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Student newspaper serving Tulane University, Uptown New Orleans

The Tulane Hullabaloo

Student newspaper serving Tulane University, Uptown New Orleans

The Tulane Hullabaloo

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Pratt, defense keep Green Wave rolling past South Alabama

After a successful season that resulted in their first ever Cotton Bowl Classic victory, the Tulane University Green Wave has finally stepped back onto the gridiron. What seemed to be an emerging feud prior to the Wave’s first matchup of the season faded into the background as Tulane took University of South Alabama by storm. 

Two days before the game, USA unveiled “Home of Mardi Gras” helmets — reigniting a long-running feud between the two Gulf Coast regions. Though USA thought that the Mardi Gras rivalry would aggravate the Green Wave, coach Willie Fritz said that he “didn’t notice.” Ultimately, USA backed out and removed it from their helmets. 

The Green Wave came out, well, rolling. On the second play of the game, defensive back Lance Robinson forced a USA fumble, which defensive lineman Patrick Jenkins scooped up. Michael Pratt then found redshirt freshman wide receiver Chris Brazzell II open down the sideline for 33 yards, setting up the Wave in prime position to score. 

Two plays later, Pratt found Brazzell again in the end zone to put the Wave in the scoring column first. Later in the first quarter, Tulane put together another successful drive, but after being slowed short of the end zone, the Wave settled for a field goal by kicker Valentino Ambrosio to extend the lead to 10. 

However, USA would not go down without a fight. USA quarterback Carter Bradley responded with a long drive of his own, capped off with a touchdown as he scrambled to his right and extended the ball across the pylon for a 4-yard touchdown, cutting Tulane’s lead back to 10-7. 

Tulane quickly struck back. Pratt linked up with Jha’Quan Jackson for a long 47-yard touchdown on the ensuing drive for the Wave. After the defense forced a punt, Pratt found Lawrence Keys III for another 47-yard score — Tulane was up by 17. 

Tulane’s defense was able to stop USA’s offense, thanks to an interception by DJ Douglas;  but two plays later Pratt was hit hard, and he lost the football at his own 13-yard line. Yet again, the defense was up to the task, moving USA back 6 yards and forcing them to kick a field goal, cutting the Tulane lead to 14. 

On the first drive of the second half, Iverson Celestine was hit hard, resulting in a fumble and a USA recovery. After an 11-yard play and 53-yard touchdown drive, USA was back within striking distance. However, the Green Wave defense turned it up a notch and shut the Jaguars out for the remainder of the game. 

The Tulane offense kicked it into second gear as well, dialing up a wildcat flea-flicker, which resulted in a 48-yard touchdown from Pratt to Jackson. After that touchdown, it was a defensive brawl, with the only scoring coming from Ambrosio, tacking on another two field goals. The game ended with a 37-17 victory for the Green Wave.

Pratt ended his day with a 93.3% completion percentage — 14/15 —  for 294 yards, and four passing touchdowns, while adding 39 yards on the ground. He brought his career passing touchdown total to 72, which ties him with former first-round draft pick Patrick Ramsey for most passing touchdowns in a career. Much like the “Home of Mardi Gras” controversy, the outside noise does not phase him.

“I’m not really worried about all the external stuff … all I’m really worried about is helping the team win,” Pratt said when asked about the record.

Wide receiver Jackson ended the day with three catches for 106 yards and two touchdowns, while Keys III added four catches for 96 yards and a touchdown on a trick play. Redshirt freshman Brazzell II had a nice game as well, catching all four of his targets for 53 yards and adding a touchdown. 

The Tulane defense held USA to only 190 passing yards and 111 rushing yards. Tulane forced five turnovers, five sacks and seven tackles for loss. Corey Platt had a career high of 15 tackles, as well as a sack. Jenkins, along with Kameron Hamilton, added two sacks as well as a forced fumble and Robinson added an interception and fumble recovery. Douglas also had an interception, and both Eric Hicks Jr. and Rashad Green added a fumble recovery each.

The Green Wave had to show that they could continue last year’s momentum. The team lost significant talent on both sides of the ball to the NFL Draft, including Dorian Williams and Tyjae Spears. Many former Green Wave players were signed as Undrafted Free Agents too, like Nick Anderson and Duece Watts. Although the USA Jaguars are not in the American Athletic Conference, they still posed as a formidable opponent, winning 10 games last season as well as a bid to the R+L Carriers New Orleans Bowl, where they lost to Western Kentucky University 44-23. The last time these two teams played was in 2020, where Tulane came back from a 24-6 deficit to win 27-24. 

After a balanced effort from both the offense and defense on Saturday night in the dominant win over USA 37-17, Tulane looks ahead to a highly anticipated game versus Ole Miss next week Sept. 9 at 2:30 p.m. at Benson Field at Yulman Stadium.

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