New Orleans — UCF jumped out to an early lead and Tulane was fighting from behind the entire game, ultimately losing 34-31.
“I wish I knew the reason we don’t start very well,” said Tulane Head Coach Willie Fritz. “We haven’t started well for a few weeks. We switched a few things around at practice and that didn’t seem to do the trick.”
The Knights led 10-0 through the first quarter and by as much as 24-7 in the third, but Tulane’s 14 points in the final 7 minutes weren’t enough to overcome the deficit. After their touchdown that made it 34-31 with :26 to play, they nearly recovered their onside kick but it was ruled UCF ball to essentially end the game.
“Just the offense as a whole, we’ve got to be better,” said Tulane wide receiver Jalen McCleskey. “We can’t get explosive plays and then always have a penalty. We’ve got to execute, do our assignments. As an offense a a whole, we’ve got to start the game better. We can’t always wait till the second half to start scoring the ball. That puts our defense in a tough situation.”
“Just us not executing,” said Tulane running back Corey Dauphine. “Just like Jalen said, we’ll have a big play and then we’ll have a holding call or a penalty. Plays like that it really hurt us because we need those yards.”
“It might look like that on the scoreboard– one play or two plays,” said Tulane safety P.J. Hall. “But it’s the whole game. It’s a sequence of plays. We’ve got to cut out the penalties. We’ve got to quit making mistakes. We’ve got to be more assignment-sound. It’s a lot of things that’s bringing us to these close games that keep us away from them in the end.”
Justin McMillan finished 13-27 for 181 yards and a touchdown. He was sacked four times but was also the Green Wave’s leading rusher, with 102 yards on 23 carries. Corey Dauphine has 58 yards on 11 carries and two touchdowns. Jalen McCleskey was Tulane’s leading receiver with 77 yards on 3 catches and a touchdown.
Tulane (6-5, 3-4 AAC) has now lost 4 of their last 5 games and will look to rebound from their second-straight loss against SMU on the road for their regular season finale Saturday, November 30.