November 21, 2019

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Tulane Dominates FIU 42-14 in Home Opener

The 2019 Tulane Green Wave season officially starts today. The Green Wave are set to kickoff at 7pm CT (ESPN3) against the FIU Panthers at home in Yulman Stadium. 

 

There is an air of rejuvenated energy on campus following the Green Wave’s successful 2018 campaign, where they posted a 7-6 (5-3 AAC) record and a Cure Bowl victory, their first bowl win since 2002 (Hawaii Bowl). Students filled the tailgating lots 3 hours prior to kickoff with the rest of the Wave faithful filtering in behind them. A kickoff edged closer, fans trickled into the stadium in droves. Yulman filled to around 16,500 capacity, including a great turnout in the Wave student section that was nearly packed to the brim. Overall, an impressive turnout considering a viewership competition was underway between the Green Wave and New Orleans Saints.

 

First Quarter

 

FIU won the opening toss and elected to defer to the second half as the game got underway. Green Wave QB Justin McMillan started the Tulane offense on the ground with his legs, rushing for a gain of 8 yards on the first play of scrimmage. After a few modest gains on the ground, and one short pass from McMillan, Senior Running Back Darius Bradwell broke away for a huge run of 25 yards, burning the outer edge of the FIU defensive line and into Panther territory. McMillan soon completed his 4th consecutive pass but came up short on a 3rd and long. The Wave was then forced to punt after initially rolling on offense, pitting the ball inside the FIU 10 yard line. 

 

FIU started offensively by attempting to run at the Tulane defense and found modest success, until FIU QB James Morgan attempted a long ball into double coverage, but was picked off by Tulane CB Thakarius Keyes.

 

Following the INT, Tulane’s offense began to roll, with McMillan completing multiple spectacular throws, inevitably leading to an 18 yard completion to a wide-open Tight End, Tyrick James, for a Tulane Touchdown. 

 

Following the Tulane touchdown, FIU tried to establish its run game, but found very little success against the stout Wave defense. Forced into a 3rd and long, Tulane Defensive End Patrick Johnson rushed the edge and sacked Panther QB James Morgan to force a 4th down punting situation. 

 

The Wave continued to rush the football with its tandem of RBs Darius Bradwell and sophomore Amare Jones, until McMillan completed yet another wide open pass to Tyrick James.

 

2nd Quarter

 

On the very first Green Wave offensive possession of the 2nd Quarter, RB Amare Jones plowed his way into the endzone for another Tulane touchdown. 

FIU continued to sputter on offense, not able to gain any ground against a Tulane defense that continuously flocked to the ball. Occasionally the Panthers would break out for modest gains on the ground, but FIU’s Morgan could not get anything done through the air against the young Wave defensive backs.

 

While FIU’s offense continuously failed to produce, Tulane’s high tempo, well-balanced attack never missed a beat. As good as McMillan was through the air, he also showed great ability on the ground, making some huge plays with his feet, rushing into FIU territory, inevitably leading to a 3rd straight touchdown with a 12 yard run by sophomore back Corey Dauphine. 

 

The Panther offense finally moved the ball into Tulane territory behind a series of great throws by QB James Morgan, along with a new spark on the ground. Morgan completed a pass to TE Sterling Palmer to put the Panthers inside the Tulane 5 yard line, soon resulting in an FIU touchdown on the ground by senior RB Anthony Jones. 

 

Tulane quickly responded to the FIU touchdown with a run up the middle by Darius Bradwell for 22 yards, nearly crossing into Panther territory. However, a few plays later, Bradwell was stripped of the ball after a 7 yard gain, turning it over to the FIU defense near the Tulane 25. 

 

On the very next play, Panther QB Morgan was hit in the back for a fumble recovered by Tulane, making it 2 turnovers for the Green Wave defense. The Wave offense took advantage of the FIU mishap, with Justin McMillan taking it up the middle for 17 yards and a Green Wave touchdown to end the first half.

 

3rd Quarter

 

Florida International began the 2nd half on offense on the ground with a 12 yard carry by RB Anthony Jones. But failed to pick up another first down after Jones’s initial run, resulting in a punt and turnover on downs. 

 

McMillan continued making plays on the ground on the Wave’s first offensive possession of the second half with gains of 12 and 8 yards. McMillan then connected with wide receiver Darnell Mooney for a 42 yard touchdown circus grab. 

As impressive as McMillan and the Tulane offense moved effortlessly up the field, the defense asserted an equal level of dominance, forcing yet another FIU 3-and-out midway through the 3rd quarter. 

 

On Tulane’s second possession of the 3rd, RB Dauphine broke away for a 50 yard touchdown run on their first play, giving Dauphine over 75 yards on 3 carries with 2 touchdowns. 

 

FIU finally began to show signs of life on offense towards the end of the 3rd. QB James Morgan connected on a 3rd and long to WR Austin Maloney for 35 yards, which then set up a 17 yard, one handed grab in the endzone by Shemar Thornton to make it a 42-13 ballgame. 

 

4th Quarter

 

The rolling Wave offense slowed down a bit towards the end of the third. A bad snap by the Tulane center sent the ball over QB McMillan’s head for a loss of 10, but an intentional grounding call forced the Wave back even farther into their own territory. The turnover on downs by Tulane was futile, however, as their defense stepped up once again, forcing an FIU 3-and-out. 

 

McMillan would then be pulled and replaced by redshirt junior Keon Howard, who looked to bleed as much time from the clock as possible, allowing the Wave defense to handle the struggling Panther O as the 4th Quarter began winding down. 

 

Although Tulane had full control of the game, the Wave never let up on their uptempo offense as the second team offense began getting their first valuable reps from scrimmage.  

 

FIU remained unproductive as the 4th Quarter came to a close, largely in part to the absolutely dominate Green Wave defense. Tulane’s defense accounted for 2 turnovers (INT,FUM) and held the FIU offense to 59 on the ground, 208 through the air, holding the Panthers to 267 total yards of offense.

 

Final Impressions

 

It was an overall dominating performance on both sides of the ball for the Tulane Green Wave. Offensively they bullied the FIU Panther defense into submission with a fast paced, extremely balanced attack. On the defensive side of the ball, Tulane gave up a few big plays but ultimately controlled the Panther offense, allowing only 267 yards from scrimmage. Green Wave fans should be ecstatic, as the offense seemingly turned a new leaf in productivity. If there is one negative on the night for Tulane, it came in the form of penalties. Tulane accounted for 12 penalties for 102 yards. That has to be cleaned up before heading to Auburn next weekend, but being the first game, expect head coach Willie Fritz to have that aspect of play a bit more polished before facing the tigers. 

 

Player of the game goes to QB Justin McMillan. McMillan went 14-18, 199 yards passing for 2 TDs, with 8 rushes on the ground for 68 yards rushing and 1 TD.

 

Final Statistics

 

Offense:

49-350 yards rushing

15-19 pass ATT for 195 yards

TOTAL: 68 plays for 545 yards

 

Defense

59 rushing yards against on 26 ATT

208 passing yards against on 19-34 ATT

1 INT

1 FUM