Tulane beats Army 42-33, snaps Black Knights’ home streak
WEST POINT, N.Y. (AP) — Tulane isn’t used to this but it sure feels good.
Tulane (4-1) hasn’t started this well since going 4-1 in 1998 and has been an afterthought for too long. The Green Wave received some votes in the latest AP Top 25 and can only rise after this signature moment.
“I feel like this is definitely the start to something big,” Jones said. “We’re all coming together and we’re all trying to make a change, not just for ourselves but for Tulane as a whole. We haven’t really been given the respect that we needed or that we wanted. We’re trying to prove everybody (wrong.).”
Tulane outgained Army 525-363 and outrushed the Black Knights 324-193, the fourth time this season the Green Wave have gone for 250 yards on the ground. Tulane has gone over 500 yards offensively in all but one game this season. Army’s triple option was averaging 293.5 yards.
“This is big for us. It’s hard to outrush them,” Tulane coach Willie Fritz said. “We’re excited. Our kids believe in what we’re doing.”
Darius Bradwell scored on a 13-yard run midway through the third quarter to snap a 21-all tie, Jones scored on a 1-yard run early in the fourth and Cameron Carroll tacked on a 41-yard scamper to give the Green Wave a comfortable lead. Tulane had four players with at least 55 yards on the ground.
“We know that we’re going to pound the ground,” Jones said. “When you can just rotate running backs and they all are just killing it, that makes your head coach comfortable, that he can count on you.”
Army (3-2) staged a furious late rally with two scores in the final 3 minutes, Jabari Moore’s 54-yard fumble return closing the gap to nine points with 2:36 left, but Tulane recovered an onside kick and held on. The game ended with the Black Knights trying to score again.
“It just speaks for the type of culture we have on this team,” Army quarterback Kelvin Hopkins Jr. said. “Even in the fourth quarter down 21 points, it’s easy to pack it in, look at the clock and get ready to go to the locker room, but that’s not the type of guys we have in our locker room. We’re going to fight until the end.”
Hopkins attempted 24 passes, completing nine, as Army took to the air trying to catch up.
Fritz and Army coach Jeff Monken are well-schooled in the run game. Fritz succeeded Monken at Georgia Southern when Monken took the job at West Point six years ago, and the Green Wave excelled in this one, repeatedly victimizing Army with big plays.
Tulane overcame a turnover in the first minute of play that led to an Army touchdown and reeled off six plays of least 15 yards in scoring 21 straight points, Jones notching the first on a 15-yard pass from Justin McMillan.
“They know that they can count on me to make a play,” said Jones, who also rushed for 65 yards on nine carries. “We weren’t really worried because of how their offense is set up. They kind of just want to kill the time, give you less possessions. If we would have got up early we would have been more comfortable.”
Corey Dauphine’s 30-yard run with 5 minutes left in the opening quarter gave the Green Wave a 14-7 lead and McMillan’s 1-yard run early in the second boosted the lead to 21-7 before Army settled down.
Hopkins, who missed the previous two games with a leg injury, guided the Black Knights on a 15-play drive that took 8:39 and scored on a 1-yard run with 4:36 left before halftime. He tallied again early in the third after a 43-yard run to tie it 21-all.
“They blocked us and kept us blocked,” Monken said. “They whipped blocks on defense and made tackles. That’s it. That’s what made the difference. They just out-physicaled us.
“Our guys played their butts off. They played it all the way to the end. They didn’t quit. Nobody flinched. I love that about our guys.”
Army got an early gift when McMillan simply lost the ball while running on the second play from scrimmage and Arik Smith recovered for the Black Knights at the Tulane 38. Hopkins completed a 36-yard pass to Cam Harrison on the next play and Connor Slomka scored on a 2-yard run to give Army a lead just 79 seconds into the game.
Trailing 28-21 late in third, Army executed a fake punt to perfection as linebacker Cole Christiansen scampered 31 yards for a first down at the Tulane 39. The play was nullified by a holding penalty and the Black Knights had to punt.
Tulane: The Green Wave are 4-1 for just the sixth time since 1960 and only the second time since 1980. McMillan, who was 15 of 21 for 201 yards, is 9-2 as a starter and the Green Wave’s up-tempo offense can strike in multiple ways. They should be a factor in the American Athletic Conference now that UCF has lost twice.
Army: The defense will have to regroup after its worst performance of the season. Hopkins gained 132 yards rushing and threw for 170 yards, showing no effects of the injury.
Tulane hosts Connecticut next Saturday.
Army is at Western Kentucky next Saturday night.