Nov. 11, 2006
NEW ORLEANS, La.-Southern Miss running back Damion Fletcher ran for 136 yards and two touchdowns, and defensive back LeVance Richmond returned a fumble 50-yards for a touchdown to spark a 21-point fourth quarter, as the Tulane University football team dropped a 31-3 decision to the Golden Eagles in Conference USA action Saturday afternoon at the Louisiana Superdome.
The Green Wave (3-7, 1-5 C-USA) defense had a solid outing, stopping Southern Miss (6-4, 4-2 C-USA) on a pair of fourth-down opportunities and blocking a field goal before forcing and recovering a fumble. The Golden Eagles' defense was even better, however, as Southern Miss held Tulane to 85 yards of total offense, including 42 yards on 4-of-16 passing through the air.
"It was a game I thought our defensively and special teams played really well in," Tulane head coach Chris Scelfo said. "Offensively, it was embarrassing. Give Southern Miss credit on defensive. I thought that we didn't do anything to help our team offensively. I was really proud to see our special teams to play the way they did. It was a big improvement over the past couple of weeks. I really thought our defensive fought hard made some big key stops and created a couple turnovers for us."
Southern Miss took an early 7-0 lead when Fletcher capped a six-play, 60-yard drive with a two-yard touchdown run with 8:12 left to play in the first quarter. The Golden Eagles made it a double-digit lead two drives later when Darren McCaleb booted a 24-yard field goal, but the Tulane defense stepped up and kept the team in the game.
The two teams battled to a stalemate in the third quarter, and momentum seemed to shift to the Green Wave's sideline in the opening minutes of the fourth as McCaleb's 51-yard field goal try bounced off the crossbar two and a half minutes into the period.
A seven- and two-yard run by junior running back Ray Boudreaux gave Tulane a manageable third-and-one scenario at their own 43 yard line, and Ade Tuyo burst up the middle for a seven-yard gain for an apparent Green Wave first down. A big hit, however, jarred the ball lose and Richmond changed the face of the game with his 50-yard scoring return.
From there, Southern Miss scored touchdowns on their final two possessions as Fletcher plunged in from four yards out with 7:22 left to play and Tory Harrison hit paydirt from two-yards away inside the final minute of the contest to put the game away.
"I thought we were going in (for the game-tying score)," Elliott said on his feelings after Southern Miss' missed field goal attempt early in the fourth quarter. "I thought this was it. We stopped them (on defense) and we had some momentum. In my mind, it was like, `Here we go. We're going to do it right here.' I couldn't tell on the fumble if it really was or not, but it's just one of those things. You can't turn the ball over. That's the number one step in football and we turned it over at the wrong time of the game."
Junior defensive tackle Frank Morton headlined Tulane's defensive effort with a career-best eight tackles, including six solo stops. He also posted a career high with two and a half tackles for losses totaling 12 yards, including two sacks. Rookie corner Alex Wacha and junior strong safety David Skehan were next with seven tackles apiece, while sophomore corner Josh Lumar and senior cornerback Israel Route were next with six stops each.
Boudreaux paced the offense with a career-high 51 yards rushing while hauling in a pass for 17 yards. Redshirt-freshman wide receiver Jeremy Williams was the line receiver to post a multiple-catch outing, snaring two passes for 20 yards.
"I think the biggest thing is there is a lot we can build on two phases," Scelfo said. "On the offensive side, we need to go back to work and understand that we are not nearly as good as we think we are and go back and do the little things that got us very productive the last four or five weeks."
The Green Wave return to action on Friday, Nov. 18, when they close out the home portion of the 2006 schedule against C-USA foe UCF at 1 p.m. in the Louisiana Superdome. Tickets for that game, and future Green Wave contests, remain for sale through the Tulane Athletics Ticket Office.
The Ticket Office is located on the first floor of the James W. Wilson, Jr. Center, and tickets can be purchased in person, via the telephone at (504) 861-WAVE or via the internet at www.TulaneGreenWave.com. In addition, single-game tickets are also available via Ticket Master at www.TicketMaster.com and at all Ticket Master outlets.