New Orleans-- Tulane kept their bowl hopes alive Saturday, beating Houston 20 to 17 on the Green Wave’s Senior Day. Tulane’s 12 seniors were sent-out with the 3-point victory in their final game at Yulman Stadium, thanks to a balanced offensive attack and critical defensive stops.
“I don’t know," said Tulane Head Coach Willie Fritz about where the win ranks. "It might be the best one, I guess. I don’t know. We needed a win like that. We’ve had some tough luck this season. I’m happy for the seniors, happy for all the guys. It was a hard-fought win.”
After trading field goals in the opening quarter, Tulane got into the endzone first, with a 16-yard touchdown run by Sherman Badie. The Green Wave went into the locker room with a 13-3 lead, but coming out of the break, Houston quarterback D'Eriq King led the comeback for the Cougars. He had touchdown runs of 33 and 16 yards to put the visitors up 17-13 with just under 7 minutes to play. Tulane wasted no time responding though, as Jonathan Banks hit Terren Encalade for a 64-yard touchdown play with 6:13 remaining. The defense took it from there, forcing the Cougars to turnover on downs with 2:41 to play. Tulane then got a big first down and were able to run-out the clock.
"We had a good week of preparation," Banks said. "We knew we had two more games to be bowl eligible, so we had to start it off by beating Houston."
Banks finished 17-25 for a career-high 251 yards and one interception. He also ran the ball for 68 yards on 16 carries. It was also a career day for redshirt junior wide receiver Terren Encalade, who finished with 186 yards on 8 catches-- including the game-winning 64-yard touchdown run.
“It feels good," Encalade said. "We wanted to send those guys with a win. Those seniors—they mean a lot to us. Came in and changed the program-- Coach Fritz and Coach Ruse. They helped us on offense this week. We had a great preparation, great execution. We just came out and made plays."
"Terren, you know, he's got a high motor to himself," Banks said. "He's real elusive so if you get the ball to him fast, he's able to house call like he was able to do today. He played a big factor in today's win."
Senior running back Dontrell Hilliard 's 52 rushing yards put him over the 1,000 yards this season.
Tulane (5-6, 3-4 AAC) finishes their regular season next Saturday when they travel to take-on Southern Methodist University in Dallas, Texas.