Second-Half Turnovers Costly As Football Falls At FAU, 34-17

TULANEGREENWAVE.COM Sophomore cornerback padded his NCAA lead in interceptions and scored his second touchdown of the season with a 69-yard pick-six on Saturday at FAU.
Sophomore cornerback padded his NCAA lead in interceptions and scored his second touchdown of the season with a 69-yard pick-six on Saturday at FAU.

Nov. 2, 2013

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BOCA RATON, Fla. - Sophomore cornerback Lorenzo Doss had a pair of turnovers with a fumble recovery and an interception he returned 69 yards for a touchdown, but it was not enough as the Tulane University football team dropped a 34-17 decision to Conference USA newcomer Florida Atlantic on Saturday evening at FAU Stadium.

Four consecutive second-half interceptions spelled doom for the Green Wave as the Owls turned the miscues into 17 points while Tulane failed to score after intermission. The loss was the Green Wave's first since falling 52-17 at Syracuse back on Sept. 21 at the Carrier Dome, snapping a four-game winning streak and dropping Tulane's record to 6-3 on the year and 4-1 in league play. FAU, meanwhile, halted a two-game skid to improve to 3-6 overall and 2-4 in C-USA action.

"This was a tough game," second-year Tulane head coach Curtis Johnson said. "Usually we're the team that turns everybody over and all of the sudden we get in the game where we couldn't get anything right. We kept turning the ball over. It was inexcusable. There was no one person at fault. We just turned it over at the wrong time at the wrong places. I need to go back and watch the tape and see what happened, and we'll make adjustments for next week."

Doss put Tulane on the board early, picking off a Jaquez Johnson pass on the Owls' initial drive and dashing up the right sideline for his second-pick six of the season. It was his sixth interception of the year and the 11th of his career, numbers that rank tied for sixth in both Tulane single-season and career history.

FAU answered with a nine-play, 63-yard drive which Johnson capped with a one-yard touchdown plunge to tie the game, but Doss put Tulane back in action two drives later when he scooped up fumble forced by sophomore defensive back Jordan Batiste and returned it 31 yards to the Owls' 25-yard line. The Green Wave offense marched down to the five before stalling, and senior kicker Cairo Santos split the uprights from 22 yards out to give Tulane a 10-7 lead 1:24 into the second quarter.

Neither team could get much going over the next five possessions, but Tulane put together a late drive and senior tailback Orleans Darkwa capped the six-play, 35-yard march with a four-yard touchdown run to stake the Wave to a 17-7 halftime lead.

The Owls came out on fire in the second half, taking the opening kick of the third quarter and marching 66 yards on 11 plays to set up a 26-yard Mitch Anderson field goal to cut the deficit to a single score. The first of Tulane's four interceptions came on the ensuing drive when D'Joun Smith picked off a Nick Montana pass, but the defense held FAU to a three-and-out to keep it a 17-10 ballgame.

The Green Wave would not be as fortunate the next three turnovers as Smith snared a Devin Powell offering on the next play from scrimmage to set up a 30-yard scoring strike from Daniel McKinney to William Dukes on a double-pass play to tie things up at 17-all with 3:24 to play in the third quarter.

Another Montana interception, this time by Christian Milstead, led to a 20-yard Anderson field goal to give FAU a 20-17 lead early in the fourth, and Smith's third pick of the game set up a 24-yard touchdown run by Damion Fortner to all but put the game away.

Tulane held the Owls to a three-and-out on their next possession, but FAU quieted any talks of a Green Wave comeback when Johnson broke free for a 49-yard scoring sprint with 4:46 left to play to account for the final score.

Sophomore free safety Darion Monroe led Tulane's defensive effort with a career-high tying 13 tackles (5 solo, 8 assists) while senior linebacker Zach Davis had a season-best 12 stops (2 solo, 10 assists) and junior strong safety Sam Scofield added 10 tackles (2 solo, 8 assists). Batiste logged his first multiple-sack performance of his career with 2.0 sacks among a career-best 2.5 tackles for loss to go with a pair of forced fumbles and a pass break-up.

Johnson led FAU with 221 all-purpose yards, running 20 times for 114 yards and two touchdowns while completing 10-of-21 passes for 107 yards. Dukes led the aerial assault with three receptions for 68 yards and a score, while Andrae Kirk paced the Owls' defense with 11 tackles (2 solo, 9 assists). Smith's three interceptions were the most by a Tulane opponent since Clinton Burrell of LSU had three on Nov. 22, 1975.

Tulane returns to action on Saturday, Nov. 9, when they travel to San Antonio, Texas, to face C-USA newcomer UTSA before closing out the home portion of the 2013 regular season on Nov. 23 against UTEP in the Superdome. For tickets to that game, as well as future Green Wave events, contact the Tulane Athletics Ticket Office. The Ticket Office is located on the first floor of the Wilson Center on Ben Weiner Drive, and tickets can be purchased in person weekdays from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., over the phone at 504-861-WAVE (9283) or via the Internet at www.TulaneGreenWave.com.