Senior quarterback throws for 466 yards and five scores; Grant, Rush both post 100-yard receiving games
NEW ORLEANS – Senior quarterback Ryan Griffin threw for a school-record 466 yards and tallied a career-high five touchdown passes as the Tulane University football team defeated Conference USA foe UAB, 55-45, on Saturday afternoon in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome.
Completing 34-of-42 passes, Griffin eclipsed the previous mark of 447 established by Patrick Ramsey against Army on Sept. 18, 1999. It was Griffin’s third-straight game with 300-plus passing yards, and he becomes the first Tulane quarterback to accomplish that feat since J.P. Losman surpassed the 300-yard mark in the first four games of the 2003 season.
With the win, the Green Wave’s second in their last three games, Tulane improves to 2-6 on the year and evens its C-USA mark at 2-2. It is the first time Tulane held a .500 mark in league play four games into the conference schedule since 2002. UAB, meanwhile, fell to 1-7 on the year and 0-4 in league play.
“It was a great day for our quarterback,” first-year Tulane head football coach Curtis Johnson said. “He’s putting up Arena League numbers…He was just sensational. I thought our team fought hard. Our defense would bend, but didn’t break. They created turnovers, and I thought that was a key also. Today we also ran the ball well. We’re starting to balance this thing out a little better offensively. We’re throwing it around a little bit and we did well today against a good opponent.”
Griffin’s record-setting effort highlighted a game that saw Tulane pile up 619 yards of total offense – the most by a Green Wave squad since the 1998 team rolled up 633 in the regular-season finale against Louisiana Tech.
Wideouts Xavier Rush and Ryan Grant both surpassed the 100-yard receiving mark with 126 on eight catches and 184 on six grabs, respectively, and both pulled down a pair of touchdown passes. Junior Wilson Van Hooser accounted for Griffin’s final scoring strike of the afternoon with a 16-yard grab midway through the third quarter. Sophomore running back Rob Kelley led all players with nine catches for a career-best 66 yards.
In addition to the aerial attack, Tulane’s running game got on track against the Blazers as the Wave finished the day with 153 yards on 37 carries. Junior Orleans Darkwa led the way with 74 yards and two touchdowns on 20 carries, while Kelley chipped in with 59 yards on eight totes to finish the game with 125 all-purpose yards.
The Green Wave defense gave up a season-high 622 yards to the Blazers, but came up big when it counted. Tulane tallied four turnovers – including a pair of interceptions by freshman cornerback Lorenzo Doss – and stopped UAB on a key fourth-down attempt late in the game to quiet any talks of a comeback.
Senior linebacker Darryl Farley led Tulane with nine stops (7 solo, 2 assists) and a sack among 1.5 tackles for loss. Sophomore safety Sam Scofield accounted for the Green Wave’s other interception with a pick in the second quarter, and sophomore linebacker Matthew Bailey had two of the team’s six pass break-ups.
“The ‘D’ did a great job at the end getting those interceptions,” Griffin said. “Hats off to UAB for keeping it close at the end and keeping the pedal pressed down. But it was just a great job by the offense overall. Fifty-five points is huge.
“I’ll take (the single-game passing record), as long as we win. I was out counting defensive players at the end because I just wanted to win. This is a huge testament to the summer work, spring work, fall work, everything. The o-line, the receivers, the backs, everyone did a great job. It feels good to have (the record) and it feels even better in a win.”
The Green Wave defense got their first turnover of the day early in the first when redshirt-freshman defensive end Aaron Bryant pounced on a fumble knocked out by Farley to set up the Tulane offense at their own 29-yard line. Eight plays later, Griffin found Rush down the middle for a 21-yard touchdown pass to set the tone for the day.
UAB answered on the ensuing drive when Darrin Reaves plunged in from one-yard out, but Tulane came right back with an eight-play, 75-yard drive which culminated with another Griffin-to-Rush scoring strike – this time for 15 yards – to give the home team a lead it would not relinquish.
