Tulane tops Army 34-31 to snap five-game losing streak
WEST POINT, N.Y. (AP) Four seconds to go, Michie Stadium, game on the line.
Special teams had had a rough day, but Tulane practices pressure situations like this. Quarterback Tanner Lee - his day done after two touchdowns on 252 passing yards and an efficient two-minute drill to get this far - was too nervous to watch.
It didn't matter. The silence told the whole story.
Andrew DiRocco hit the game-winning 35-yard field goal as time expired and Tulane held off Army 34-31 to snap a five-game losing streak on Saturday.
''Our team's happy. Emotions started to get low, and it's just great to bring energy back to team,'' said DiRocco, who celebrated his father's birthday with his first game-winner at any level.
''I had faith in him,'' Lee said. ''He's been on point this year and I've been watching him in practice nail them.''
Teddy Veal had 123 receiving yards and a touchdown and Dontrell Hilliard added 91 rushing for the Green Wave (3-7, 1-5 American Athletic Conference), which notched its first road win of the season.
''For teams that hadn't won many games, it was a pretty clean, hard-fought game,'' Green Wave coach Curtis Johnson said. ''This was a classic.''
Ahmad Bradshaw threw for 121 yards and a pair of touchdowns and added 72 on the ground for the Black Knights (2-8), who lost by less than a touchdown for the sixth time and fell to 1-7 when trailing at halftime.
''What was most disappointing was to see the big plays that they hit,'' Army coach Jeff Monken said.
Down 28-7 late in the first half, Army pulled to 31-30 when Bradshaw hit Edgar Poe on third-and-goal from the 11 with 1:59 to go.
The Black Knights then successfully faked the PAT, but had the conversion called back on a penalty. Tulane was also whistled on the play - giving Army a second chance to tie it. This time, sticking with convention, Daniel Grochowski split the uprights.
That knotted the game 31, giving Tulane just enough time to set up DiRocco's kick.
''It was within reach,'' Poe said.
The Black Knights, who hadn't led since the beginning of the second quarter, got to within 28-24 10 seconds into the fourth on Grochowski's 38-yarder. DiRocco answered with a 31-yard boot of his own to make it 31-24 with 10:43 to go.
Army got on the board first on a Bradshaw three-yard TD - the first time Army scored in the opening quarter in six games.
Army missed what proved to be a key chance to tack on late in the first, opting for a fake field goal on fourth down from the 10 that ended in an incomplete pass.
''Sometimes the script dictates that you have to go for it,'' Monken said.
Tulane took advantage when Lee - facing 3rd-and-10 from the 10 - connected with Veal deep who then outran two pursuers for a 90-yard touchdown pass.
Soon after, a high snap ruined an Army punt and gave Tulane its best field position of the day at the 41. The Green Wave made the most of it, as Lee found 6-foot-5 tight end Kendall Ardoin, who barreled into the end zone to make it 14-7.
What happened next was the wildest play in the game.
Bradshaw pitched badly to Christian Drake and Tulane's Sean Wilson couldn't corral the fumble, but the ball squirted out to Parry Nickerson, who scooped it up ran 48-yards for a touchdown.
Josh Rounds added a 25-yard touchdown on Tulane's next possession to make it 28-7.
Army began its long comeback on its next possession when Bradshaw found John Trainor for a 19-yard scoring strike. Then, with just 44 seconds to go in the first half, Kenneth Brinson returned Andy Davidson's blocked punt 21 yards for a TD, cutting Tulane's lead to 28-21.
Facing its third triple-option team of the season, Tulane held the nation's No. 9 rushing offense to 216 yards - but the Black Knights made up for it through the air.
''I thought our defensive front played absolutely outstanding,'' Johnson said.
Following the attacks in Paris, Army took the field carrying both American and French flags.
Tulane took a 10-9-1 lead in the all-time series.