Tulane falls at FIU, 23-10

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Dontrell Hilliard

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MIAMI – Tulane football dropped its non-conference tilt at FIU, 23-10, in front of a crowd of 16,433 Saturday evening at Riccardo Silva Stadium.

The Green Wave fell to 3-3 overall, while the Panthers improved to 4-2 on the season. Tulane totaled 239 yards of offense, including 203 rushing yards, while FIU finished with 438 yards – 220 passing and 218 rushing. Senior running back Dontrell Hilliard ran 12 times for 90 yards and a touchdown while junior quarterback Jonathan Banks tallied 59 rushing yards.

“Give them the credit. They were prepared and had a good game plan against us offensively and defensively,” Tulane head coach Willie Fritz said. “They won the ballgame. We will have to move on from this game. It is disappointing.”

The FIU offense drove to the Tulane 27-yard line on its opening possession and threw into the end zone, but senior cornerback Parry Nickerson turned in front of the receiver to pick off his 13th career interception. After the Green Wave were forced to punt, the Panthers drove 83 yards in seven plays to take a 7-0 lead on a 12-yard touchdown pass from Alex McGough to Pharaohs McKever.

The Green Wave responded on the ensuing drive with a 57-yard drive that resulted in a 35-yard field goal by Merek Glover to cut it to 7-3 with 14:08 to play in the second quarter. It was the first career field goal for the sophomore placekicker and the second of the season for the Green Wave.

FIU responded with a 15-play, 78-yard drive that ended with a 22-yard field goal to make the score 10-3 with 7:49 left in the half. That score would hold until halftime, as Tulane drove to the FIU 19-yard line but was stopped on fourth down with 0:56 on the clock. The Wave took possession when redshirt freshman cornerback Tre Jackson picked off his first career interception on a pass tipped by freshman defensive end Cameron Sample.

The Green Wave reached the end zone with 5:25 left in the third quarter when Hilliard scored on a 12-yard run to make the score 13-10. The Tulane offense took over after a 42-yard FIU field goal and traveled 75 yards in seven plays in putting together an ensemble effort drive. Senior running back Sherman Badie ran for 13 yards and a first down on two carries, sophomore running back Darius Bradwell broke a 29-yard run, freshman running back Stephon Huderson had a five-yard carry for a first down and Banks picked up a first down with an 11-yard run. On the next play, Hilliard broke a tackle and beat the defense to the corner for his eighth touchdown of the season.

After the teams traded punts, the Panthers extended their lead to 20-10 on a three-yard run by Shawndarrius Phillips with 13:07 on the fourth quarter clock. FIU kicker Jose Barrelages added a third field goal with a 39-yard kick to make the score 23-10 with 5:30 left in the game.

Tulane mounted a quick 52-yard drive in response but fell short on fourth down at the FIU 17-yard line. Banks completed a 25-yard pass to junior wide receiver Jabil Clew is and ran for first downs with 14- and 13-yard scampers to reach the 19. After a two-yard pass to Hilliard, a sack on fourth down ended the hopes for a late comeback.

FIU quarterback Alex McGough was 17-for-31 passing for 220 yards and one touchdown, and wide receiver Thomas Owens caught six passes for 152 yards.

The Green Wave return to conference play next week, hosting No. 18 USF at Yulman Stadium. Kickoff is set for 6 p.m. on ESPN2. Tickets are available online at TulaneTix.com, by calling 504-861-WAVE, or in person at the Tulane Athletics Ticket Office in the James W. Wilson Jr. Center on Ben Weiner Drive.

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

TULANE FOOTBALL POSTGAME NOTES AT FIU

Oct. 14, 2017

GAME

  • Game captains were senior cornerback Parry Nickerson, senior running back Dontrell Hilliard, senior defensive tackle Sean Wilson and sophomore wide receiver Darnell Mooney.
  • Tulane won the coin toss and chose to defer. Tulane defended the east end zone in the first quarter.
  • Attendance was 16,433.

TEAM

  • Tulane wore white pants, white jerseys and white helmets.
  • Sophomore long snapper Geron Eatherly carried the No. 18 flag, honoring former Tulane football student-athlete Devon Walker, who was injured and paralyzed during a game in 2012. Redshirt junior offensive lineman Junior Diaz carried the American Athletic Conference P6 (#AmericanPow6r) flag leading the Green Wave out of the tunnel.
  • Tulane has now forced a turnover in seven consecutive games, dating back to the final game of last season at UConn on Nov. 26, 2016.
  • The Green Wave lost the ball twice (interception and fumble) in the game. Tulane came into the game ranked second in the nation with two turnovers lost through its first five games.
  • Tulane has rushed for 100 or more yards in 21 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 six games this season.
  • In 18 games under head coach Willie Fritz, Tulane has recorded an interception in 13 games (eight last season and Grambling State, Navy, Army West Point, Tulsa and FIU this season), including in nine of the team’s last 11 games and 12 of the team’s last 15 games.

PLAYERS

  • Redshirt senior cornerback Parry Nickerson made his 39th career start, redshirt senior Jarrod Franklin made his 30th consecutive start, senior running back Dontrell Hilliard made his 19th straight start, redshirt junior offensive lineman John Leglue and junior receiver Terren Encalade made their 18th consecutive starts.
  • Four players on the Tulane roster are from the Miami area – redshirt sophomore offensive lineman Leeward Brown (Miami), redshirt junior offensive lineman Junior Diaz (Miami), redshirt junior defensive tackle Braynon Edwards (Miami) sophomore linebacker Lawrence Graham (Lauderhill, Fla.).
  • Redshirt junior wide receiver Terren Encalade’s streak of 14 consecutive games with a reception was broken. His streak dated back to Sept. 24, 2016 against UL Lafayette.
  • Hilliard now has 26 rushing touchdowns in his career, moving him into sole possession of fifth all-time on the school’s career rushing touchdowns list.
  • Junior quarterback Jonathan Banks threw the first interception of his Tulane career at the 13:15 mark in the third quarter.
  • Nickerson grabbed his third interception of the season and the 13th of his career at the 8:23 mark in the first quarter. He is now tied for fourth all-time in school history with Mitchell Price (1987-89).
  • Nickerson also moved up the school’s career list for passes broken up. He now has 26 for his career and sits tied for fourth all-time with Elijah Freeman (1993-96).
  • Nickerson set a career high with nine tackles, eclipsing his previous best of eight at East Carolina on Nov. 22, 2014.
  • Senior linebacker Rae Juan Marbley set a career high with 15 tackles. Nine of those tackles came in the first half. His previous best was 13 tackles vs. Army West Point earlier this season.
  • Redshirt freshman cornerback Tre Jackson grabbed the first interception of his career at the 2:18 mark in the second quarter.
  • Sophomore Merek Glover connected on his first career field goal (35 yards) at the 14:08 mark in the second quarter. It was Tulane’s second made field goal on the season.
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