Tulane finds first road win, overcomes Army 34-31

Maggie O'Rear, Staff Reporter

Tulane football (3-7, 1-5 American Athletic Conference) narrowly pulled off a 34-31 win against their final non-conference opponent, Army (2-8), Saturday at Michie Stadium as sophomore kicker Andrew DiRocco made a 35-yard field goal in the final two seconds of the game.

Tulane turned up the heat after Army tied it up 31-31 with 1:59 left in the game. The Green Wave gained 59 yards in nine plays getting in the perfect field position for DiRocco to end the game with a field goal and avoid overtime.

“This was a hard-fought game and Army played outstanding,” Tulane head coach Curtis Johnson said. “Our two-minute drill with the game on the line was awesome, especially because our young quarterback hadn’t done this before. I just love the way Tanner [Lee] took command of the field, he check down to the backs, threw it to the receivers, read the defense perfectly and ran the ball when he needed to. It was one of those drives that will allow him to mature more and propel him into the future.”

In the first quarter, Army was the first to score but on their second drive they were not as successful. The Black Knights attempted to score on a fake field goal from Tulane’s 10-yard line but redshirt-sophomore Jarrod Franklin pushed the receiver out of bounds in the end zone.

After avoiding a two-touchdown deficit, redshirt sophomore quarterback Tanner Lee threw a 90-yard touchdown pass to sophomore wide receiver Teddy Veal. That play marked the second longest pass in Tulane football history.

Early in the second quarter sophomore running back Dontrell Hilliard rushed for 23-yards making Lee’s 15-yard touchdown pass to redshirt freshman Kendall Ardoin possible. On Army’s next drive, junior defensive tackle Tanzel Smart forced a fumble that was recovered by redshirt sophomore cornerback Parry Nickerson who ran it 48 yards for a touchdown.

With 3:35 left in the half, redshirt-junior running back Josh Rounds scored a 25-yard rushing touchdown making it the third Green Wave unanswered touchdown and Rounds’ first career touchdown.

Errors from Tulane’s side rapidly blew the 21 point advantage, however, and Army quickly scored on their next drive and returned a blocked punt for a touchdown rounding out the half at 28-21.

After the intense first half, the third quarter proceeded slow and scoreless for both teams. After intercepting Lee’s pass at the end of the third, the Black Knights scored a 38-yard field goal making it a close 28-24 with 14:50 left in the game. DiRocco answered with a 31-yard field goal after Tulane had a nine play, 56-yard drive making it 31-24.

This was the first win on the road since defeating Houston last season and DiRocco’s first game-winner.

DiRocco has shown consistency that his game lacked last season. In 2014, DiRocco went 8 for 15 in field goals; this season, DiRocco is 7 for 7 in field goals.

Veal had his most receiving yards in a game with 123 yards on four receptions while Lee was 14-of-29 with 252 yards and two touchdowns. Smart led the defense with a career-best nine tackles (7 solo, 2 assists) with 2.0 for loss and a forced fumble.

Tulane heads to Dallas for the last away game of the season against AAC opponent SMU at 7 p.m. Saturday.