Plumlee, Knights run over Tulane football

Mark Keplinger, Sports Editor

It was a cold and frustrating day for Tulane University football when they fell 38-31 to the University of Central Florida Knights. With plenty of mistakes made and over 300 rushing yards surrendered, Tulane found itself in a deficit they could not overcome.

The game on Saturday, Nov. 12 was the first matchup between two ranked teams in the history of Yulman Stadium and the first time Tulane has hosted a ranked matchup since 1949. Despite a failed bid to get ESPN’s College Gameday to Uptown New Orleans, Yulman Stadium still posted an attendance of 27,317 fans.

UCF quickly jumped out to a 10-0 lead, thanks to two huge runs from Knights quarterback John Rhys Plumlee. His speed caused problems for the Green Wave defense all night, and even when they did manage to catch up to him, Plumlee proved to be hard to tackle. 

Tulane responded with a 69-yard rush by Tyjae Spears which culminated in Tulane quarterback Michael Pratt finding Duece Watts in the endzone on a fade route. Watts was in single coverage, but he leaped higher than his man to come down with the score. 

The Knights responded with a long drive of their own which was capped off by running back Isaiah Bowser who walked in for a touchdown from the wildcat formation to take a 17-7 lead. 

Following the touchdown, Pratt and Shaadie Clayton-Johnson fumbled the handoff, which UCF recovered. Tulane’s defense responded with a brave goal line stand and forced UCF to turnover the ball on downs. 

On their next possession, however, UCF marched down the field before Plumlee found Javon Baker in the endzone for an 8-yard score. 

Later in the quarter, Tulane took full advantage of two defensive pass interference calls to get within field goal range. Unfortunately, an unblocked defender was able to light up Pratt, forcing a fumble. Despite the Knights having several chances for a recovery, backup tight end Will Wallace recovered for the Green Wave. On the subsequent field goal attempt, UCF defenders inexplicably took an unnecessary shot at kicker Valentino Ambrosio, which gave Tulane a fresh set of downs. Tulane took full advantage, and Pratt snuck in for a touchdown.

Tulane thought they would get the ball back right before the end of the half; but, a fluke play on the subsequent punt prevented that from happening. The Knights’ punter shanked the kick, but it ended up hitting an unsuspecting Tulane player, leading to a UCF recovery. The first half ended with UCF having a 10-point lead 24-14. 

Tulane opened the second half with a punt while UCF was able to extend their lead thanks to another Plumlee rushing touchdown, this time from nine yards out. Tulane’s response looked like it could be a touchdown, but a brutal drop from Dea Dea McDougle forced the Green Wave to settle for a field goal. 

Tulane started the final quarter of the game by mounting a long drive, culminating in a 2-yard touchdown pass to Reggie Brown. However from here, UCF brilliantly ran the five minute offense which melted away the clock. Tulane had no answers for their rushing attack, and on a critical fourth and one, the Knights converted thanks to a defensive pass interference. 

UCF kept chewing through the clock until Bowser punched in from a yard out to give UCF a 38-24 lead. Pratt quickly led Tulane down the field for a final touchdown — this time to Shae Wyatt — however this was merely a consolation as there was not enough time for Tulane to mount a comeback.

Tulane will need to overcome this loss quickly as they have a short week. Tulane will host their final regular season game when the SMU Mustangs come to town on Thursday Nov. 17.

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