Dec. 19, 2013
NEW ORLEANS - As the 2013 season played out, the Tulane University football team was able to check off several milestones the program has not been able to accomplish in recent years. And now, the Green Wave will look to add one more achievement to their ever-expanding list on Saturday, Dec. 21, when they square off against Louisiana-Lafayette in the 2013 R+L Carriers New Orleans Bowl in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome.
Football Drops 41-13 Contest At Louisiana-Lafayette
Junior kicker Cairo Santos split the uprights from 40 and 47 yards out, and senior defensive end Austen Jacks tallied 1.5 sacks, but it was not enough as the Tulane University football team dropped a 41-13 decision at Louisiana-Lafayette on Saturday evening at Cajun Field.
"This is a wonderful opportunity for our players to go to a bowl game," second-year Tulane head coach Curtis Johnson said. "We haven't been in a number of years, at least not in my time in New Orleans, that's for sure. The hard work that all of our coaches put in has built up to this. It culminates in a great bowl game in a great city.
"Our young men get a chance to play in their home stadium again. We also get to play a great opponent who beat us up pretty good last year. But we get to play in the Superdome one more time. I'm very thankful for that. I'm very happy to the New Orleans Bowl because they chose us. Some of those other schools out there didn't get selected. But they chose us, so that is an honor and a privilege to be selected."
Tulane enters the postseason for the first time since the 2002 ConAgra Foods Hawai'i Bowl 7-5 on the year and posting a 5-1 record as the home team when playing in the Dome. In the New Orleans Bowl, however, the Green Wave will be the designated visiting squad as the Sun Belt holds home-team distinction or the annual contest.
As a team, Tulane enters the 2013 R+L Carriers New Orleans Bowl averaging 304.2 yards of total offense per game (128.1 rushing, 176.1 passing) while giving up 352.6 yards a contest on defense (119.2 rushing, 233.4 passing). Senior tailback Orleans Darkwa leads a balanced ground attack with 780 yards and nine touchdowns on 172 carries while junior fullback Rob Kelley is next with 422 yards and three scores on 97 totes.
Junior quarterback Nick Montana, who started all 10 games he appeared in this season, has 1,654 yards through the air on 153-of-288 passing with 14 touchdowns and nine interceptions. Redshirt-freshman Devin Powell, who started in place of Montana during the Green Wave's wins over C-USA foes East Carolina and Tulsa, is next with 458 yards on 50-of-89 passing for five touchdowns and four picks.
Senior wideout Ryan Grant, who was invited to participate in the 2014 Senior Bowl, paces the aerial attack with 70 catches for 926 yards and nine touchdown receptions while junior Justyn Shackleford is next in all categories with 34 receptions for 356 yards and five scores.
Defensively, the Green Wave have 34 sacks among 101 tackles for loss, batted down 68 passes and forced 33 turnovers courtesy of 17 interceptions and 16 fumble recoveries. Junior strong safety Sam Scofield, a 2013 Academic All-American, leads the unit with 94 tackles (66 solo, 28 assists) while sophomore free safety Darion Monroe and freshman linebacker Nico Marley follow with respective totals of 83 (52 solo, 31 assists) and 59 (31 solo, 28 assists). Marley was named C-USA Co-Freshmen of the Year and Monroe claimed honorable-mention all-league recognition.
Sophomore defensive end Royce LaFrance - an honorable-mention All C-USA selection - has a team-best 6.5 sacks, senior defensive tackle Julius Warmsley - a first-team all-conference pick - paces the squad with 15.5 tackles for loss and senior nickelback Derrick Strozier headlines the secondary with 14 pass break-ups.
Sophomore corner Lorenzo Doss, a second-team All-American and first-team All C-USA honoree, leads the Green Wave and ranks tied for second nationally with seven interceptions - including two returned for touchdowns - while sophomore defensive back and honorable-mention all-conference member Jordan Batiste paces Tulane with four forced fumbles.
"I'm happiest for our seniors because of what happened last year," Johnson said. "We came in and brought in all these new additions, and all of a sudden you don't know how all of this will blend together. Then, you win one game and then another. You kind of see the fruits of their labor. I'm very impressed with those guys. I'd do anything for this senior class. They are the building block of what we are going to do in the future."
UL-Lafayette, meanwhile, comes to town 8-4 on the year and co-champions of the Sun Belt Conference after posting a 5-2 league record. The Ragin' Cajuns, who won the last two New Orleans Bowls, will look to shake off an 0-2 finish after falling to ULM, 31-28, on Nov. 30 at Cajun Field and dropping a 30-8 decision at South Alabama on Dec. 7.
The Ragin' Cajuns enter the 2013 R+L Carriers New Orleans Bowl averaging 424.4 yards of total offense per game (207.6 rushing, 216.8 passing) while giving up 394.0 per game defensively (154.8 rushing, 239.2 passing). Quarterback Terrance Broadway orchestrates the UL-Lafayette attack, completing 154-of-247 passes for 2,276 yards, 19 touchdowns and 10 interceptions while running 117 times for 421 yards and eight scores.
Broadway, however, suffered a broken arm in the loss to ULM and did not play in the season finale against the Jaguars. In his stead, Brooks Haack has completed 21-of-35 passes for 224 yards with one touchdown and one interception.
Alonzo Harris leads the Ragin' Cajun running game with 868 yards and 13 touchdowns on 186 carries while Jamal Robinson highlights the passing offense with 50 catches for 812 yards and eight scores.
On defense, UL-Lafayette has 19 sacks among 79 tackles for loss, batted down 31 passes and forced 20 turnovers on the strength of 11 interceptions and nine fumble recoveries. Justin Anderson leads the team with 123 tackles (67 solo, 56 assists) and three forced fumbles. Dominique Tovell (38 solo, 26 assists) and Sean Thomas (41 solo, 19 assists) are second and third on the team in tackles with 64 and 60 stops, respectively.
Justin Hamilton and Marvin Martin share the team lead in sacks with 3.0 each and Tovell has a club-best 12.0 tackles for loss. Darius Barksdale and T.J. Worthy pace the secondary with two interceptions apiece while Trevence Patt has a team-leading 12 pass break-ups.
"I think we are very motivated," Johnson said. "In Sean Payton's words, `The most desperate team wins the bowl game.' I think we are a little more desperate than they are. I think if you look at what happened last year against them, they really took us to the woodshed. They played sensational. They have the better record and they've been in this bowl game several years. I think we are pretty desperate for a win right now, and we are practicing like it. We are going in the right direction."
Saturday's bowl-game matchup marks the 27th meeting between the two teams on the gridiron and the Green Wave hold a commanding 21-5 lead in the all-time series. Tulane is 19-4 against the Ragin' Cajuns when playing in New Orleans, including a 7-4 mark in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome.
UL-Lafayette won the last head-to-head meeting with a 41-13 victory on Oct. 6, 2012, at Cajun Field, snapping a four-game Green Wave streak dating back to a 56-0 win on Nov. 1, 1997 in Lafayette, La.
Tickets for the R+L Carriers New Orleans Bowl are $40 and $60 each and will be located on the west side of the Superdome behind the Tulane bench. Please contact the Tulane Athletics Ticket Office, which is located on the first floor of the Wilson Center on Ben Weiner Drive, between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m., over the phone at 504-861-WAVE (9283) or via the Internet at www.TulaneGreenWave.com.