South Florida holds off 4th quarter comeback to beat Tulane, 34-28

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(Photo: Parker Waters)

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Tulane Football Falls Short Against No. 16/13 USF, 34-28

NEW ORLEANS – Senior running back Dontrell Hilliard ran for 94 yards and two, fourth-quarter touchdowns as Tulane scored 21 unanswered points in the second half, but fell short to No. 16/13 USF, 34-28, Saturday evening in front of a crowd of 17,256 at Yulman Stadium.

Junior quarterback Jonathan Banks passed for a season-high 221 yards and a touchdown, while Hilliard scored on a 24-yard reception and a 16-yard run in the fourth quarter to make the score 34-28. Junior wide receiver Terren Encalade led the Green Wave with 93 yards on two catches, including a 73-yard reception from Banks. Tulane (3-4, 1-2 American Athletic Conference | West) totaled 415 yards of offense, including a season-high 221 passing yards.

USF (7-0, 4-0 American Athletic Conference | East) totaled 505 yards of offense, including 378 rushing yards. Senior quarterback Quinton Flowers passed for 127 yards and two touchdowns, and ran for 138 yards and a score, while senior running back Darius Tice rushed for 141 yards and a touchdown.

“I was proud of our guys fighting through to the end of the game,” head coach Willie Fritz said. “Those guys are ranked as high as 13th in the country and to come within a touchdown, we don’t have moral victories, but it didn’t look good for us at the beginning of the second half. We kept fighting throughout the second half and made it a very competitive ballgame.”

Tulane trailed 34-7 when redshirt junior cornerback Donnie Lewis Jr. picked off a Flowers pass that was deflected off the hands of freshman safety Chase Kuerschen and the foot of the intended Bulls receiver. The Green Wave took advantage of the turnover, scoring three plays later when senior running back Sherman Badie bowled through a would-be tackler and raced to the pylon for a 36-yard touchdown.

Two possessions later, Banks found Hilliard wide open for a 24-yard strike to cut it to 34-21 with 7:40 to play in the game. The touchdown capped 54-yard drive covered in four plays. USF then drove to the Tulane 19-yard line, but its 35-yard field goal attempt was blocked by Lewis and picked up by senior cornerback Parry Nickerson to give the Green Wave the ball with 4:08 remaining.

On the next play, Banks hit sophomore wide receiver Darnell Mooney for a 36-yard gain to the USF 35-yard line. Banks followed that play with an 18-yard scramble and Hilliard then ran the final 16 yards, fighting through defenders to reach the end zone, cutting the deficit to 34-28 with 2:45 to play. The Bulls, however, recovered the onside kick and ran out the clock.

Kuerschen led the Wave with a career-high 14 tackles, while senior safety Jarrod Franklin tallied a career-best 12 stops.

The Bulls extended their halftime lead to 34-7 with a pair of third-quarter touchdowns on a 28-yard touchdown pass from Flowers to Marquez Valdez-Scantling and a two-yard run by D’Ernest Johnson.

USF scored on its opening drive of the game, traveling 85 yards in 10 plays off the opening kickoff to take a 7-0 lead on a 21-yard run by Flowers. It was the first touchdown the Tulane defense had allowed on the opening possession all season.

After a pair of punts, the Bulls extended their lead to 13-0 on a 45-yard run by Tice. The point-after attempt was blocked by junior safety Roderic Teamer Jr.

The Tulane offense, after an interception and a turnover on downs on its previous two possessions, found the end zone on the ensuing drive to cut the deficit to 13-7 with 2:49 left until halftime. Banks found Encalade on a slant pass, and the junior wide receiver raced 73 yards to the end zone. The scoring play was a career-long reception for Encalade, and a career-long pass for Banks at Tulane.

The Bulls took a 20-7 lead into the break after a 38-yard touchdown pass from Flowers to Darnel Salomon with 0:42 left in the half.

The Green Wave have a short turnaround to a Friday night road contest at Memphis. Kickoff is set for 7 p.m. from Liberty Bowl Memorial Stadium and carried live on CBS Sports Network.

Follow Tulane football on Twitter, Facebook and @GreenWaveFB on Snapchat. Follow Tulane Athletics on Twitter, Facebook­, Instagram and @TulaneAthletics on Snapchat.


Oct. 21, 2017


  • Game captains were senior linebacker Rae Juan Marbley, redshirt junior quarterback Glen Cuiellette, redshirt junior offensive lineman Junior Diaz and redshirt junior safety Roderic Teamer.
  • USF won the coin toss and chose to defer. Tulane defended the north end zone in the first quarter.
  • Attendance was 17,256.


