Tulane drops season opener to Duke 37-7

Lily Siwak, Staff Reporter

It was as if history was repeating itself Thursday night as Tulane fell to Duke 37-7 in Yulman Stadium.

Last season, the Green Wave fell 47-13 to the Blue Devils. With redshirt sophomore quarterback Tanner Lee having a year of experience under his belt, however, head coach Curtis Johnson was looking for a win to open the season. But a sluggish offense and mistake-riddled special teams units hindered the Wave from finding any momentum against Duke.

It was a tale that was all too familiar.

The Wave’s offense was unable to find its footing for the majority of the game. Tulane only managed 271 total offensive yards for the night compared to Duke’s 530; the Wave didn’t convert on a third down until the second half of the game.

The Blue Devils were ahead 23-0 in the fourth quarter when Tulane finally scored. Lee threw a 77-yard pass to redshirt junior wide receiver Devon Breaux for the Green Wave’s first and only touchdown of the night.

Duke promptly answered with a 95-yard kickoff for a touchdown, making the score 30-7.

“I’m very disappointed with the outcome of the game,” Tulane head coach Curtis Johnson said. “We didn’t play very well. Offensively, we were slow starting out and we couldn’t get first downs, but I thought Tanner [Lee] settled down in the third and fourth quarters.”

Tanner Lee threw 24 of 42 for 246 yards, one touchdown, and one interception for the Green Wave.

Along with the lackluster offense that plagued Tulane last season, the troublesome special teams unit from last season made its reappearance in several plays.

In the final minutes of the first half, the unit committed an offsides penalty on a Duke punting, which allowed Duke to the ball and add a field goal just before the half finished, pushing them up 13-0 at the intermission.

In the fourth quarter, Tulane long snapper Michael Lizanich botched his snap to punter Peter Picerelli, causing the ball to just dribble a few yards before Rob Kelley jumped on the ball. Duke capitalized on that error to score again in the next 30 seconds, increasing their lead over the still scoreless Tulane to 23-0.

In the next kickoff return, Breaux kneed the ball down at the 1-yard line. Fortunately, Tulane was able to recover on that drive and go tally their only score of the night.

Tulane’s strong defense kept the team within two possessions for Tulane’s three scoreless quarters of the game. Junior linebacker Nico Marley, who is on the watch list for the Rotary Lombardi Award this year, led the defense with a career-high 15 tackles (13 solo, 2 assists) for the night. But even as Lee started to find his rhythm, the Green Wave’s offense wasn’t strong enough to come out ahead against Duke’s big defensive plays.

“I think the score tells its own story,” Marley said. “I can’t really focus on my number of tackles. I’m here for wins. I’d rather have zero tackles and a win than 20 tackles and a loss.”

After a tough loss to open the season, the Green Wave looks to move past last night’s mistakes and focus on the season ahead of them.

“We can’t let it linger,” senior safety Darion Monroe said. “It’s a long season. It’s not a sprint, it’s a marathon.”

The Green Wave will next face Georgia Tech on Sept. 12 at the Bobby Dodd Stadium in Atlanta.

Tulane vs. Duke Sept. 3