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Danielle Maddox

In the Green Wave’s first game since senior Devon Walker suffered a spinal fracture against Tulsa on Sept. 8, Tulane’s football players took the field against Ole Miss, looking to move forward and honor their sidelined teammate. The Wave, however, looked helpless against the Rebels, falling behind 26-0 after one quarter and eventually losing 39-0 on Saturday in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome.

Tulane players wore large decals with 18, Walker’s number, on the side of their helmets. The coaching staff wore T-shirts with Walker’s number on the back and displayed Walker’s jersey on the sidelines.

“I think they wanted to win the game for him, more than anything,” Tulane head coach Curtis Johnson said. “They played football. We just have to get better with our assignments, get our linemen together and we’ve got to be sure in tackling, as well as convert some of those third downs.”

Freshman Devin Powell made the first start of his collegiate career, completing 22 of 41 passes for 145 yards and three interceptions.

“It was a tough outing for us,” Johnson said. “[Powell] played well in spots. Part of his learning curve is just being a freshman. It’s not the easiest thing in the world, but the defense played well.”

Powell began the game with a 32-yard completion to junior wide receiver Ryan Grant on the Wave’s first play from scrimmage. The Green Wave went three-and-out, and a bad snap by senior Billy Johnson on the ensuing punt attempt set Ole Miss up for its first score of the game.

Rebels running back Jeff Scott ran in a 13-yard touchdown with 12:50 remaining in the first quarter, giving Ole Miss a 6-0 after a failed two-point conversion.

“We had the fake on, and then, it was called off,” Johnson said. “I think [Billy Johnson] just snapped it too prematurely. He just kind of got a little anxious.”

During the next Ole Miss possession, the Tulane defense briefly held the offense before Ja-Mes Logan walked a reverse play into the end zone, which put Ole Miss up 12-0 after another failed two-point conversion.

Though the Rebels defense sacked Powell only three times, it forced him to scramble out of the pocket on many more plays, allowing Powell little time to find the open man.

“I don’t think we’ve gelled yet at the offensive line yet,” Johnson said. “We’re playing a variety of different plays. We’re just trying to find the best combination. Four of the guy who started had never played before. That’s no excuse, but the bottom line with those guys is that we’ve got to play better. We’ve simplified it. I think in the next couple of week’s we’ll improve.”

The Rebels capped off their first quarter scoring barrage with a quick four-play, 61-yard scoring drive that put Tulane in a 26-0 hole. The Green Wave, however, held Ole Miss scoreless in the second quarter.

The Wave went 2-for-16 on third down and only rushed for 14 yards against the Rebels.

“That was a big deal,” Johnson said. “You want to keep the chains moving, and I don’t think they did anything to inhibit us on third down. I thought it was us. I thought we had to be exact on third down.

“I think that’s one of the things with Ryan Griffin that we worked pretty decently at, just converting these third downs. As a young quarterback, they pressure you a little on third down, and those are the things they will come up big on you.”

Freshman Darion Monroe, who was moved from cornerback to safety this game, tallied 12 tackles for the Green Wave.

“I thought he was sensational,” Johnson said. “He can play anywhere. Any position we need him to play, he can play. We moved the safety out of necessity, and he came up.”

Defensive tackle Kenny Welcome also came up big when he sacked Ole Miss quarterback Bo Wallace midway through the second quarter. The Green Wave charged downfield to the 2-yard line, but the ball stayed there after Powell’s fourth-down pass landed incomplete in the end zone.

Tulane picked up another break when Ole Miss fumbled the ball near Tulane’s end zone in the third quarter, and freshman Lorenzo Doss picked it up on the Wave’s own 41-yard line.

The Wave will return to the Superdome in search of its first win against Louisiana-Monroe at 2:30 p.m. Saturday.

“All losses are painful,” Johnson said. “I think the best thing to do is look at the film, put it behind us, and we’ve got to get ready to play Louisiana-Monroe.”