Tulane falls at No. 2 Oklahoma, 56-14

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Dontrell Hilliard, Tulane at Oklahoma
(Photo: Parker Waters)

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NORMAN, Okla. – Tulane football jumped out to a 14-7 lead at No. 2/3 Oklahoma, but the Sooners were too much in the end, as the Green Wave fell, 56-14, Saturday evening in front of a crowd of 86,290 at Gaylord Family – Oklahoma Memorial Stadium.

Playing against an opponent ranked as high as No. 2 for the first time since 2007, Tulane (1-2) started fast, forcing a turnover on Oklahoma’s opening drive, and converted it into a two-yard touchdown run by senior running back Dontrell Hilliard. The Green Wave then responded with another scoring drive after the Sooners (3-0) tied the game, taking a 14-7 lead at the 4:04 mark of the first quarter.

Hilliard finished with a season-high 104 yards on 19 rushes. He became the12th 2,000-yard rusher in school history and now has 2,065 career yards. Sophomore quarterback Johnathan Brantley, who started in place of the injured Jonathan Banks, ran 19 times for 60 yards and a touchdown, and completed five passes for 43 yards.

“We were running inside zone quite a bit and had some nice seams,” Tulane head coach Willie Fritz said. “The few times that they would squeeze it, we would do pretty well with running the quarterback and running the ball as well. It looked good early, but they made some adjustments and started bringing more people. In the second half, it was corner blitzes and just having a few more people that we couldn’t account for at the point of attack.”

The game was tied, 14-14, after the first period, before the Sooners scored twice in the second quarter to take a 28-14 lead into the half. In the first half, the Wave totaled 224 yards of offense, including 184 on the ground, while OU had 313 yards, including 250 passing yards. Tulane managed just 67 yards in the second half, however, as Oklahoma outgained the Green Wave, 631-291 for the game.

Freshman safety Chase Kuerschen, making his first career start in place of injured junior Roderic Teamer Jr., knocked the ball loose from Oklahoma receiver Mark Andrews after a 29-yard completion on the fifth play of the game. Senior safety Jarrod Franklin jumped on the loose ball, giving the Green Wave possession at their 35.

Brantley, making his third career start, completed a seven-yard pass to junior wide receiver Jabril Clewis on the first play. It was the first reception at Tulane for Clewis. The play started an eight-play, 65-yard drive that culminated in Hilliard’s two-yard plunge into the north end zone to give the Wave a 7-0 lead.

The Sooners then tied the game at seven apiece with a two-play drive, scoring on an 82-yard pass from Baker Mayfield to CeeDee Lamb.

Tulane, however, continued with its offensive momentum, driving 75 yards in nine plays that elapsed 4:28 to retake the lead. Brantley scampered the final 14 yards to the end zone, making the score 14-7 with 4:28 to play in the first quarter.

The combination of Hilliard, Brantley and senior running back Sherman Badie chipped away the yardage, three to seven yards at a time on the two scoring drives. Mixed in were big gains, including runs of 34 by Hilliard, 18 by Badie and a 22-yard completion from Brantley to junior wide receiver Terren Encalade.

Oklahoma responded again, tying the game, 14-14, on a 22-yard pass from Mayfield to Lamb. The Sooners took the lead with 9:50 left in the second quarter when Parnell Motley intercepted Brantley and returned it 77 yards for a touchdown. It was Tulane’s first turnover of the season. OU extended the lead to 28-14 on a 20-yard pass from Mayfield to Abdul Adams.

The Sooners scored four times in the second half, including three fourth-quarter touchdowns, on drives of 70, 69, 41 and 98 yards, to reach the 56-14 final. Mayfield finished the day with 331 yards passing and four touchdowns.

True freshman quarterback Khalil McClain saw his first action of the season, rushing eight times, and completing one pass for 11 yards. True freshman wide receiver Dane Ledford caught that 11-yard pass from McClain and rushed once for four yards in his first career game.

“I think this is a game that in six or seven weeks it can help you out at a little bit,” Fritz said. “Playing a quality opponent, you learn you just have to keep fighting and keep battling, I thought we did a good job of that in the first half. There’s ebbs and flows in a game, and when things aren’t going your way you just have to keep playing and fighting. That’s what we’re teaching our guys.”

The Green Wave return home to play host to Army West Point Saturday, Sept. 23, at Yulman Stadium. Kickoff is set for 11 a.m. 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.





