Junior wide receiver Justyn Shackleford and the Tulane football team return to action on Saturday when they play host to Conference USA foe East Carolina in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome.
Oct. 11, 2013
NEW ORLEANS - The Tulane University football team will look to post a three-game winning streak for the first time since 2004 when the Green Wave play host to Conference USA foe East Carolina on Saturday, Nov. 12, in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. Kickoff is slated for 2:30 p.m.
Following back-to-back wins over ULM and North Texas, the Green Wave enter the weekend 4-2 on the year and 2-0 in C-USA action. In order to extend the streak to three straight victories, Tulane will have to reverse a recent trend as the Wave have not defeated the Pirates since Nov. 22, 2003, when they capped the season with a 28-18 win in New Orleans.
New Orleans, La.
Football Drops Home Finale To East Carolina, 28-23
Junior wide receiver Ryan Grant surpassed the 1,000-yard mark for the season, junior kicker Cairo Santos nailed a trio of field goals, and senior quarterback Ryan Griffin became the Green Wave's career completion leader, but it was not enough as the Tulane University football team dropped a 28-23 decision to Conference USA foe East Carolina on Saturday afternoon in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome.
"This is the one team that when you look at the schedule, you say, `Okay, here is a team that we have to measure up to.' I don't know if we are there yet. We've got some wrinkles that are going into this week. We're not there yet. We just have to play up as high as we can, hope they play a little bit down to make this thing close, and maybe we can get field goal at the end again."
Saturday's game will be aired live on the flagship radio station for Green Wave football - WMTI 106.1 FM "The Ticket" - and simulcast on the web at www.TulaneGreenWave.com to paid members of the All-Access Pass. Live game stats are also available on-line for free via GameTracker and a tape-delayed television broadcast on WHNO-TV 20 on Saturday at 6:30 p.m.
As a team, Tulane is averaging 319.8 yards of total offense per game (133.5 rushing, 186.3 passing) while giving up 361.3 yards a contest on defense (111.5 rushing, 249.8 passing). Senior tailback Orleans Darkwa leads a balanced ground attack with 347 yards and five touchdowns on 85 carries while junior fullback Rob Kelley is next with 296 yards and two scores on 55 totes.
Junior quarterback Nick Montana has 1,116 yards through the air on 102-of-183 passing with 10 touchdowns and four interceptions. Senior wideout Ryan Grant paces the aerial attack with 40 catches for 521 yards while sharing the touchdown reception lead with junior Justyn Shackleford at four each.
Defensively, the Green Wave have 12 sacks among 40 tackles for loss, batted down 39 passes and forced 18 turnovers with 11 interceptions and seven fumble recoveries. The safety tandem of Darion Monroe (24 solo, 11 assists) and Sam Scofield (28 solo, 7 assists) share the team's tackle lead with 35 apiece, while freshman linebacker Nico Marley is close behind with 30 stops (17 solo, 13 assists).
Junior defensive end Tyler Gilbert has a team-best 2.5 sacks, senior defensive tackle Julius Warmsley paces the squad with 7.0 tackles for loss, and sophomore cornerback Jordan Batistes has a team-high six pass break-ups. Sophomore Lorenzo Doss, who was named C-USA Defensive Player of the Week and Jim Thorpe Defensive Back Of the Week after picking off two passes and returning one 59 yards for a touchdown against North Texas, headlines the secondary with four interceptions.
"I think our defense is playing outstanding," Johnson said. "The one thing I'm most proud of is turnover ratio. We talked about that going into (the season). When we create turnovers we have a chance to win. I think the defense has bought in. They're doing exactly what we said we want to do. We want to turn guys over. I think Jordan Batiste is doing a great job. Doss is getting turnovers playing his role. We are getting to a point where we are doing what we said. Thirty-ninth is good, but being a coach I'm a little greedy, and I want better."
East Carolina, meanwhile, comes to town 4-1 on the year, 2-0 in conference play and riding a two-game winning streak of its own after posting road wins over North Carolina, 55-31 on Sept. 28, and Middle Tennessee, 24-17 on Oct. 5.
The Pirates are averaging 422.2 yards of total offense per game (112.6 rushing, 309.6 receiving) while giving up 370.4 per game defensively (80.6 rushing, 289.8 passing). Quarterback Shane Carden orchestrates the ECU attack, completing 157-of-214 yards for 1,537 yards, 12 touchdowns and four interceptions while running 38 times for a team-best four scores.
Vintavious Cooper leads the rushing attack with 372 yards on 81 carries while Justin Hardy leads a receiving corps that features six players with double-digit reception totals and four with 100-plus receiving yards with 40 catches for 409 yards. Davon Grayson, who has 17 grabs for 168 yards, paces the squad with four touchdown receptions.
On defense, East Carolina has 15 sacks among 31 tackles for loss, forced eight turnovers courtesy of six interceptions and two fumble recoveries, and 23 pass break-ups. Damon Magazu leads the unit with 37 tackles (22 solo, 15 assists) while Brandon Williams (17 solo, 17 assists) and Derrell Johnson (12 solo, 22 assists) are next with 34 tackles apiece.
Terrel Stanley and Lee Pegues share the team lead in sacks with 3.5 each and Johnson has a club-best 6.0 tackles for loss. Adonis Armstrong paces the secondary with two interceptions and Zeek Bigger has a team-leading four pass break-ups.
"The only chance we have is we have to stop the run," Johnson said of his team's matchup with East Carolina. "We have to make them one dimensional. We've got to put some pressure on him, also. We've got to get some three- and four-man pressure on this guy. I put this game on the defensive line this week. It's up to them to get East Carolina, and on our offensive line in the trenches. We've got to run the ball and we've got to get pressure.
"The first day of the week, I challenged the defensive line. Chris Davenport, Julius Warmsley and those guys, they're ready for the challenge or they will be ready to take on the challenge. Our defensive line is playing well. They can play better. They're playing pretty good, but we just have to continue to get better and better and better."
Saturday's game marks the 13th meeting between Tulane and East Carolina on the gridiron, and the Pirates hold a 10-2 lead the all-time series. The Green Wave dropped the last five head-to-head matchups with the Pirates, including a 28-23 defeat on Nov. 17, 2012.
The Tulane/East Carolina contest is the second of three straight home games for the Green Wave as Tulane will enjoy a bye next weekend before returning to action on Saturday, Oct. 26, when it take on Tulsa in the Superdome.
For tickets to those games, as well as future Green Wave events, 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.
Single-game tickets for the Tulane/ECU game will be available through the Superdome Box Office, located at Gate A Ground on Poydras Street, on game day. The Dome's box office will open at 12:30 p.m. and gates will open at 1:30 p.m.