Big second half lifts Houston past Tulane, 49-31

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Tulane scored two defensive touchdowns and forced five turnovers but still lost Thursday night to conference rival Houston, 49-31.

The Green Wave (2-2) led 24-21 at halftime but the Cougars (1-0) scored the final 21 points of the game to win their first game of the season.

Tulane freshman quarterback Michael Pratt was under duress all night. He was sacked six times and completed only 11 of 25 passes for 141 yards and a touchdown.

The Wave scored two defensive touchdowns in the first quarter. The first came when Macon Clark returned Houston quarterback Clayton Tune’s pass 64 yards for a touchdown. There was pressure on the play by linebacker Kevin Henry., who later forced a fumble by Tune on a sack. Defensive tackle Jeffery Johnson scooped up the loose ball by Houston’s goalline and fell into the end zone to give the Green Wave a 14-7 lead.

The Cougars overcame their minus-5 turnover deficit in the game, out-gaining the Wave on the night, 476-211.

TULANE ATHLETICS RECAP:
HOUSTON – The Tulane football team suffered its first road loss of the season, 49-31, at Houston in American Athletic Conference action Thursday evening at TDECU Stadium.

Making his first career start, freshman quarterback Michael Pratt accounted for two touchdowns and threw for 141 yards, but Houston (1-0, 1-0 AAC) racked up 476 total yards in the game and held the Green Wave to just 211.

Tulane (2-2, 0-2 AAC) forced five turnovers on the night by way of two interceptions by junior safety Macon Clark and three fumble recoveries. The defensive unit also racked up seven tackles for loss and three sacks.

The Green Wave defense seized early momentum from the Cougars by producing two touchdowns in the first six minutes of the game. Clark returned an interception 64 yards to the end zone on Houston’s first possession to draw first blood despite the Cougars responding with a touchdown drive on their subsequent possession.

However, Tulane created another turnover less than two minutes after Houston’s score when graduate linebacker Kevin Henry forced a fumble on a strip of Houston quarterback Clayton Tune deep in his own territory. Junior nose tackle Jeffery Johnson scooped the ball off the ground and carried it into the end zone to give the Green Wave a 14-7 advantage.

The Wave created their third turnover of the first quarter and continued the scoring run with a field goal, followed by a one-yard rushing score by Pratt, to give Tulane a 24-7 lead just over one minute into the second quarter.

Houston’s defense was able to turn the tide by forcing the Green Wave into three consecutive punts and score two touchdowns to cut its deficit to just three, 24-21, before halftime.

The Cougars continued their surge midway through the third quarter and took their first lead of the night on a three-yard touchdown rush that capped a 10-play drive. Tulane provided a counter punch exactly two minutes later when Pratt completed an eight-yard touchdown pass to sophomore wideout Jha’Quan Jackson to pull back in front, 31-28, with 5:53 remaining in the third quarter.

Houston responded immediately however by returning the ensuing kickoff 97 yards, which proved to be the first of three consecutive touchdowns, as the Cougars pulled ahead, 49-31, early in the fourth quarter and seal the victory.

Sophomore linebacker Dorian Williams and senior safety Chase Kuerschen each recorded 12 total tackles, respectively, to tie for a game-high as three of Williams’ stops were for losses including one sack.

Tulane returns home to host SMU in a conference clash on Friday, October 16. Kickoff is scheduled for 5 p.m. at Yulman Stadium and the game will be televised nationally on ESPN.

HOUSTON 49, TULANE 31 – POSTGAME NOTES

TEAM NOTES
• Tulane faced Houston for the 25th time. The Green Wave fell to 7-18 all-time against the Cougars.
• Tulane opened up a 24-7 lead with 13:50 to go in the second quarter, but the Cougars would respond by outscoring the Green Wave 21-0 to take a 28-24 lead. Tulane would reclaim the lead at 31-28 with 5:53 to go in the third quarter, but Houston would respond once again, as it scored the game’s final 21 points.
• Tulane forced Houston into five turnovers. The last time Tulane forced five turnovers was back on Nov. 26, 2016 at Connecticut.
• Houston outgained Tulane 476-211.
• With the loss, Fritz fell to 218-103-1 all-time.
• Team captains for today’s game were DB Ajani Kerr, DB Kyle Meyers, K Merek Glover, OL Sincere Haynesworth and TE Tyrick James.
• Senior Cameron Sample carried the No. 18 flag in honor of Devon Walker. Senior De’Andre Williams carried the team’s Wave of Change flag.

OFFENSIVE NOTES
• The Green Wave offensive starters were QB Michael Pratt, RB Cameron Carroll, TE Tyrick James, WR Phat Watts, WR Jacob Robertson Jr., WR Duece Watts, OL Sincere Haynesworth, OL Josh Remetich, OL Corey Dublin, OL Trey Tuggle and OL Joey Claybrook.
• Pratt became just the seventh Green Wave true freshman to start under center since 1975.
• Pratt rushed for a touchdown in the first half. He finished the game by going 11-of-25 for 141 yards and one touchdown.
• Carroll made his first career start at running back.
• Carroll was held without a touchdown for the first time all season.
• Duece Watts finished the game with a career high 50 receiving yards.
• Dublin made his 42nd straight start. He has never missed a start in his collegiate career.
• Wide receiver Jha’Quan Jackson hauled in his second touchdown reception of the season, as he caught an eight-yard pass from Pratt in the third quarter.
• The Green Wave were held under 100 yards rushing for the first time in 56 games.

DEFENSIVE NOTES
• The Green Wave defensive starters were DL Patrick Johnson, DL De’Andre Williams, DL Cameron Sample, DL Jeffery Johnson, LB Kevin Henry, LB Marvin Moody, CB Jaylon Monroe, CB Willie Langham, S Larry Brooks, S Macon Clark and S Chase Kuerschen.
• As a team, Tulane had seven tackles for loss and three sacks.
• Senior Chase Kuerschen finished the game with 12 tackles.
• Sophomore Dorian Williams finished the game with a career-high 12 tackles. Williams also tallied a sack and three tackles for loss.
• Henry recorded his first sack of the season. He also forced his first fumble on the year.
• Patrick Johnson recorded a half sack in the first half. He now has 19.0 career sacks which ranks fourth all-time.
• Junior Macon Clark hauled in a pair of interceptions in the first half. His first interception was returned 64 yards to the endzone for a touchdown.
• Clark now has two career interception returns for touchdown.
• Clark also was the last Tulane player to return an interception for a touchdown. Clark’s last pick six came at home in 2019 against Connecticut.
• Larry Brooks was the last Tulane player to haul in two interceptions.

SPECIAL TEAMS NOTES
• Redshirt senior Merek Glover connected on a 39-yard field goal in the first half. Glover has now made 34 career field goals which is tied for seventh all-time.
• Glover was a perfect 4-for-4 in extra points.
• Glover finished the day with seven points kicking. He now has scored 243 points kicking which ranks fourth all-time.
• Junior returner Amare Jones totaled 57 kickoff return yards. He also had a kickoff return of 39 yards. He currently ranks sixth all-time with 1,545 kickoff return yards.
• Jones finished the game with a team-best 90 all-purpose yards.
• Junior punter Ryan Wright finished the game with eight punts for 410 yards (51.2 average). He also finished with five punts that traveled over 50 yards.

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