Nov. 17, 2007
HOUSTON- Senior running back Matt Forté ran for 194 yards and tied his own school and league record with five touchdowns as the Tulane University football team defeated Conference USA foe Rice, 45-31, Saturday afternoon at Rice Stadium.
Along the way, Forté - who also posted 51 receiving yards on a catch and a pitch on a hook-and-lateral - became just the 11th player in NCAA Division I-Bowl Subdivision history to surpass the 2,000-yard rushing barrier and currently has 2,007 yards and 22 touchdowns on 336 carries in 2007. With the win, Tulane posted back-to-back victories for the first time since 2005 to improve to 4-7 on the year and 3-4 in C-USA play. Rice, meanwhile, falls to 3-8 overall and 3-4 in league play.
"I am so happy for him," Tulane head coach Bob Toledo said of Forté. "He's a great football player as I've mentioned all along. We are so pleased. He did a great job, the offensive line did a super job, and the fullbacks and tight ends all blocked for him. He's just a special guy."
In addition to topping the 2,000-yard mark, Forté set a couple of C-USA records on the day as well. He surpassed the former league single-season rushing record of 1,964 set by Memphis' DeAngelo Williams in 2005 and his 22 touchdowns ties Williams mark set in 2004.
Forté's five touchdowns ties the Tulane single-game record he set on Sept. 22 against Southeastern Louisiana and ties the C-USA mark shared by five other league backs. He had 96 yards and two touchdowns by halftime, and did more of the same in the second half with 98 yards and three scores in the game's final 30 minutes.
"To do something that you dream of in your wildest dreams, get 2,000 yards and make history is very special," Forté said. "We've had a great season stat wise, and I just want to thank my offensive line, my teammates and my coaches to give me a chance to come out here and do that."
Forté accounted for the bulk of Tulane's 267 yards rushing against the Owls, but sophomore quarterback Anthony Scelfo had his fair share with 55 yards on two carries while senior running back Ade Tuyo ran for 24 yards and a touchdown on eight totes.
Scelfo started under center for Tulane, completing 5-of-12 passes for 63 yards, but redshirt-freshman Kevin Moore - who alternated series with Scelfo throughout the ballgame - came off the bench to lead the team with 125 yards on 6-of-10 passing. Sophomore wide receiver Jeremy Williams led the Green Wave with four catches, and junior wideout Michael Batiste led the squad with a career-best 61 yards on three grabs.
The Green Wave drew first blood as sophomore Ross Thevenot was true on a 38-yard field goal on the game's opening drive, but Rice took a 7-3 lead early in the second quarter when Chase Clement connected with Jarett Dillard for a 13-yard touchdown pass.
The rest of the day, however, belonged to Forté and the Wave. Forté scored on a 46-yard run with 3:44 left to play before halftime, touched paydirt a little over three minutes later with a one-yard jaunt, and scored on a five-yard run less than five minutes into the third quarter to stake Tulane to a 24-7 lead.
Rice made it a 10-point ballgame on Clement's second scoring strike to Dillard with 7:38 to play in the third quarter, but Forté answered with a one-yard plunge early in the fourth quarter to push the lead back to 17. Owls kicker Clark Fangmeier drilled a 30-yard field goal a little over three minutes later to make it a 31-17 ballgame, but Forté all but put the game out of reach on the ensuing possession when he scored on a 13-yard run with 7:24 remaining on the clock.
Rice's James Casey sandwiched 61- and six-yard touchdown receptions around Tuyo's touchdown - the first of the Tulane senior's career - to account for the final score. Senior strong safety Joe Goosby led all players with 14 tackles, including 13 of the solo variety and two tackles for loss, while junior cornerback Josh Lumar paced the Tulane secondary with a career-high six pass break-ups.
The Green Wave return to action on Saturday, Nov. 24, when they close out the 2007 season with a noon kickoff at East Carolina. The games will be broadcast on the Tulane ISP Sports Network (local station, WIST AM 690) and live audio is available via the internet at www.TulaneGreenWave.com to registered members of the All-Access Pass. Live stats are also available free of charge on the official website of Tulane Athletics.