Griffin kept things going with a 61-yard touchdown pass to Grant early in the second quarter and junior placekicker Cairo Santos booted a 21-yard field goal with 10:00 to play in the first half to stretch the Tulane lead to 24-7. Following a 25-yard field goal by UAB’s Ty Long, Tulane lit up the scoreboard again as Griffin connected with Grant for an eight-yard touchdown pass. UAB closed out the first-half scoring when Austin Brown hooked up with Kennard Backman for a one-yard strike to make it 31-17 at the break.
The Blazers made things interesting early in the third quarter as the defense forced a three-and-out and Reaves once again found the endzone with a two-yard run to make it one-score affair. Tulane answered with Griffin’s 16-yard scoring pass to Van Hooser, and a back-and-forth slugfest ensued.
UAB cut the deficit to seven at 38-31 on a Brown-to-Jackie Williams 12 yard touchdown pass, and Darkwa scored from one-yard out on the first play of the fourth quarter to make it 45-31. The Blazers came right back 25-yard Reaves touchdown run but following a 32-yard Santos field goal, the Green Wave defense halted a promising UAB drive when Doss picked off Brown at the Tulane 40.
The Blazers held Tulane on fourth down on the Green Wave’s next drive, but Doss came up with his second pick on the ensuing possession. On the very next play, Darkwa took a handoff from Griffin and ran 32 yards untouched around the left end to provide Tulane with its final points. UAB made it a 10-point ballgame when Brown found Backman for a 20-yard touchdown with 3:03 left to play and recovered an on-side kick, but the Tulane defense allowed just seven yards over the next four plays to clinch the victory.
“We knew we had to get a stop,” Doss said. “If we could just get a stop, our offense could score easily. Julius Warmsley and Coach (Lionel Washington) gave us a speech saying we just needed a stop. We were able to get a three-and-out.”
Brown finished the day 26-for-52 for 409 yards and three touchdowns. Reaves led all players with 166 rushing yards and three scores on 21 attempts and paced UAB with seven catches. Williams and Nick Adams both had over 100 receiving yards with respective totals of 143 on six grabs and 119 on five receptions. Marvin Burdette led the Blazers’ defense with 24 tackles (16 solo, 8 assists).
The Green Wave return to action on Saturday, Nov. 3, when they celebrate Homecoming 2012 against Rice. Kickoff for that game is slated for 2:30 p.m. Tickets next weekend’s game as well as future Green Wave events are available through the Tulane Athletics Ticket Office. The Ticket Office is located on the first floor of the Wilson Center on Ben Weiner Drive, and tickets can be purchased in person, over the phone at 504-861-WAVE (9283) or via the Internet at www.TulaneGreenWave.com.
--get postgame notes-
NOTES FOLLOWING TULANE FOOTBALL’S 55-45 CONFERENCE USA WIN OVER UAB
Tulane 55, UAB 45
Tulane Game 8
New Orleans, La.
__MCE_ITEM__· Saturday’s game marked the ninth meeting between Tulane and UAB. With the win, the Green Wave now hold a 5-4 lead in the all-time series. It is the second consecutive time Tulane defeated the Blazers after earning a 49-10 decision on Sept. 17, 2011, at Legion Field in Birmingham.
__MCE_ITEM__· With the win, Tulane improves to 2-6 on the year and evens its Conference USA record at 2-2. The last time the Green Wave were .500 in league play four games into the conference season was 2002 when Tulane defeated Houston 34-13 on Sept. 7, lost at East Carolina 24-20 on Sept. 14, lost at Memphis 38-10 on Sept. 21 and defeated Cincinnati 35-17 on Oct. 12. That year, Tulane finished 8-5 overall, 4-4 in C-USA play and defeated Hawai’i 36-28 in the ConAgra Foods Hawai’i Bowl.
__MCE_ITEM__· The Green Wave offense posted season-high marks across the board with 26 first downs, 153 rushing yards, 466 passing yards, 619 total yards and 55 points.