  • Tulane wore white helmets, green jerseys and white pants.
  • Freshman offensive lineman and New Orleans native Corey Dublin carried the No. 18 flag, honoring former Tulane football student-athlete Devon Walker, who was injured and paralyzed during a game in 2012.
  • Tulane has now forced a turnover in eight consecutive games, dating back to the final game of last season at UConn on Nov. 26, 2016.
  • In 19 games under head coach Willie Fritz, Tulane has recorded an interception in 14 games (eight last season and Grambling State, Navy, Army West Point, Tulsa, FIU and USF this season), including in 10 of the team’s last 12 games and 13 of the team’s last 16 games.
  • The Green Wave have rushed for 100 or more yards in 22 straight games, dating back to the final three games of the 2015 season.
  • The Green Wave have now rushed for at least 190 yards in each of its first seven games this season.
  • Tulane passed for more than 100 yards for the fourth time this season. The other two games were Grambling State (185 yards) on Sept. 2, Army West Point (103 yards) on Sept. 23 and Tulsa (165 yards) on Oct. 7.


  • Redshirt senior cornerback Parry Nickerson made his 40th career start, redshirt senior Jarrod Franklin made his 31st consecutive start (33rd in his career), senior running back Dontrell Hilliard made his 20th straight start (28th in his career), and redshirt junior offensive lineman John Leglue (20th in his career) and junior receiver Terren Encalade (26th in his career) made their 19th consecutive starts.
  • Redshirt junior Kendall Ardoin got his first start this season and his 18th career start.
  • Junior wide receiver Jabril Clewis caught a pass for his fifth consecutive game, dating back to the Oklahoma game on Sept. 16.
  • Junior quarterback Jonathan Banks’ 73-yard touchdown pass to redshirt junior wide receiver Terren Encalade was the longest pass reception of the season. The touchdown pass was the longest of Banks’ Tulane career and the catch was the longest of Encalade’s collegiate career.
  • Banks threw for 221 yards, his first passing game of more than 200 passing yards of his Tulane career. His previous high was 185 yards vs. Grambling State on Sept. 2, 2017.
  • Banks posted the second multi-passing touchdown game of his Tulane career with two touchdown passes. His first multi-passing touchdown game was in the season opener vs. Grambling State when he threw for three touchdowns.
  • With the 73-yard touchdown catch, Encalade went over 1,000 receiving yards for his career. He now has 1,089 career receiving yards. It was his third touchdown catch this season and ninth of his career.
  • With 94 rushing yards, senior running back Dontrell Hilliard moved into fifth on the school’s career rushing yards list with 2,558 career yards, surpassing Bill Banker’s 2,516 rushing yards from 1927-29.
  • Hilliard caught his second touchdown of the season and fourth of his career with his 24-yard scoring reception in the fourth quarter.
  • Hilliard rushed for a touchdown for his sixth consecutive game, dating back to the Navy game on Sept. 9, 2017.
  • With his 16-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter, Hilliard has 27 career running touchdowns to his credit. He ranks fifth all-time in school history, behind Eddie Price’s 30 rushing touchdowns from 1946-49.
  • Redshirt senior running back Sherman Badie rushed for his second touchdown this season and the eighth of his career with his 36-yard scamper in the third quarter.
  • With one pass breakup, redshirt senior cornerback Parry Nickerson now sits fourth all-time in school history with 27 career pass breakups.
  • Redshirt junior cornerback Donnie Lewis Jr. picked off his third interception this season and fifth of his career in the third quarter.
  • Nickerson and Lewis Jr. have accounted for 10 of Tulane’s last 12 interceptions, dating back to last season: UCF (Nickerson), Houston (Lewis Jr.), UConn (Nickerson and Lewis Jr.) last season and Grambling State (Lewis Jr.), Navy (Nickerson), Army West Point (Lewis Jr. and Nickerson), FIU (Nickerson) and USF (Lewis Jr.) this season.
  • Redshirt senior nickelback Jarrod Franklin recorded a career-high 12 tackles, topping his previous high of 11 tackles vs. SMU on Oct. 29, 2016.
  • Freshman safety Chase Kuerschen recorded a career-high 14 tackles, topping his previous high of eight tackles at Navy on Sept. 9.
    •  Junior safety Roderic Teamer’s block of the USF PAT attempt at the 5:18 mark in the second quarter was the first of his career. It also marked Tulane’s first block of the season.
  • Teamer’s block was the first time Tulane had blocked a PAT since Derrick Strozier did so vs. Memphis on Oct. 22, 2011.
  • Lewis Jr.’s block of the USF 35-yard field goal attempt at the 4:08 mark in the fourth quarter was the first of his career. It marked Tulane’s second block of the game and second of the season.
  • Tulane last blocked two kicks in a game at UConn on Nov. 26, 2016 and last blocked a field goal in that same game.
  • Banks kicked the second punt of his Tulane career in the second quarter. His 31-yard punt was downed at the USF one-yard line. Both of his punts have been downed inside of the opponents’ five-yard line.
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