Tulane dominates FIU in season opener, 42-14

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Tulane is looking for rare back-to-back winning seasons and bowl berths. Through one game, it looks like they may be capable of even more.

The Green Wave rushed for 350 yards and four touchdowns en route to a 42-14 season-opening victory over Florida International on Thursday night at Yulman Stadium.

Corey Dauphine had 76 rushing yards and a pair of touchdowns (14 and 50 yards, respectively) as part of a balanced effort. Darius Bradwell led the Wave’s run game with 90 yards.

Justin McMillan completed 14 of 18 passes and an 18-yard touchdown pass to Tyrick James. The senior quarterback added 51 yards on the ground with a 17-yard touchdown to cap the first half scoring.

Tulane scored touchdowns on four of their final five first half drives to lead 28-7 at the half. The Green Wave never trailed leading 21-0 in the second quarter and 42-7 mid-third quarter while outgaining the Golden Panthers 545-252 in total yards.

A veteran team coming off of a nine-win season, FIU managed just 59 rushing yards.

Tulane (1-0) travels to Auburn next Saturday night.

TULANE 42, FIU 14 – POSTGAME NOTES (16,361 – Attendance)

• The Green Wave captured their third season-opening win in the last four years.
• Tulane improves to 66-58-2 all-time in season openers. In home openers, Tulane has posted an all-time mark of 72-50-4 in home openers.
• Tulane outgained FIU by a 545-267 count. The Green Wave totaled 350 rushing yards compared to the Panthers’ 59 yards.
• The Green Wave collected their first win against FIU. The all-time series is tied at 1-1.
• Tulane improved to 6-1 in its last seven games dating back to last season.
• Tulane’s victory over FIU marked the Green Wave’s first win over an FBS opponent in a season opener since 1998.
• Tulane’s 28 first half points were the most against a FBS team in a season opener since 2001 (BYU).
• The Green Wave’s four first half touchdowns were the most since Tulane’s matchup with Tulsa back in 2017.
• Team captains for today’s game were DB P.J. Hall, LB Lawrence Graham, WR Darnell Mooney and RB Darius Bradwell.
• Junior OL Corey Dublin carried the New Orleans flag. Redshirt senior Keyshawn McLeod carried the American Athletic Conference Power 6 flag.
• Redshirt junior WR Jacob Robertson carried the No. 18 flag in honor of Devon Walker.
• With the win, head coach Willie Fritz improved to 210-95-1 all-time.

• Senior running back Darius Bradwell finished with a game-high 90 yards rushing and moved into sole possession of 15th place on the all-time career rushing list (1,668).
• Senior quarterback Justin McMillan accounted for three touchdowns (two passing and one rushing). He also finished with 267 yards of total offense (199 yards passing and 90 yards rushing).
• The Green Wave offensive starters were QB Justin McMillan, RB Darius Bradwell, RB Amare Jones, TE Tyrick James, WR Darnell Mooney, WR Jalen McCleskey, OL Tyler Johnson, OL Keyshawn McLeod, OL Corey Dublin, OL Christian Montano and OL Joey Claybrook.
• Mooney made his 29th consecutive start, while Dublin made his 26th straight start.
• Since taking over as the team’s starter last season, McMillan has thrown for 12 touchdowns and just four interceptions.
• McMillan improved to 6-1 as a starter.
• Mooney finished the game with a game-high 84 yards receiving. He also caught his 15th career touchdown pass. He is currently tied for 11th all-time at Tulane for touchdown receptions.
• James posted career highs with four receptions and 60 yards. He also hauled in his first career touchdown.
• The Green Wave have now surpassed 100 yards rushing in 41 straight games.
• Tulane finished with 482 yards of total offense. The Green Wave have surpassed 400 yards of total offense 18 times since the start of the 2016 season. Tulane owns a 14-4 record in those games.

• Tulane held FIU to just 267 yards of total offense.
• The Green Wave defensive starters were DL Patrick Johnson, LB Marvin Moody, CB Jaylon Monroe, DL De’Andre Williams, DL Cameron Sample, S P.J. Hall, LB Lawrence Graham, FS Chase Kuerschen, S Will Harper, NT Davon Wright and CB Thakarius Keyes.
• Sample earned his first-career fumble recovery.
• Johnson recorded one sack. Johnson has now earned at least half a sack in 10 of his last 11 games dating back to last season.
• Keyes recorded his first interception of the season and second of his career.
• Redshirt sophomore Willie Langham earned his first-ever career sack, with Tulane totaling two in the team’s win over FIU.
• Moody led the Green Wave with seven total tackles, including three solo. Moody also recorded two pass breakups.
• Wright made his first career start.

