Nov. 24, 2007
GREENVILLE, N.C. - Senior running back Matt Forté posted 155 all-purpose yard with 120 yards on rushing and 25 receiving, and junior free safety David Skehan posted a season-best nine tackles, but it was not enough as the Tulane University football team dropped the season finale to East Carolina, 35-12, Saturday afternoon at Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium.
The Pirates tallied 441 yards of total offense (219 rushing, 240 receiving), including Chris Johnson's 155 yards and two touchdowns on the ground to go along with four catches for 85 yards and a score through the air. With the loss, Tulane concludes the year at 4-8 overall and 3-5 in C-USA play. East Carolina, meanwhile, improves to 7-5 on the year and 6-2 in league action.
"East Carolina is very big and very fast," Tulane head coach Bob Toledo said. "They are a talented football team and I think, all in all, we played as hard as we could. We didn't take advantage of some opportunities that we had, and we didn't sustain any drives on offense. Defensively, we just missed a lot of tackles. Chris Johnson is a great player. He is really fast."
With 120 yards on the ground, Forté completed the season with 2,127 yards, which ranks sixth in NCAA Division I-Bowl Subdivision history. For his career, Forté - who shared time in the backfield his first two collegiate seasons and missed three games last year with a knee injury - finished with 4,265 yards to sit just 99 yards behind Mewelde Moore's Tulane record of 4,364 yards from 2000-03.
The Green Wave opened the scoring with a 40-yard field goal off the toe of sophomore kicker Ross Thevenot with 8:12 left to play in the first quarter, but the Pirates came right back with a seven-play, 71-yard drive capped by a 6-yard pass from Kass to Dominique Lindsay less than four minutes later to make it a 7-3 ballgame.
Tulane made it a one-point affair on a 35-yard Thevenot kick with 1:20 left to play in the opening stanza, but the East Carolina got a five-yard touchdown run by Johnson just over two minutes into the second quarter and closed out the frame with a 25-yard Rob Kass-to-Jamar Bryant scoring strike with 43 seconds left to stake the Pirates to a 15-point lead.
The score remained 21-6 throughout the third quarter, but Johnson opened the fourth quarter with a seven-yard touchdown run and the Pirates never looked back. Tulane cut the lead to 16 on a three-yard touchdown run by Forté, but Anthony Scelfo's two-point pass attempt was batted at the line of scrimmage.
Following an unsuccessful on-side kick attempt, East Carolina wasted little time putting Tulane away as Kass hit Johnson for a 33-yard touchdown strike to account for the final score.
Scelfo led Tulane with 133 yards on 12-of-20 passing. Sophomore Jeremy Williams was one of nine Green Wave players to record a catch against ECU and led all players with six receptions for 72 yards. Brian King, Ade Tuyo and Forté all posted three receptions in the loss.
Skehan tied junior cornerback Josh Lumar for team-high tackle honors, while junior middle linebacker Evan Lee and senior strong safety Joe Goosby followed with eight and seven tackles, respectively. Senior defensive lineman Antonio Harris posted the team's lone sack of the day.
Kass threw for 177 yards and three touchdowns for the Pirates on 12-of-18 passing, while Pat Pinkney came off the bench to throw for 45 yards, completing two of his three tosses. Johnson was the favorite receiver of the pair, while Steven Rogers (52 yards), Jamar Bryant (30 yards) and Davon Drew (21 yards) each hauled in a pair of passes.
The Pirate defense, meanwhile, was all over the field from start to finish, knocking down four passes, posting five quarterback hurries, and tallying nine tackles for loss. J.J. Milbrook, Pierre Bell and Van Eskridge tied for the East Carolina lead with eight tackles apiece.
Despite closing out the year with a loss, Toledo remained positive about the future of Tulane football. After going around the locker room to shake hands with and personally thank each senior who made the trip to Greenville, Toledo was all too happy to discuss his team's future with the media.
"I've seen our team grow this season," he said. "I think we have a lot of nice things to look forward to in the future. I'm looking forward to recruiting next week and brining some new football players to this team. I'm looking forward to the off-season to guild up this football team."