August 6, 2020

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Tulane ends Army’s 15 Home Game Winning Streak. Beats Black Knights 42-33

A noon kickoff in West Point, New York was the stage for the Tulane Green Wave, as Coach Willie Fritz’s crew faced off against Jeff Monken and the Army Black Knights. 

1st Quarter

Tulane would come out on offense first, starting the ball game with a handoff to Darius Bradwell who powered his was for 6 yards. Wave OC Will Hall came right out the gate with tempo, quickly snapping the football with QB Justin McMillan running a read option. What looked to be another positive gain turned into a disaster, as McMillan lost control of the football on the second offensive play from scrimmage, with Army recovering. A slow start for the Tulane offense, coming out a bit rusty after having 16 days off between their previous game against Houston.

Army quickly got to work on offense following the turnover, with QB Kelvin Hopkins Jr. dropping back to deliver a 36 yard strike to a wide open Knight receiver in Camden Harrison. A rarity for the Army offense, being a triple option team, perhaps a perfect play call as the Tulane defense sold out on the run. After the completion, Army would have a 1st and goal on the Tulane 3 yard line, where leading rusher Connor Slomka took it in for a Black Knight touchdown.

The Wave came out running again following the Army score, as Bradwell took two consecutive carries to pick up Tulane’s first 1st down of the game. McMillan finally stepped back to throw, and on 1st and 10 connected with the Houston game hero, wideout Jalen McCleskey for 9 yards. With 2nd and short, Bradwell took a handoff from McMillan and bruised his way up the middle on an inside zone for 18 yards and another first down. Things finally started churning for the Tulane O when speedster back Amare Jones’s number was called next, sprinting along the hashes with a jet sweep call, where he picked up 25 yards and put the Wave into the redzone. McMillan found McCleskey again, this time for a gain of 10 as the Army defense looked exhausted with the Wave’s tempo. McMillan then executed a perfect RPO, slinging a flip pass to Amare Jones and an 11 yard touchdown reception. Excellent answer for Tulane, evening the game 7-7. 

Army began their second offensive possession with two straight runs, typical of a triple option team. The Wave defense tightened, forcing Army into a 3rd and 7 scenario, where Knight’ Hopkins’s Jr. tried to test one-on-one coverage against Wave DB Larry Bryant, who provided excellent coverage by breaking up Hopkins’s pass, forcing an Army punt. 

Tulane’s Corey Dauphine received his first carry from scrimmage following the punt, picking up a modest gain of 4. Dauphine then carried again, picking up another 4 yards while putting Tulane at a manageable 3rd and 2, where McMillan found Amare Jones on a PA rollout call and another Wave first down. Bradwell then caught his reception of the game for 6 yards, but a false start on the next snap took away 5 of Bradwell’s 6 yards. On a 2nd and 9, Tulane ran the sweep again with Jones, who picked up 16 yards on the carry. Jones continued to be a threat for the Wave offense, catching a 20 yard back shoulder throw from McMillan on a critical 3rd and 8. McMillan’s pass moved Tulane into Army territory for the second drive in a row. Following Jones’s spectacular catch, Corey Dauphine turned on the jets during an inside zone, where he cut outside along the hashes for a 30 yard rushing score, giving the Wave its first lead of the day. 

Army’s Hopkins Jr. connected to Cam Harrison again, moving the ball all the way down to the Tulane 35, but on the following play the Green Wave defensive line got excellent penetration with standout defensive end Patrick Johnson accounting for a massive 13 yard tackle for loss. The Black Knights would fail to dig themselves out of a 3rd and 16, giving Tulane’s rolling offense another shot as the 1st quarter began to wind down. 

An excellent punt pinned the Wave down inside their own 10 yard line, but two huge gains on the ground moved them into comfortable field position, including a 14 yard gain by junior RB Stephon Huderson with the 1st quarter coming to a close.

2nd Quarter

McMillan began the 2nd quarter with another completion to McCleskey for 10 yards and a first down. Jones blasted off for another huge gain, but a facemask penalty against the Wave negated the explosive run that would have put Tulane across midfield. The 15 yard penalty made no difference, however, as on the next play McMillan dunked a screen to Jones, following his blockers as he weaved his way all the way down to the Army 16 on a 48 yard reception. Army was called for a PI on the very next pay, placing the ball on the 2 yard line where McMillan snuck it in to give Tulane a 21-7 lead. 

The Black Knights finally got the ball moving on offense through their run game, stringing together chunk plays on the ground, crossing their away to midfield and beyond. Army’s Sandon McCoy barreled up the middle for 12 yards as the Knights began to look unstoppable on the ground. Army continued its downfield march, reaching the redzone purely through its run-game. Army continued chipping away with its rushing attack and eventually found the endzone with a 2 yard keeper by Hopkins Jr. 