__MCE_ITEM__· Tulane’s 55 points against UAB marks the first time the Green Wave surpassed the 50-point plateau since a 54-49 win over Rice on Nov. 13, 2010, in the Superdome, and are the most by the Wave since defeating the Blazers 59-55 on Oct. 23, 2004, in Tad Gormley Stadium.
__MCE_ITEM__· Tulane’s 26 first downs were the most by Tulane since equaling the mark against Memphis on Oct. 22, 2011, in the Superdome.
__MCE_ITEM__· The Wave’s 619 yards of total offense marks the first time a Tulane team surpassed the 600-yard barrier since posting 633 against Louisiana Tech on Nov. 26, 1998.
__MCE_ITEM__· Tulane’s 153 rushing yards were the most since the 2011 season finale when the Green Wave tallied 185 at Hawai’i on Nov. 26, 2011.
__MCE_ITEM__· The Tulane defense forced four turnovers with three interceptions and a fumble recovery. The Green Wave have now forced at least one turnover in each game during the 2012 season and in each of the last nine games dating back to the 2011 season finale at Hawai’i. The last time Tulane had four turnovers in a game was against Rice on Nov. 13, 2010 (three interceptions, one fumble recovery).
__MCE_ITEM__· Senior quarterback Ryan Griffin set a Tulane single-game record with 466 yards passing. He surpassed the former mark of 447 by Patrick Ramsey against Army on Sept. 18, 1999. It was Griffin’s third-straight game with 300-plus passing yards, becoming the first Tulane quarterback to accomplish the feat since J.P. Losman surpassed the 300-yard mark in the first four games of the 2003 season.
__MCE_ITEM__· Griffin tallied a career-high five touchdown passes against the Blazers, surpassing his previous best of three on seven occasions. He fell one scoring strike shy of the Tulane single-game record of six set by Lester Ricard against UAB on Oct. 23, 2004.
__MCE_ITEM__· Griffin tied a season-high with 34 completions (on 42 attempts), which is two shy of his career high of 36 at Tulsa on Oct. 16, 2010, and at Marshall on Nov. 27, 2010.
__MCE_ITEM__· For his career, Ryan Griffin has now completed 711-of-1,181 passes (.602) for 7,700 yards and 47 touchdowns. He moved into first place in Tulane career completion percentage – ahead of Mike McKay (.599 from 1981-82) – second in pass attempts – moving ahead of Shaun King (1,163 from 1995-98) – tied for second in 300-plus yard passing games – equaling King and Lester Ricard (2004-06) –third in passing yards – moving ahead of Terrence Jones (7,684 from 1985-88) – and fifth in touchdown passes – surpassing Jones (46) – while remaining second in completions
__MCE_ITEM__· Junior running back Orleans Darkwa’s one-yard touchdown run on the first play of the fourth quarter was the first rushing score of the year for Tulane. The last time the Green Wave scored a touchdown on the ground was at Hawai’i on Nov. 26, 2011, when Darkwa and Albert Williams each scored rushing touchdowns in last season’s regular-season finale.
__MCE_ITEM__· Darkwa finished the day with a season high 74 yards and two touchdowns on 20 carries. All three marks were season-highs for Green Wave running backs.
__MCE_ITEM__· For his career, Darkwa has now run 448 times for 2,019 yards and 26 touchdowns, becoming the ninth player in Green Wave history to run for at least 2,000 yards in his career. He currently ranks fourth in Tulane history in touchdown runs – surpassing Jamaican Dartez (25 from 1995-98) – ninth in rushing yards – surpassing Toney Converse (2,014 from 1997-99), André Anderson (2009 from 2006-09) and Jerald Sowell (1,962 from 1993-96) – and 10th in rushing attempts – surpassing Anderson (444).
__MCE_ITEM__· For the second consecutive week, Tulane had a pair of receivers eclipse the 100-yard mark as junior Ryan Grant had six catches for 184 yard and sophomore Xavier Rush had eight grabs for 126 yards. Both players had a pair of touchdown grabs.
