Early TD Tulane's only score in 45-6 loss to Army
Tulane was on the scoreboard before much of the Michie Stadium crowd had even found a dry spot in the stands.
Orleans Darkwa's 3-yard touchdown run gave Tulane a 6-0 lead over Army after just 66 seconds - but that turned out to be the highlight of the game for the Green Wave.
Army quarterback Trent Steelman was 3-for-3 for 70 yards and a touchdown and ran for two more scores to lead the Black Knights in a 45-6 rout.
''They physically ran through us,'' Tulane coach Bob Toledo said. ''We didn't protect the quarterback, we couldn't get open, and we didn't run the ball well in the second half.''
Army's Raymond Maples had a career-high 141 rushing yards and a touchdown, Larry Dixon and Kelechi Odocha ran for their first-career touchdowns and the Black Knights (2-3) easily overcame the early 6-0 deficit to beat Tulane for the fourth time in five meetings.
''We preached all week that this is going to give us a chance to be in the top half of the conference,'' Toledo said. ''To lose the game and lose it the way we did, it puts a lot of pressure on us.''
Army coach Rich Ellerson had said the Black Knights would need to improve their passing - ranked last in the nation with just 38.8 yards per game - in what became a crucial matchup if Army hopes to return to a second-straight bowl game following last week's 48-21 defeat at Ball State.
As it turned out, the nation's No. 3 rushing team didn't attempt a pass until inside of five minutes to play in the first half, a five-yard completion to Maples that set up Steelman's 1-yard touchdown plunge.
That made it 21-6 at halftime, and Army was on its way to a 353-yard rushing performance.
Tulane fumbled early in the third quarter, one of four turnovers, squandering a 1st-and-goal chance. Army then got out of its own zone on Maples's 39-yard run.
Four plays later, Steelman connected for a 40-yard touchdown strike down the left sideline to Davyd Brooks, Army's longest passing play and Steelman's first touchdown pass of the season. That put the Black Knights ahead 28-6 with 9:54 to play in the third quarter. Army had 423 yards of total offense to Tulane's season-low 199.
''I felt like we could have won the game,'' Green Wave freshman linebacker Matthew Bailey said. ''We're only going to get better. It takes leadership to pick everyone up.''
Darkwa had 138 yards, 67 coming on the play before his touchdown.
But Army wasn't rattled by the early score, and Tulane didn't help itself with 10 penalties for 92 yards.
''Tulane had that one big play, but after that, we were all over them for the rest of the game,'' said Army junior linebacker Nate Combs, who had three tackles.
Green Wave quarterback Ryan Griffin was 10 for 19 for 74 yards and an interception and converted just 3 of 10 third downs.
''That was shutdown coverage,'' said Army defensive back Josh Jackson, who intercepted Griffin on a 3rd-and-24 and returned it for 36 yards, Army's first takeaway since week one. ''We pretty much had the receivers sandwiched all game. You throw it, and it's getting picked.''
The Black Knights answered the opening Tulane touchdown on the ensuing drive, relying solely on the run to march 70 yards, capped by freshman Dixon's 2-yard score. The PAT gave Army a 7-6 lead with 8:35 to play in the opening quarter.
Army's win evened the all-time series between the one-time conference rivals at 9-9-1, as Tulane fell to 2-3 for the fourth consecutive year. Army won consecutive home games for the first time since 2008 and avenged Tulane's last-second win at West Point in 2009.