  • Game captains were senior cornerback Parry Nickerson, senior linebacker Luke Jackson, junior wide receiver Terren Encalade and redshirt junior offensive lineman Junior Diaz.
  • Tulane coin toss and deferred to the second half. Oklahoma opted to receive and Tulane chose to defend the south goal.
  • Attendance was 86,290.


  • Tulane wore gray pants, white jerseys and white helmets.
  • Sophomore wide receiver Darnell Mooney carried the No. 18 flag, honoring former Tulane football student-athlete Devon Walker, who was injured and paralyzed during a game in 2012. Redshirt senior defensive end Eldrick Washington carried the American Athletic Conference P6 flag leading the Green Wave out of the tunnel.
  • The crowd of 86,290 is the fifth-largest crowd to view a game at Gaylord Family – Oklahoma Memorial Stadium and the sixth-largest crown Tulane has played in front of in school history.
  • Tulane is 0-36-1 all-time vs. a team ranked in the top five. The tie was a 6-6 tie to No. 5 Alabama on Sept. 24, 1960.
  • The Green Wave allowed 50 or more points for the first time since a 50-27 setback at Tulsa on Oct. 22, 2016.
  • Tulane allowed more than 600 yards of total offense for the first time since UAB totaled 622 offensive yards on Oct. 27, 2012.
  • Tulane faced an opponent ranked in the top three for the first time since taking on second-ranked LSU on Sept. 29, 2007 (L, 34-9).
  • Tulane committed its first turnover of the season at the 9:50 mark in the second quarter. The 77-yard interception return for a touchdown was the first pick six the Green Wave allowed since allowing two at UCF on Nov. 5, 2016.
  • The Green Wave have rushed for 100 or more yards in 18 straight games, dating back to the final three games of the 2015 season.
  • In 15 games under head coach Willie Fritz, Tulane has forced a fumble in eight games (six last season and Navy and Oklahoma this season) and had a fumble recovery in eight games (six last season and Navy and Oklahoma this season).
  • Fritz is just two wins away from reaching 200 for his coaching career. Of his 198 wins, 62 have come on the NCAA Division I level (Football Bowl Subdivision and Football Championship Subdivision).


  • Senior cornerback Parry Nickerson made his 36th career start, redshirt senior nickelback Jarrod Franklin made his 27th consecutive start and senior defensive lineman Ade Aruna made his 21st straight start, senior running back Dontrell Hilliard made his 17th straight start, redshirt junior offensive lineman Leglue, junior receiver Terren Encalade and sophomore offensive lineman Leeward Brown made their 15th consecutive starts.
  • Junior safety Roderic Teamer Jr. had his consecutive start streak halted at 14 games. He did not play in the game.
  • With his two-yard touchdown run at the 9:30 mark in the first quarter, Hilliard hit the 2,000-yard mark for his career. He is just the 12th running back in school history to eclipse 2,000 career rushing yards and the first since Orleans Darkwa amassed 2,953 from 2010-13.
  • Hilliard rushed for 104 yards on 19 carries. He went over 100 yards rushing for the first time this season and the first time since rushing for 111 yards vs. SMU on Oct. 29, 2016. This marked the sixth, 100-yard rushing performance of his career, which ranks tied for ninth most in school history with Jerald Sowell (1993-96).
  • Hilliard’s touchdown was the 20th of his career, cracking the school’s all-time top 10 list for rushing touchdowns.
  • Junior wide receiver Jabril Clewis caught the first pass of his Tulane career, a seven-yard reception, at the 13:00 mark in the first quarter.
  • Freshman quarterback/wide Dane Ledford saw the first action of his collegiate career in the second quarter. He caught an 11-yard pass and rushed once for four yards.
  • Freshman quarterback Khalil McClain saw the first action of his collegiate career in the third quarter. He completed one pass for 11 yards, and rushed eight times.
  • Freshman safety Chase Kuerschen earned the first start of his Tulane career.
  • Kuerschen caused a fumble at the 13:00 mark in the first quarter for the second forced fumble in as many games.
  • Redshirt senior Nickelback Jarrod Franklin recovered his first fumble of the season and the third of his career at the 13:00 mark in the first quarter.
  • Redshirt junior linebacker Zachery Harris earned the first start of the season and the 20th start of his career.
  • Senior linebacker Luke Jackson was credited with sack for the third straight game, moving his career total to 4.5 sacks.
  • Redshirt junior quarterback Glen Cuiellette lined up at quarterback for the first time this season at the 5:33 mark in the second quarter. He kicked a 31-yard punt that was downed at the Oklahoma five-yard line. The marked 1the fifth punt of his career.
  • Sophomore placekicker Merek Glover connected on the first points of his career with two PATs.
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