__MCE_ITEM__· Rush’ reception total was a career high, surpassing his former high-water mark of six vs. Memphis on Oct. 22, 2011, and at UTEP last weekend, while tallying his second career 100-yard game. Grant, meanwhile, posted a career-high in receiving yardage while equaling his career-best in catches.
__MCE_ITEM__· Grant extended his consecutive games with a catch streak to 16 on Saturday against the Blazers. The last time Grant – who missed the final 12 games of the 2011 season due to injury – failed to catch a pass in a game he played in came on Oct. 9, 2010, against Army.
__MCE_ITEM__· For his career, Grant has now caught 80 passes for 1,239 yards and 11 touchdowns. His 100-plus receiving effort was the fourth of the season and the sixth of his career. Grant now ranks tied for eighth in Tulane history in 100-yard receiving games and moved into a tie for 13th in touchdown receptions – sharing the distinction with Tristan Smith (2001-03), Jeff Liggon (1993-96) and Robert Griffin (1980-83).
__MCE_ITEM__· Sophomore running back Rob Kelley tallied career-high numbers with nine receptions for 66 yards. He finished the day with 125 all-purpose yards while adding 59 yards on eight rushing attempts.
__MCE_ITEM__· Freshman CB Lorenzo Doss pulled down a pair of interceptions on Saturday against UAB, becoming the first Tulane player to tally a multiple-pick game since Shakiel Smith had a pair against Rice on Nov. 13, 2010.
__MCE_ITEM__· Doss interception total was two of three on the day for Tulane as sophomore DB Sam Scofield added one of his own. The last time Tulane had three interceptions in a game was last year at UAB (Sept. 17, 2011).
__MCE_ITEM__· Junior PK Cairo Santos remained perfect on the season kicking field goals with boots of 21 and 32 yards against UAB. For the season, he is now 12-for-12, including a 7-for-7 showing from 40-plus yards.
__MCE_ITEM__· Ryan Griffin’s 16-yard touchdown pass to junior WR Wilson Van Hooser with 8:00 to play in the third quarter was the first points by the Green Wave during the stanza this season.
__MCE_ITEM__· Griffin’s first-quarter touchdown pass to Rush came on the heels of an Aaron Bryant fumble recovery. It marked the first time during the 2012 season that Tulane scored a touchdown following an opponent turnover. The Green Wave have now forced 14 turnovers had have turned those into two touchdowns and four field goals.
__MCE_ITEM__· Three Tulane players extended their double-digit starting streaks on Saturday vs UAB –senior DE Austen Jacks (33), senior CB Ryan Travis (33) and senior OT Eric Jones (23).
__MCE_ITEM__· Tulane’s game captains for Saturday's contest against UAB were sophomore WR Xavier Rush representing the offense, freshman DB Darion Monroe representing the defense and junior PK Cairo Santos representing the special teams.
--get postgame quotes--
QUOTES FOLLOWING TULANE FOOTBALL’S 55-45 CONFERENCE USA WIN OVER UAB
Tulane 55, UAB 45
Tulane Game 8
New Orleans, La.
HEAD COACH CURTIS JOHNSON
“It was a great day for our quarterback. He threw for 466 [yards]: a school record. He’s putting up arena league numbers. If we had quarterback ratings, I think he’d lead the world in quarterback ratings. He was just sensational. I thought our team fought hard. Our defense would bend, but didn’t break. They created turnovers, and I thought that was a key also. Today we also ran the ball well. We’re starting to balance this thing out a little better offensively. We’re throwing it around a little bit and we did well today against a good opponent.”
On Griffin setting new school record
“I’m not really surprised that Griffin could do it. But I’m happy for him because he works so hard coming off an injury that could have sidelined him for the year; his courage to come back and throw it and control the game. He controlled the game perfectly just like we talked about. I’m just so proud of him.”
On Xavier Rush and secondary
“We kind of ran our offense. We didn’t really pinpoint anything specific. We just thought we had some players we could go to and get those guys open. I put a lot of heat on them because (Justyn) Shackleford wouldn’t be up this week and all of those guys really came through for us.”
