Tulane makes it three straight wins with 24-18 victory over ECU
NEW ORLEANS – The Tulane Green Wave football team produced 535 yards of total offense, but it was the defense that stood strong when the team needed it most late in a thrilling 24-18 victory over the ECU Pirates Saturday night in Yulman Stadium.
Holding on to a lead of just six points for the final 12 minutes of the game, Tulane (5-5, 4-2 American Athletic Conference) weathered four consecutive ECU (2-7, 0-6) offensive drives in the fourth quarter that resulted in no points for the Pirates to secure the victory.
The Green Wave successfully broke up 20 passes over the course of the game, setting a new NCAA record and is the most in an FBS game in 2018. Roderick Teamer Jr led the defense with 10 total tackles which tied his career high, including a sack and tackle for loss. P.J. Hall recorded the first interception of his career as he and Donnie Lewis finished tied for second in tackles with six each.
Quarterback Justin McMillan threw for a career-best 372 yards and three scores in the win for the Green Wave, becoming the first signal caller since Ryan Griffin in 2012 to throw for over 350 yards in a game and toss three touchdown passes since Jonathan Banks last year against SMU.
Wide receiver Darnell Mooney finished the night with a career-high 217 yards receiving in the game and two touchdowns on six receptions. Not only did Mooney set the Yulman Stadium record for the longest play from scrimmage with an 86-yard touchdown reception, but his 36.2 yards per catch average is also a new school record.
Terren Encalade caught the other McMillan touchdown, as the senior became the 11th Tulane player in program history to eclipse 2,000 yards receiving in a career with his one catch for 73 yards.
Running back Darius Bradwell led Tulane in rushing with 77 yards on 19 carries, followed by Corey Dauphine’s 47 yards on 17 carries.
Tulane sacked ECU quarterback Holton Ahlers five times in the contest, as the visiting quarterback finished the game throwing 21-for-67 for 360 yards, two touchdowns and an interception. The Pirates ended the game with 450 yards of total offense but was 3-for-21 on third downs.
After ECU was able to get on the board first with a field goal early in the first quarter, it would take some time for Tulane to finally get something going offensively. Fortunately, on the team’s third drive of the day, McMillan tossed a dart to Mooney who broke free coming across the middle for an 86-yard score to put the Green Wave up 7-3.
On the ensuing drive for the Pirates, a pair of big plays got ECU into Tulane territory and threatening, but on second and nine at the Green Wave 36, Hall intercepted Ahlers in the end zone and returned it 20 yards to end the drive.
Deep in their own territory in the second quarter, McMillan found Mooney for a 13-yard gain on third down to get out of the shadows of their own end zone and keep the drive alive. On the very next play, Encalade hooked up with McMillan, and thanks to a big block from tight end Will Wallace went 73 yards for the score to make it 14-3.
An 80-yard touchdown pass for the Pirates near the end of the first half made it a one-score game again, but out of the break the Green Wave struck again. McMillan once again found Mooney coming across the middle and hit the senior in stride, this time going 79 yards to put Tulane up 21-10.
On ECU’s second drive of the fourth quarter, Ahlers connected with receiver Trevon Brown for a 31-yard touchdown pass to make the score 24-16. The Pirates went for the two-point conversion and was successful, making the score 21-18.
It would be the final score for ECU, as Merek Glover connected for a 33-yard field goal with 7:35 left on the clock to push the Green Wave lead back to six. The Pirates would not be able to score again after that, as two of the next three ECU drives ended in a turnover on downs and one punt.
The Green Wave will be back in action next Thursday, traveling to take on the Houston Cougars at TDECU Stadium at 7 p.m. The game will be televised live on ESPN.
TULANE 24, ECU 18 – POSTGAME NOTES (20,860 – Attendance)
• Tulane’s matchup with East Carolina marked the 16th meeting between the two schools. With the win, the Green Wave improved to 5-11 all-time against ECU.
