Tulane football starts 2020 campaign with thriller in Alabama

Owen Scher, Associate Sports Editor

College sports and game-induced anxiety returned this past weekend for Green Wave supporters.

The Green Wave football team opened its 2020 campaign with an incredibly tight victory over University of South Alabama, winning 27-24 in what marks the first Tulane road-opener victory since 1998. For the majority of the game, Tulane appeared to be staring down a tough road loss.

Saturday night had all the classic markers of a trap game. South Alabama is a member of the smaller Sun Belt conference, which earlier in the night pulled off huge upsets over foes from the Big 12.

Additionally, South Alabama had already played and won a game to start their 2020 campaign. The game against Tulane served as their home and stadium opener. The newly constructed Hancock Whitney Stadium, filled to only one-fourth of capacity, was enjoying a dominant South Alabama performance.

They were dominant until the middle of the third quarter, when the Tulane offense sprung to life. After falling behind 24-6 in the third quarter, Tulane roared back. The offense scored 21 straight points while the defense, particularly the D-line, swarmed South Alabama and shut out their offense. 

The Tulane Green Wave football team won its first game of the 2020 season 27-24 against South Alabama. (Parker Waters)

The outcome hung in the balance until a key South Alabama penalty on Tulane’s punt attempt with less than two minutes to play. A Jaguar player attempted to jump over the Tulane wedge, a 15-yard infraction that gave Tulane a critical first down and allowed them to run out the clock.

Redshirt freshman Tyjae Spears seems poised for a big season after rushing for 105 yards. Other standout performances came from sophomore running back Cameron Carroll who scored two touchdowns, and senior defensive ends Patrick Johnson and Cameron Sample with two sacks apiece. 

Starting the pandemic-affected season with a victory is huge for team momentum. However, Tulane has several key issues to address moving forward. The debut of quarterback Keon Howard was inconsistent and he will have to look to improve on that performance going forward. In addition, the secondary was exposed at times by a strong South Alabama receiving corps. 

The entire team will certainly focus on getting out of the gate more quickly against Navy next week. Another slow start could spell disaster against the clock-churning option attack.

Starting the year off with a heart-pounding victory has Green Wave fans eagerly awaiting the next performance. With teams from several conferences opting out of the season, stringing some victories together this year could lead to a notable bowl bid. 

Tulane football is back in action as home favorites against Navy on Sept. 19.