Senior All-America kicker Cairo Santos kicked two field goals in today's 17-13 loss at Rice.
Nov. 30, 2013
HOUSTON- The Tulane defense recorded seven sacks and recovered two fumbles, while redshirt-freshman receiver Devon Breaux hauled in a touchdown pass from junior quarterback Nick Montana, but it was not enough as Rice downed the Green Wave, 17-13, in the regular season finale for both teams in front of 20,048 at Rice Stadium.
Tulane dropped to 7-5 overall and 5-3 in Conference USA play, while Rice improved to 9-3 overall and captured the C-USA West Division with a 7-1 league mark.
Despite the loss, the Green Wave is bowl eligible for the first time since 2002 and will await an invitation to a bowl game over the course of the next few days.
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.
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Tulane's offense was only able to muster 123 yards of total offense, most of which came on the Wave's lone touchdown drive.
The Green Wave defense, meanwhile, was on the field for almost 40 minutes today. The TU defenders held Rice's top-ranked rushing attack in C-USA to nearly 100 yards below its season average (124 yards on the day) and only surrendered 180 passing yards. Tulane amassed 13 stops for lost yardage, including seven sacks, while forcing and recovering a pair of fumbles. TU's special teams added a blocked field goal in the first quarter.
TU sophomore safety Darion Monroe and freshman linebacker Nico Marley each finished with 10 tackles apiece, while Marley added one sack, two tackles for lost yardage and stripped and recovered a fumble on the same play. Monroe logged 1.5 sacks on the day, as did sophomore defensive end Royce LaFrance.
Tulane had the ball twice inside the final six minutes of the game, but could not find the endzone on either possession.
"The negative yardage plays really hurt us today and you can't have penalties and missed assignments," Tulane head coach Curtis Johnson said. "This has really hurt us all year, but it really reared its ugly head today. Credit Rice, they played well.
"I thought they (Tulane defense) were sensational. I thought Nico (Marley) played well. I thought (Derrick) Strozier played well, as did (Jordan) Batiste. That whole secondary did their job. I thought the front played well also. The one thing they did was keeping those big guys (Rice's offensive line) up front off of our linebackers and our safeties. The defense just played well."
Rice took the opening kickoff and marched 59 yards in 10 plays and entered the redzone, but an errant pitch by Rice on an option play halted the drive. The Owls attempted a 40-yard field goal, but senior Derrick Strozier came through untouched and blocked the field goal, the second of the season for the Green Wave.
The Tulane defense up with another big play on Rice's next possession when senior linebacker Zach Davis and Marley sacked and stripped Owl quarterback Taylor McHargue and sophomore cornerback Jordan Batiste scooped up the loose ball. Tulane took the field deep in Rice territory, but had to settle for a 30-yard field goal by senior kicker Cairo Santos, giving the Wave a 3-0 lead with 4:31 remaining in the first quarter.
Tulane made its first miscue of the game late in the first quarter when junior running back Rob Kelley took a pass from Montana but fumbled the ball while fighting for extra yards. Rice needed just one play to take the lead when McHargue zipped a 19-yard touchdown pass to Turner Peterson to give the home team a quick 7-3 advantage.
Following a three-and-out by the Tulane offense at the end of the first quarter, Rice increased its lead to 14-3 with a 6-play, 68-yard drive that was capped off by a16-yard touchdown run by Jowan Davis.
With Tulane unable to generate much offense in the first half, the Rice offense had the ball for 21 minutes on the opening half. The Wave went three-and-out late in the first half and Rice executed its two-minute offense and came up with a 36-yard field goal by Chris Boswell 0:07 remaining in the second quarter and took a 17-3 lead into intermission.
Tulane's offense continued to misfire in the third quarter until the Green Wave defense came through with its second takeaway of the day. Marley stripped and recovered a fumble from Rice running back Charles Ross, giving the TU offense the ball at the Owl 27-yard line. Three plays later, Montana found Breaux for a 13-yard touchdown to close the gap to 17-10 near the end of the third quarter.
The TU defense came up with another stop on Rice's ensuing possession and the Green Wave offense returned to the field and put together its best drive of the day to that point. Montana hit Grant on several long throws and Santos capped an 11-play, 61-yard drive with a 32-yard field goal to draw Tulane to within four points, 17-13, with 10:14 remaining in the game.
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