Tulane earns statement win over Kansas State

Mark Keplinger, Sports Editor

Tulane football earned a statement 17-10 win over the Kansas State Wildcats at Bill Snyder Family Stadium in Manhattan, Kansas on Sept. 17. Entering as 14-point underdogs, the Green Wave earned their first win over a Power 5 opponent in the Willie Fritz era and first since beating Rutgers in 2010.

Due to high winds, both teams relied on their rushing attack. The Wildcats star running back, Deuce Vaugh, who rushed for 1404 yards last season, was limited to 81 yards against a stout Green Wave defense. 

Tulane struck early when Tyjae Spears, from the Wildcat formation, punched in from a yard out. K-State tied the game late in the second quarter when quarterback Adrian Martinez threw a beautiful 21-yard touchdown pass to a well covered Kade Warner. A badly-timed interception from Green Wave quarterback Michael Pratt gave the Wildcats the ball back right before the half. The home team kicked a short field goal as time expired to give them a 10-7 halftime lead.

After stopping the Wildcats on fourth down, Tulane tied the game with a 30-yard field goal from Kriston Esnard. Both teams traded punts several times before Pratt threw his second interception of the game, although K-State immediately punted right after.

Late in the fourth quarter, Pratt stepped up in a huge way for the visitors. Starting at the Tulane 48-yard line, the quarterback scrambled for 11 yards before finding Duece Watts for a 15-yard gain. Pratt ran powerfully for a 21-yard gain setting up Tulane at the K-State five-yard line. Two plays later, Pratt found Tyrick James in the endzone to give the Green Wave a 17-10 lead with 4:27 left in the game.

The Wildcats started the subsequent drive brightly, getting to midfield within two plays. However, a combination of stout defense and horrendous offensive play calling stalled the K-State charge, and they punted with just over two minutes to play. 

Tulane began this drive at their own 15-yard line and called three run plays to burn off the remaining K-State timeouts. Spears took the handoff for the first two plays, gaining four and three yards respectively. On third and three, Pratt ran a quarterback option which gained two yards and set up fourth and a yard from their own 24-yard line.

Although conventional wisdom, and the vast majority of coaches, would have punted the ball, Fritz gambled and sent the offense back onto the field. He did so realizing that picking up the first down would effectively end the game. Tulane ran a quarterback sneak from under center, but Pratt initially dropped the ball. However, he picked the ball back up and with a great effort was able to gain two yards. 

Pratt exited the game due to a cramping issue, so backup quarterback Justin Ibieta kneeled down three times to run out the clock and win the game for the Green Wave.

Kansas State had a miserable game offensively, going 2-15 on third down and 1-5 on fourth. The sluggish offense, combined with terrible play calling, often led to Wildcats fans booing their own team off the field.

Pratt had a sluggish game, only completing half his passes and throwing more picks than touchdowns, but when his team needed him the most in the clutch, he showed up in a huge manner. Tulane will next play Saturday at 6pm at Yulman Stadium in the Battle for the Bell against Southern Mississippi. The Golden Eagles are 1-2 on the season, but won 64-10 last week against Northwestern State.

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