• Sophomore Ryan Wright totaled four punts and 180 yards on Thursday night, averaging 45 yards with a long of 58. Wright has now recorded a punt of at least 50 yards in eight of his last 11 games.

Head Coach Willie Fritz
On the team’s play in general…
“It was a good front. We had a pretty good defensive line, and we made sure to crowd the box. We got the ball out there in the front area. We are improving, and we are going to improve our blocking and a couple times they blew the stuff out there. I thought there was a really good job calling the plays on the offensive coaches’ part. We are in sync, and that is good for all of us to get this game built and see where we really are in the game.”

On the win…
“As I said before, I think we have a good squad. I think about our guys that went down there to play a couple of years ago, and we have some different guys playing for us now. We have some good football players. We are bigger on the offensive and defensive lines. And they [FIU] probably did not know exactly what we were going to do either. We were not exactly sure what they were going to do, but they did do what we anticipated for the most part. I am sure there was a little indecisive on their part about what we were going to do offensively.”

On Justin McMillan’s offense…
“It worked out great. Justin fought through a lot of his adversity. His grandfather passed away last night getting ready to come to the game. He handled that as well as he could. The guys rallied around him, and we played an excellent football game. I want to extend our well wishes to the McMillan family going through this tough time right now.”

On the fumble and turnover in the first half…
“That was big. We were on our way to score, and they do have a tight offense. They felt like they could cut it and get another touchdown, but we were able to get that takeaway with keeping the stable on the quarterback and going to score right before half. I think that was a pretty big letdown for them.”

Senior WR Darnell Mooney
On the win…
“We had the confidence through fall camp and knowing what we were capable of. It was good to go against somebody else other than our own team.”

Redshirt Senior QB Justin McMillan
On the win…
“Coach (Will) Hall and Coach Cody (Kennedy) have spent endless hours in the film room getting us prepared. The whole offensive staff and coaching staff came together to make the best game plan that we can use. We feel comfortable with it.”

On his grandfather passing…
“I would say this game is probably with ease one of the most important games of my life. A bad situation happened. He was on his way to the game. My family and I talked about it, and you can’t take it back. It’s the way of life. God bless his soul. I played this game for him.”

Junior DE Patrick Johnson
On being a confident preseason team…
“I honestly feel like it showed tonight. We got the offense out there scoring a bunch of points and started switching up the offense for them to have to throw a lot more. I feel like that’s where we really get after the quarterback and our defense really strives. I really have to give props to the offense. They did an amazing job tonight.”

Head Coach Butch Davis
On the game…
“Attribute it obviously to Tulane, they played really well. We played poorly in all three phases. It starts with me as head coach. I thought we had a really good camp, but tonight we didn’t perform in all three phases. We got beat really bad in the special teams. That part didn’t come out very good. We gave up bad field position. We struggled on third down conversions. They put on a lot of pressure and had some good defensive linemen that can put pressure on a quarterback. If you can’t convert on third downs, it’s hard to sustain a drive. We did a terrible job stopping the run. We got beat, as I mentioned, in all three phases.”

On what is fixable from tonight…
“There better be a lot of it. Western Kentucky is right around the corner. We’ve got to learn from what went on tonight. I’m very anxious to see exactly where the breakdowns were, where the things went wrong. The protection part of it, how we didn’t keep the quarterback a little bit cleaner. James (Morgan) was scrambling, extending plays, forced into trying to throw some throws that we really don’t like from him. But he was trying to make some plays to score the game.”

On not having a preseason…
“I mean it’s the same every year. We try to have two really, really good scrimmages with our ones against our ones. We treat those as if they were preseason games and get good competition, but still its totally different. We’re always worried about how much tackling should you do in preseason because you look in the NFL and everyday there is somebody who is out for the rest of the year because they blew an ACL, or they blew out a shoulder. It’s difficult. You don’t have enough depth and enough players that we can afford to have four, five, six guys get hurt during training camp and then you’re playing with backups and third-team players tonight.

On the message to the team tomorrow…
“I tell them you’ve got to go to work tomorrow and look over the film. We’ve got to learn from the mistakes that we made tonight. We’ve got to minimize those. All that stuff was self-inflicted. The penalties were bad. The turnovers were bad. If you lose in certain areas of the game, you’re statistically going to lose the game and we did tonight.”

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