On scoring 55 points
“Maybe I can sleep this week because last week I didn’t sleep again. It was hard sledding; it was uphill most of this year. We’re starting to relax and play better football.”
On total high scoring games
“One thing about the defense now we have a lot of guys out right now and a lot of guys who haven’t practiced all week. I’m proud to see those freshmen making plays. (Lorenzo) Doss had two interceptions, (Darion) Monroe had a bunch of tackles again, Jordan Batiste covered well. Those guys are young. Royce (LaFrance) played well, Calvin (Thomas) played well. All those young guys are getting some experience. Those guys will be here the next three years.”
On experience of Ryan Griffin
“What he is is he’s cool about everything. He knows how to work the clock, he knows what he’s doing, he communicates with us well on the sideline. You do need a guy with experience, but I also think that you need a smart guy to do it and that’s what we have. I think we have some smart guys on the team.”
On third downs
“That was another thing we wanted to challenge: the third down percentage. Just having the ball in Griffin’s hands. He understands exactly the package we were doing today. He knew what we wanted to do. When he’s playing like that you just put the ball in his hands. He’s something else on those third downs. I was proud of him for that too cause our numbers dipped form the first week.”
On one key part of game
“The one back shoulder to (Ryan) Grant was something else. Then that touchdown to (Wilson) Van Hooser was like beauty, it was just a pretty play. I just like how (Griffin) managed the game.”
On UAB’s second half comeback
“I think they have a real good team. You’re going to see that Darrin Reaves; He’s going to be playing on Sunday. They have a really good team. They score points against everybody they play. I just think their physical, they play well. They play hard. It’s just we got these turnovers and that’s the difference in the game.”
On special teams’ performance
“Our special teams have been playing well all year. Cairo (Santos) is doing well; Billy [Johnson] is doing well. Recovering kicks, finally we’re getting guys to run down. They’re playing well on special teams.”
On use of shotgun snap
“We give him three options. I don’t want to get to telling him exactly what to do all the time because he’s well enough, he’s old enough, he’s mature enough to do that. We give him these options and he’s handling those options well. You see me get mad sometimes because it wasn’t my option, it was his option. A couple of times it wasn’t my option and it scored. It just depends.”
SENIOR QUARTERBACK RYAN GRIFFIN
Overall thoughts on the win
“The D did a great job at the end getting those interceptions. Hats off to UAB for keeping it close at the end and keeping the pedal pressed down. But it was just a great job by the offense overall. 55 points is huge, no matter if it is Conference USA or not.”
On his record-setting performance
“It’s pretty good. I’ll take it, as long as we win. I was out counting defensive players at the end because I just wanted to win. This is a huge testament to the summer work, spring work, fall work, everything. The O-line, the receivers, the backs, everyone did a great job. That’s what all of it is is just all of our hard work. It feels good to have something like that and it feels even better in a win.”
On the receivers stepping up to fill in for Justyn Shackleford
“I’m not sure how many receivers caught balls, but I’m sure it was a lot. Everyone stepped up. I thought they did a great job.”
JUNIOR RUNNING BACK ORLEANS DARKWA
On getting his running game back and getting into the end zone:
“It feels great. You know, it’s been a long time. I haven’t had a rushing touchdown in 8 weeks or so. It’s great, and it’s all on the O-line. They get the credit, it is 100 percent them.”
On the running game helping the offense:
“It definitely kept us balanced. The play action helped to get the receivers open. Our balance kept them from being able to know what we were going to do.”
On Griffin setting the school record:
“We expect it. He is that type of quarterback. He was slinging it the whole game, and he deserves it.”
On picking up another win
“Obviously it’s great. Our second win this year, and we aren’t done yet. Tomorrow we are on to Rice and we have to get prepared for them.”
SENIOR LINEBACKER DARRLY FARLEY
On the overall game and win
“This is nice. We started off very fast, and coach told us that was our plan. Offense and defense, we both started quickly and put ourselves into a position to take the lead. We had a lot of fun out there.”