• Tulane’s win over ECU is the Green Wave’s third straight win. Tulane has not won three straight games since the 2013 season.
• Tulane has never won three straight games in American Athletic Conference play. Since 2000, Tulane has just seven winning streaks of three games or more. Tulane’s four wins in AAC play are the most since it joined the league in 2014.
• With the win, Tulane improves to 3-2 at home.
• Team captains for today’s game were OL Noah Fisher, WR Darnell Mooney, DL De’Andre Williams and DB Rod Teamer Jr.
• Sophomore DL Patrick Johnson carried the No. 18 flag in honor of Devon Walker.
• Following the win, Coach Willie Fritz improved to 207-94-1 all-time. He also improved to 40-23 all-time in November.
• Both teams combined for five scoring drives which spanned less than 60 seconds.
• The Green Wave offensive starters were QB Justin McMillan, RB Corey Dauphine, WR Darnell Mooney, WR Terren Encalade, TE Charles Jones II, TE Will Wallace, OL Noah Fisher, OL Dominique Briggs, OL Corey Dublin, OL John Leglue and OL Joey Claybrook.
• Encalade and Leglue each made their 34th consecutive start. Encalade’s start was the 41st of his career.
• Mooney finished the game with a career high 217 yards receiving. His 217-yard effort is the fifth-most receiving yards for a single game in program history.
• Mooney finished the game with a school-record 36.1 yards per catch. The previous record was held by JaJuan Dawson with 29.1 yards per catch.
• Mooney’s 86-yard receiving touchdown was the longest play from scrimmage in Yulman Stadium history.
• Mooney also hauled in a touchdown of 79 yards.
• Encalade surpassed 2,000 career receiving yards following a 73-yard touchdown reception. Encalade is just the 11th Tulane pass catcher to surpass 2,000 career passing yards.
• Encalade’s touchdown was the 14th of his career, which is tied for 12th all-time at Tulane.
• McMillan finished the game with a career high 372 yards. He also had a career high three touchdowns.
• McMillan’s 372-yard passing effort is tied for 18th all-time for a single game with former Tulane QB Shaun King.
• Tulane’s 372-yard passing effort was a season high.
• Junior RB Darius Bradwell rushed for a game-high 77 yards but did not reach the end zone, which snapped a seven-game touchdown streak.
• The Green Wave have now surpassed 100 yards rushing in 37 straight games.
• Tulane surpassed 400 yards for the 15th time in the Willie Fritz era. The Green Wave are 11-4 in those games.
• Tulane finished with a season-best 535 yards of total offense.
• The Green Wave defensive starters were CB Donnie Lewis Jr., S Roderic Teamer Jr., S P.J. Hall, CB Willie Langham, LB Lawrence Graham, LB Marvin Moody, LB Zachery Harris, DL Patrick Johnson, DL Robert Kennedy, DL De’Andre Williams and DL Jeffery Johnson.
• Lewis made his 41st career start. His 41 career starts are the most of any current player on the defense.
• CB Willie Langham made his first career start.
• Lewis tied a career high with six pass breakups.
• As a team, Tulane finished with a NCAA-record 20 pass breakups.
• Teamer tied a career-high with 10 tackles. His 10 stops also were a game high.
• DB P.J. Hall recorded his first career interception. He also set a career high with four pass breakups.
• CB Jaylon Monroe had a career-high four pass breakups.
• Johnson totaled a sack for the seventh straight game. He currently has nine sacks on the year, which is tied for fifth all-time for a single season.
• Johnson also has tallied a tackle for loss in nine straight games.
• Tulane finished with five sacks against ECU. Through 10 games this season, Tulane has registered 30 sacks. The Green Wave finished 2017 with 14 sacks.
SPECIAL TEAMS NOTES
• K Merek Glover connected on a 33-yard field goal.
• P Ryan Wright had a punt of 50 yards or more for the fifth time this season.