Nov. 23, 2013
NEW ORLEANS - The Tulane football team sent its 19-member senior class out in grand style with its most dominant game of the year, a 45-3 win over UTEP, in the Green Wave's final game in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome.
Tulane improved to 7-4 overall and 5-2 in Conference USA play and remains in the hunt for the C-USA West Division title. The Green Wave's 42-point margin of victory was its largest in a C-USA game and the TU defense surrendered just three points, which is the team's fewest allowed in a C-USA contest.
The Green Wave will conclude the regular season at Rice next Saturday, Nov. 30 at Rice Stadium in Houston, Texas. Kickoff is slated for 2 p.m. and the game will be broadcast nationally on Fox College Sports.
Tulane's win today guaranteed the team its first bowl appearance since 2002. In preparation for bowl tickets, all 2013 football season ticket holders, Tulane Athletics Fund members, and those with commitments for Yulman Stadium seat reservations are all guaranteed a first opportunity at purchasing tickets. Click here to reserve seats for Tulane's upcoming bowl game.
Fans can also make a $25 deposit, which will also guarantee a seat to watch the Green Wave in a bowl game. Deposits will go towards the purchase of your bowl tickets. Destination is not finalized pending more games to go. Call the Tulane Team Shop Ticket Office at 504-861-WAVE (9283) to place a deposit or for more information.
Tulane started off hot in the first half offensively, scoring on six of its seven possessions and only being stopped on a fourth down conversion deep inside UTEP territory. TU defense kept pace, forcing a punt or turnover on five of the Miners' six drives before the break. The Green Wave scored 28 points and gained 242 yards of offense before allowing a UTEP first down or completion.
"I thought UTEP was a good them, but they were a little bit undermanned with injuries," Tulane head coach Curtis Johnson said. "Our team played very well today and it started in the trenches. Both our offense and defense played very well today. I think when we have a chance to run the ball, our offense works that much better, and I think we did a very good job of that today, allowing our offense to play very well."
"What's hard about these seniors is that, whenever there's a coaching change, there's that atmosphere that you're not necessarily accustomed to. I thought these seniors have played and contributed extremely well. They haven't complained, they've played extremely well, they come out to practice every day and give it their all, they're all graduating, so this is a great building block of a senior class. I'm so proud of these guys, each and every one of them," Johnson added.
Junior quarterback Nick Montana completed 12 of 19 attempts for 171 yards and three scores through the air. Redshirt-freshman quarterback Devin Powell entered in relief of Montana and completed four of six passes for 34 yards and a touchdown.
Tulane dominated the ground game, allowing only 49 rushing yards and gaining 277 on 43 carries. Senior running back Orleans Darkwa ran 17 times for 137 yards and a touchdown. Josh Rounds added 78 yards on the ground and junior back Rob Kelley contributed 15 and a touchdown while also hauling in three passes for 54 yards and another score. Junior running back Dante Butler tied a team-high with a 54-yard rush in the third quarter. Darkwa surpassed the 100-yard mark for the 10th time in his career, rushing for 116 yards in the first half alone.
Senior wide receiver Ryan Grant recorded eight receptions for 104 yards and two touchdowns and moved into sole possession of fifth place in team history by recording his 11th career 100-yard receiving game.
The Green Wave defense was able to force three turnovers with the first two being turned into touchdowns. Senior linebacker Zach Davis forced a fumble in the second quarter and sophomore cornerback Lorenzo Doss recorded a third quarter interception, his seventh on the year and 12th of his young career. Freshman linebacker Jarrod Franklin paced the team in tackles with seven (four solo) and added a sack for a loss of seven yards. Defensive end Julius Warmsley posted four solo stops and a sack and is now tied with Royce LaFrance for the team lead in sacks with 5.0 apiece.
Starting the game with the ball, Tulane scored on a seven-play, 72-yard drive, where 62 came on the ground, that lasted 2:35. The series was capped off by a 20-yard touchdown run by Darkwa, who tied former Tulane standout Mewelde Moore on the score for third in career touchdowns in the school record books with 36.
Darkwa continued his early success by busting off a 40-yard carry on the team's second offensive possession. The Green Wave moved inside the UTEP four-yard line but were unable to get into the endzone on fourth down, the only time Tulane would be held without points on a drive in the first half.
Starting with good field possession on the UTEP side of the 50-yard line, Powell was able to move the team down inside the 10-yard line and converted on a seven-yard fade route to Grant to give the team an early 14-0 lead.
Montana returned at quarterback after the Tulane defense forced the third consecutive UTEP punt and led the team on a 65-yard drive, connecting with Kelley for a 17-yard touchdown strike. On the ensuing Miners' possession, safety Sam Scofield recovered a fumble forced by Davis at the UTEP 16-yard line.
Two plays later, Kelley scored his second touchdown of the day, finding the endzone on an eight-yard carry up the middle to give Tulane a 28-0 lead early in the second quarter.
UTEP was finally able to get some offensive rhythm going on their next possession, completing their first pass with 11:05 remaining in the second quarter and moving the chains for the first time on the series. The Miners then marched down the field on a 16-play, 61-yard drive that lasted 8:11. The Tulane defense held strong in the redzone though and forced a 32-yard field goal that was put through the uprights by kicker Jay Mattox.
The Green Wave offensive continued to grind out the yards for another long drive after allowing the first points of the game for UTEP, going 75 yards in just 1:19. Montana was able to find Kelley for a 27-yard gain through the air to move deep into opponent territory. Montana was then able to escape pressure in the pocket and find Marc Edwards in the back of the endzone for a four-yard touchdown, Edwards' first score of the season and the second of his career.
Following another UTEP punt, Tulane had one more chance for points with less than one minute remaining in the first half. After moving into Miner territory, kicker Cairo Santos attempted a 44-yard field goal that was blocked and returned for a touchdown. The play, however, was called back due to a running into the kicker penalty and Santos was able to boot a 39-yard try through the uprights, his 14th of the year and the 59th of his career, to give Tulane a 38-3 halftime lead.
UTEP hoped to start better in the second half, but quarterback Mack Leftwich threw an interception to Doss on a deep pass attempt on the first possession of the third quarter. Butler then carried the ball 54 yards and the possession led to a 10-yard receiving touchdown from Montana to Grant on a slant route to push Grant over the century mark and end Montana's day behind center.
For tickets to any Tulane Athletics event, please 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.