Strong competition, big plays highlight Tulane Football Spring Game

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Green Wave opens the 2019 season on Aug. 29 at home against FIU

NEW ORLEANS – The Green Wave football team had big plays all over the field during its annual Spring Game at Yulman Stadium on Saturday morning.

Tulane racked up more than 200 yards through the air and more than 125 through the ground, scoring four touchdowns on offense in 25 total minutes of action. Tulane’s defense had plenty of time to shine as well, scoring two defensive touchdowns and forcing four turnovers.

“This was a close as we could get to simulating a real game,” Coach Willie Fritz said. “A lot of these guys, this will be their fourth season coming in to how we do things as a football program. They’ve got confidence in what we’re doing.”

The offense got things started early with quarterbacks Justin McMillan and Keon Howard splitting snaps for a majority of the first quarter. Following two quick stops by the defense, McMillan hooked up with running back Amare Jones for an 18-yard touchdown pass on his second offensive series.

Howard followed that by quarterbacking a 65-yard drive where he found running back Stephon Huderson on a 36-yard touchdown pass.

“I thought we made some explosive plays,” offensive coordinator Will Hall said. “What I’m really proud of is that — over the course 15 practices, five weeks, the meetings – the way the kids have responded, we’re way better today than when we started.”

McMillan likely had the best pass of the day, firing a 50-yard bomb to Darnell Mooney streaking down the right sideline. Two plays later, he found new wide receiver Jalen McCleskey in the back of the end zone for a 10-yard score.

Howard also got the offense going with his legs, rushing six times for 55 yards and a touchdown. His touchdown, a 34-yard run down the right side, capped a nine-play drive for his offensive unit.

“Our offense is built for our playmakers,” McMillan said. “So getting the chance to get these guys the ball and see what they can do with it, I feel good and those guys make me feel comfortable.”

Ten different players caught a pass during Saturday’s game, 10 different players ran the ball and five different quarterbacks threw at least one pass with Josh Holl, Christian Daniels and P.J. Hurst all taking snaps in the second quarter.

But it wasn’t all about the offense Saturday. The defense had the better of the early going with linebacker Sam Bruchhaus recovering a fumble for a 20-yard score on the second play of the game. On Tulane’s next drive, safety Will Harper stepped in front of a Howard pass for an interception.

Later in the game, Sean Harper picked off a pass intended for Jaetavian Toles, and Tirise Barge scooped and scored from 70 yards away after another fumble.

Four different Green Wave players recorded a sack in the game with De’Andre Williams, Carlos Hatcher, Patrick Johnson and Larry Bryant all stopping the quarterback behind the line of scrimmage.

“I think we did a good job today,” Johnson said. “First thing we said when we came out here is, ‘Look at the crowd already.’ We come off of a bowl game, we win it. The energy, everything is just different out here and we love it.”

The morning began with special teams work as kickers Merek Glover and Sterling Stockwell practiced field goals. The team then went through kickoff and punts from Ryan Wright and Coby Neenan before beginning the scrimmage. Kickers and punters got work throughout the game, taking extra points, kickoffs and punts as normal.

Tulane opens the 2019 season on Thursday, August 29 at home against FIU with kickoff scheduled for 7 p.m.

For season ticket information, please call 504-861-WAVE (9283), log on to or visit the ticket office at the James W. Wilson Jr. Center.

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