Darius Bradwell picked up 8 yards on Tulane’s ensuing offensive drive, then McMillan faked the handoff on the next play while picking up 10 yards of his own. McMillan would then be sacked following his 10 yard rush by Army’s Ryan Velez for a loss of 8. Two consecutive incompletions by McMillan brought up a 4th and 18 as Tulane would turn the ball back over to Army West Point with 2:45 left in the first half.

The Green Wave defense remained tough on Army’s last offensive possession, with the Black Knights opting to go for it on 4th and 6 with 11 seconds remaining in the half. QB Hopkins Jr. stepped back in the pocket but was immediately brought down with Patrick Johnson recording the sack and a turnover on downs.

3rd Quarter.

Army’s offense came hot out the half, with Hopkins Jr. putting on the afterburners for a 43 yard rush. A Few plays later, Hopkins Jr. found Cam Harrison again on a 14 yard reception, putting the Black Knights at the Wave 13. The ground game continued for Army inside Tulane’s 15, eventually resulting in an Army score with Hopkins Jr. sneaking his way into the endzone on a 2 yard keeper as the game was now tied at 21.

Jones kept doing what he does best in creating explosive plays, rushing for a gain of 13, then McMillan found McCleskey on the near side for another 13 yard gain. Dauhpine took off for a 10 yard gain on a 2nd and 8 as the Tulane offense continued its vicious rushing campaign on the ground. The offense continued to roll following Dauhpine’s carry, with McCleskey catching a ball from McMillan for 8 yards, then Dauphine adding 2 more on the ground for the 1st down. Once inside the Army 15, Darius Bradwell took a handoff for 13 yards and a Tulane score. Bradwell’s touchdown would be his first rushing touchdown of the season while giving the Wave a 28-21 lead.

The Wave defense did an amazing job of stopping the Army offense, but on a 4th and 5 the Black Knights faked the punt for a huge gain. Unfortunately for the Knights, a holding penalty on the fake killed an otherwise excellent call by head coach Jeff Monken.

A terrible punt by Army awarded the Wave offense great field position at the Army 45, their best starting field position on the day. Tulane struggled to convert on a 3rd and 12, but head coach Willie Fritz opted to go for it on a 4th and 5, when McMillan found Darnell Mooney for his first catch on the day and a successful 4th down conversion. Unfortunately following the conversion, Tulane would fail to convert and give the ball back over to Army, however, Army would go 3 and out and return the ball to the Wave as the 3rd quarter came to an end.

4th Quarter

On a 3rd and 7, McMillan threw dart across centerfield, finding Darnell Mooney again, this time gaining 19 yards. Following the 19 yard bullet, Jaetavian Toles caught a 16 yard reception, his first of the game. Tulane went back to the run game, with McMillan, Jones, and Huderson all putting in work to pick up a first down with the Wave threatening to score. Bradwell got his turn in the run game, picking up 7 yards and moving the line of scrimmage to the Army 5. On a 1st and goal, Amare Jones punched it in to give the Wave a 35-21 lead.

On the ensuing kickoff, Army returner Artice Hobbs IV took the ball all the way down to the Tulane 30, setting Army up with great field position and a scoring opportunity. The Wave forced Army into a 3rd and medium, but LB Lawrence Graham blew up the Army backfield for a huge tackle for loss as a 4th and 11 ensued for the Black Knights. In a questionable call, Monken opted to go for it on 4th and 11, but Tulane’s Cameron Sample swallowed up the play as Army turned it back over to Tulane.

With 8:40 to go in the game, the Green Wave looked to bleed the clock with their 2 score lead. Their high tempo offense now came down to lull, with McMillan snapping the ball with under 5 seconds on the play clock, while Dauhpine and Huderson continued laying the groundwork. Tulane moved into a more traditional triple option look, mirroring the Black Knights as they chewed clock. Seemingly out of nowhere, redshirt freshman Cameron Carroll dodged a few tackles at the line of scrimmage, then somehow found a lane, bursting for a 41 yard touchdown score. Then, on Army’s first play following the score, Tulane safety Chase Kuerschen picked off Hopkins Jr., effectively securing victory for the Wave, while Kuerschen ran over to the sideline to receive his “turnover Mardis Gras beads.” 

Army would make it an interesting end to the 4th quarter by butting up two more scores, one coming from a scoop and score by a Justin McMillan fumble. It was all for naught though, as Army simply did not have enough time to back the comeback, giving Tulane its biggest win of the season so far.