Tulane avoids upset bid, defeat Tulsa for eighth straight win
Once again, Tulane found itself in a bit of peril, needing to make first downs late in a game to secure a victory.
Once again, Tulane found itself succeeding to put a tight game away, in the win column.
The Green Wave edged Tulsa 24-22 at Yulman Stadium Saturday for its eighth straight win.
It was anything but easy against a 3-6 opponent with Tulane favored by more than three touchdowns.
It was ugly, yet again, for the third straight week.
It was a win, again, something Tulane players, coaches and fans have grown accustomed to.
Tulane preserved the win late, stopping a 2-point conversion and, once again, coming up with key plays to execute a game-ending drive to run out the clock.
Needing a first down with a third-and-nine at its own 26-yard line, Michael Pratt threw a strike to Chris Brazzell for 10 yards and a first down with 2:44 to play before Makhi Hughes broke a 31-yard run for a first down to the Tulsa 33-yard line.
Hughes could have scored a touchdown but intentionally went down to run the clock. Had he scored, Tulane would have needed to make the extra point to have a two-score lead.
That enabled the Green Wave to run out the clock.
Struggling through one half, dealing with injuries and needing a spark, Tulane got that spark with its kick return game to start the second half.
Shedro Louis returned the second half kickoff 100 yards for a score which proved to be huge.
It was the first return of 100 yards for the Green Wave since Fred Smith did so in 2003 and the first kickoff return for a score for Tulane since Stephon Huderson had one in 2019.
Tulane jumped on top early, driving 70 yards in 12 plays with Makhi Hughes scoring on a 1-yard touchdown run to give the Green Wave a 7-0 lead with 7:14 to play in the first quarter.
The Green Wave got the ball back and added to the lead, driving 82 yards in five plays with Pratt hitting Alex Bauman on a 39-yard touchdown pass on the final play of the first quarter and it was 14-0.
The game was going as planned, playing to form.
That form changed dramatically.
The Golden Hurricane drove 75 yards in five plays with K. Francis connecting with K. Benjamin on an 8-yard touchdown pass to cut the Tulane lead to 14-7 with 13:31 to play in the first half.
Tulsa drew closer before the half when C. Meyer kicked a 37-yard field goal to make it 14-10 by the break.
Tulane had 229 yards in the first half while Tulsa had 227 yards.
Louis’ return make it 21-13.
Once again, the Golden Hurricane fought back as Meyer kicked a 30-yard field goal and it was 21-13 with 5:50 to play in the third quarter.
Early in the fourth quarter, Meyer knocked through a 47-yard field goal to pull within 21-16 with 13:58 to play in the game.
Tulane got it back, driving 60 yards in nine plays with Valentino Ambrosio making a 30-yard field goal and it was 24-16 with 9:21 to play.
Tulsa stormed back with a 67-yard drive in just four plays as Braxton hit Benjamin on a 4-yard touchdown pass to make it 24-22 with 3:03 to play in the game.
Looking for the tie, the pass attempt failed as Lance Robinson had outstanding coverage and Keith Cooper Jr. had good pressure.
Tulane had just 128 yards in the second half and were outgained 477-357 by the Golden Hurricane.
Pratt was just okay, completing 16-of-29 passes for 194 yards with a touchdown and an interception and rushed just five times for nine yards.
Hughes rushed 19 times for 131 yards and a score.
The Green Wave lost Lawrence Keys and Cam Wire to injury in the first half. Josh Remetich was already out up front and Jha’Quan Jackson was out as well and they were missed.
As a Group of Five leader for a New Year’s Six bowl game, Tulane held serve but remains a work in progress. Once again, the Green Wave struggled quite a bit against a poor football team, one it was favored to beat in demonstrative fashion.
Tulane has won six straight games by a total of 35 points.
It marked the fourth straight one-score victory for the Green Wave, the first time that has ever occurred in program history.
The good news remains that the Green Wave know how to win. The not-so-good news is that those wins are coming in difficult fashion against mediocre opponents.
The next two games will against decidedly better opposition, at FAU next week and home against UTSA.
To win those games and to get to the American Athletic Conference championship game and win the title again, Tulane must raise the level of its play.
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Born and raised in the New Orleans area, CCSE CEO Ken Trahan has been a sports media fixture in the community for nearly four decades. Ken started NewOrleans.com/Sports with Bill Hammack and Don Jones in 2008. In 2011, the site became SportsNOLA.com. On August 1, 2017, Ken helped launch CrescentCitySports.com. Having accumulated national awards/recognition (National Sports Media Association, National Football…