On the back-and-forth game
“It was kind of like a shootout. I knew if we could get a stop that they wouldn’t be able to stop our offense, so we just needed one stop. We got the ball for our offense and they were able to score.”
On the offense keeping the defense off the field
“They moved the ball well. We had two rushing touchdowns, which we haven’t had a lot of. They were able to move the ball through the air and on the ground which was really nice. I like being off the field.”
FRESHMAN CORNERBACK LORENZO DOSS
On his two interceptions
“I just thank Jordan Baptiste for the first pick, because he made a great play on the ball and when it bounced off his shoulder pads I was able to grab it. I just went with it. The second pick I just jumped the route and I was off to the races. I don’t know how they got me for stepping out of bounds.”
On the atmosphere since the offense was doing so well
“We knew we had to get a stop. If we could just get a stop our offense could score easily. Julius Warmsley and Coach Speedy (Lionel Washington) gave us a speech saying we just needed a stop. We were able to get a three-and-out.”
On the defensive backs’ mindset when the linebackers went down
“As DBs we know we have to bat the ball down and get interceptions. That’s our job. When they went down, we knew we had to pick it up even more on the back end.”
HEAD COACH GARRICK McGEE
Overall thoughts on the game
“We didn’t play well enough, we didn’t play with enough energy, we didn’t execute, and we aren’t a very well-coached team. I’m disappointed, and I apologize to all of our fans and our supporters, because we are not a very well coached football team.”
On biggest defensive problems in the game
“Not really, we just didn’t give enough effort, and we just didn’t seem like we knew what we were doing.”
On Burdette’s performance
“I mean, I don’t know, it’s hard for me to say after we just gave up 55 points to an offense that, you know, has not done very well.”
On moving Cody Payne to defensive line
“We needed help. We had some guys get injured.”
On Farmer coming back
“He was held out all week and he wasn’t able to do anything, and I guess miraculously on the day of the game, the doctors cleared him to play.”
On how well the passing game worked
“Not well enough, when you get into a game like that, you have to duel it out with the other team, you have to score more points than they do. We had breakdowns, we had 4th down miscalls, we had our center snap the ball on the wrong count on 4th and 3, and we had multiple things like that that happened out there; we had a delay of game where we were at the line of scrimmage and they [the offense] forgot what play they called, and so we just have multiple things going on that you just don’t get the win when you do certain things like that on the football field.”
On rushing game today
“We always want to run the ball, that’s how we want our offense to work so we can open up the play action, so you know, we kind of thought that he would have those opportunities; we still want to be a good running football team, we think it’s opens up our passing game.”
TIGHT END KENNARD BACKMAN
On emotions after the game
“You know, of course we lost, we have to get back in, tomorrow, and we have to get back in the weight room, get into film study, and find out how to play better.”
On what he could have done differently
“Well you know, in a game like this, you obviously want to get more stops than the other team and put more points on the board [than the other team], really we just have to focus and play better.”
On Darrin’s performance
“Darrin always runs hard, I expect this out of him, as an offensive line guy, we got some good push, and we buy well at the point, so he was able to do his thing.”
On being able to score
“I’m just doing what I’ve been coached to do, and they put me in the right spot at the right time, and I just made the plays.”
FULLBACK SAM ACCURSIO
On emotions after this tough loss
“It hurts, there’s no doubt about that. There’s nothing you can do about it now, that game’s in the past, now we’re fighting for ourselves, our teammates, and our pride.”
On being unable to keep up with Tulane
“You know, it was a battle, every game is a battle, especially when you’re in Conference, and at the end of the day we just didn’t execute enough plays to make it happen.”
CORNERBACK CORNELIUS RICHARDS
On emotions in the locker room after the loss
“We are all pretty disappointed because we know we should’ve won that game, so, that’s our biggest emotional disappointment right now.”
On Tulane being able to score a lot against the defense
“It wasn’t anything about their offense, it was just us not executing the plays, mental errors by us.”
On moving on from this game
“We just have to come back Sunday and watch the film, fix the mistakes, that’s all we can do.”
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