Information provided by SLU Athletics
NEW ORLEANS – Tulane scored the game's first 21 points and never looked back on the way to a 35-20 victory over No. 3 Southeastern Louisiana in non-conference football action Saturday night at Yulman Stadium.
The Lions (2-1) couldn't overcome a 28-3 halftime deficit or 15 penalties for 154 yards. Tulane (1-2) picked up its first win behind three touchdown passes by freshman quarterback Tanner Lee.
The standout performer for the Lions was senior linebacker Isiah Corbett, who finished with two interceptions. Senior Tyler Stoddard led the Lions with eight tackles, as both he and senior Marice Sutton had sacks. Junior Denzel Thompson forced a fumble and junior Micah Eugene was credited with his second fumble recovery of the season.
The Lion offense was limited to 271 total yards. Senior quarterback and Walter Payton Award candidate Bryan Bennett finished 16-for-34 for 213 yards, a touchdown and two interceptions, while also rushing for his 19th career touchdown. Senior Devante Scott (five catches, 93 yards) and junior Jeff Smiley (five catches, 79 yards) were Bennett's top targets, while senior Jeremy Meyers caught his first touchdown of 2014.
Lee led a Tulane attack that finished with 360 yards, as he threw for 238 yards, three scores and two interceptions on 14-for-30 passing, connecting on scores to senior Justyn Shackleford, freshman Sherman Badie and senior Xavier Rush. Badie also led the Green Wave with 80 yards and a touchdown on 16 carries, while sophomore Lazedrick Thompson also rushed for a score.
After the teams traded punts to open the game, Tulane took the early lead. A 25-yard strike from Lee to Shackleford on third-and-15 highlighted an eight-play, 46-yard drive. Badie capped the drive with an 11-yard touchdown run to put Green Wave up, 7-0, with 4:30 left in the first quarter.
After another Lion punt, a sack by Marice Sutton and a short punt by Peter Picerelli set Southeastern up with the ball in Green Wave territory. However, the Lions were unable to take advantage and Bennett dropped a pooch punt attempt and Tulane took over in Lions territory early in the second quarter. Shackleford doubled the Green Wave lead, running down a 15-yard fade from Lee in the right corner to put Tulane up, 14-0, with 13:21 left in the second quarter.
After another Lion three-and-out, Tulane took advantage of 29 yards of Southeastern penalties on a four-play, 70-yard drive that was capped by a Thompson touchdown from a yard out, giving the Green Wave a 21-0 lead with 9:33 left in the second quarter.
Southeastern finally got on the board on the ensuing drive. An 11-play, 38-yard drive was capped by a 44-yard field goal by Ryan Adams that cut the lead to 21-3 with 4:48 left in the opening half.
The Lions squandered a tremendous scoring opportunity on the next drive, as Thompson stripped Badie and Eugene fell on the loose ball to give the Lions the ball at the Green Wave 29-yard line. However, SLU could not manage a first down and Adams left his 43-yard field goal short.
On the next possession, Tulane took the ball 10 plays for 74 yards. With just four seconds left in the half, Badie was wide open for a three-yard touchdown pass to take a 28-3 lead into the break.
Southeastern briefly moved into Tulane territory after an interception by Corbett early in the third quarter, but Bennett was intercepted by Nico Marley to end the scoring threat.
After the two teams traded punts, Tulane looked as if they would add to its lead on its next possession. However, the Lions forced a field goal attempt and a bad snap caused Andrew DiRocco to leave his 34-yard attempt well short and to the left.
The Lions finally broke through on their ensuing drive, as a 42-yard strike from Bennett to Scott highlighted an eight-play, 80-yard scoring drive. Meyers got free and caught a pass in the left corner of the end zone from seven yards out to cut the lead to 28-10 with 35 seconds left in the third quarter.
Southeastern was given great field position after Corbett picked off his second pass of the game and returned it to the Tulane 33-yard line. Southeastern could not gain any yardage, but Adams drilled a career-long 49-yard field goal to cut the lead to 28-13 with 12:29 left.
However any chance of a SLU comeback was erased two plays later. Rush broke free for a 74-yard catch and run to put the Green Wave up, 35-13, with 11:27 remaining.
Junior Xavier Roberson put Southeastern on the brink of scoring on the ensuing kickoff, as the 2013 College Football Performance Awards Kick Returner of the Year set the Lions up at the Green Wave 21-yard line with a 79-yard return. Bennett would cap the march with a quarterback sneak from a yard out to cut the Tulane lead to 35-20 with 8:43 left.
After the defense came up with a stop, the Lions drove into Tulane territory, but Sam Scofield picked off Bennett deep in Green Wave territory to end Southeastern's scoring chances.
The defense continued to hold firm and Southeastern looked to have cut the lead with just over a minute remaining, but a 70-yard Bennett to Scott touchdown was erased by an illegal block behind the play. The Lions would eventually drive all the way down to the Tulane six-yard line, but turned it over on downs short of the end zone.