UConn rains on Tulane’s homecoming parade

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UConn sophomore cornerback Jamar Summers attempts to make a break on the ball during Saturday’s game against Tulane. Earlier in the game, Summers ran back an interception for a touchdown, the Huskies only points of the game.

Will Potts, Senior Staff Reporter

In a rain-soaked matchup Saturday, Nov. 8, the Tulane Green Wave (2-7, 1-5 American Athletic Conference) faced the University of Connecticut Huskies (5-5, 3-3 AAC) at Yulman Stadium. With a homecoming crowd undeterred by the weather, the Wave hoped to restore its in-conference standing and hold onto its hopes of bowl eligibility after four straight losses. The Huskies, however, spoiled the night for Tulane, handing the Wave a 7-3 loss in the rain.

As a slow first quarter neared the 2-minute mark, redshirt Wave sophomore quarterback Tanner Lee tried a deep pass downfield. The chance backfired when UConn cornerback Jamar Summers jumped the route and returned the interception 67 yards for the score.

The defensive play was the only scoring play of the quarter and ultimately the only touchdown of the night, with UConn leading 7-0 going into the second.

Tulane found success through the air mid-way through the second quarter, moving its way steadily down the field. Sophomore kicker Andrew DiRocco capped off the 11 play, 41-yard drive with a 37-yard field goal.

The Wave would not cross the 50-yard line again after that field goal.

At the end of the half, UConn led 7-3. Despite being behind, the Wave sat ahead of its Husky opponents, albeit barely, in time of possession, 15:39 to 14:31, total yards, 99 to 90, as well as third down efficiency, 40 percent to 25 percent.

With a return to its run game, UConn gained its way to the Tulane 16-yard line late in the third quarter. In the ensuing 34-yard field goal attempt, Tulane’s redshirt sophomore cornerback Perry Nickerson spoiled the Huskies’ drive, blocking redshirt junior Bobby Puyol’s kick, keeping the score idle at 7-3 with 5:49 left.

Nickerson’s field goal block was the first by a Tulane player since 2013, when senior Derrick Strozier’s blocked a kick during Tulane’s Nov. 30 matchup against Rice.

Lee finished the game 13-40 for 106 yards and a pick-6. UConn’s Bryant Shirreffs’ on-field performance didn’t prove any better, as he threw 8-19 for 81 yards. Neither quarterback found the end zone all night.

Summing up the overall offensive inefficiencies, the two sides combined for 22 punts, 14 3-and-outs, just 18 first downs and 10 total points scored, only 3 of which were offensive points.

On the other side of the ball, Tulane held UConn to 215 yards of total production. Defensively, senior safety Darion Monroe totaled 11 tackles (8 solo, 3 assists), while junior linebacker Nico Marley notched 10 (7 solo, 3 assists). As a team, the Green Wave totaled 9.0 tackles for loss, including two each from Marley and junior defensive tackle Tanzel Smart. When the Wave’s defense was on the field, the Huskies did not put up a single point. The lopsided performance between Tulane’s offense and defense was disheartening, and Lee responded as to whether he considered this his toughest loss.

“I’d say so,” Lee said. “It’s tough for the defense to play the way they did, because they didn’t deserve a loss, so it really hurts.”

The importance of the game and the excited energy surrounding it made the defeat particularly difficult for Monroe.

“It was homecoming and we wanted to put on a show for all the people here, and it was the Katrina reunion, so we wanted to get a win for all those guys,” Monroe said. “We are disappointed, but we were happy they all came out and travelled this far.”

Tulane returns to the road in the upcoming weekends, facing Army in West Point, New York, for an 11 a.m. CT game on the CBS Sports Network Nov. 14. The next week, Tulane will square off against SMU in Dallas, Texas.

Johnson’s team will return to Yulman Stadium on Friday, Nov. 27 for its regular season closer as Tulane hopes to finish the year strong with an AAC win against Tulsa.