MIAMI – Tulane football dropped its non-conference tilt at FIU, 23-10, in front of a crowd of 16,433 Saturday evening at Riccardo Silva Stadium.
The Green Wave fell to 3-3 overall, while the Panthers improved to 4-2 on the season. Tulane totaled 239 yards of offense, including 203 rushing yards, while FIU finished with 438 yards – 220 passing and 218 rushing. Senior running back Dontrell Hilliard ran 12 times for 90 yards and a touchdown while junior quarterback Jonathan Banks tallied 59 rushing yards.
“Give them the credit. They were prepared and had a good game plan against us offensively and defensively,” Tulane head coach Willie Fritz said. “They won the ballgame. We will have to move on from this game. It is disappointing.”
The FIU offense drove to the Tulane 27-yard line on its opening possession and threw into the end zone, but senior cornerback Parry Nickerson turned in front of the receiver to pick off his 13th career interception. After the Green Wave were forced to punt, the Panthers drove 83 yards in seven plays to take a 7-0 lead on a 12-yard touchdown pass from Alex McGough to Pharaohs McKever.
The Green Wave responded on the ensuing drive with a 57-yard drive that resulted in a 35-yard field goal by Merek Glover to cut it to 7-3 with 14:08 to play in the second quarter. It was the first career field goal for the sophomore placekicker and the second of the season for the Green Wave.
FIU responded with a 15-play, 78-yard drive that ended with a 22-yard field goal to make the score 10-3 with 7:49 left in the half. That score would hold until halftime, as Tulane drove to the FIU 19-yard line but was stopped on fourth down with 0:56 on the clock. The Wave took possession when redshirt freshman cornerback Tre Jackson picked off his first career interception on a pass tipped by freshman defensive end Cameron Sample.
The Green Wave reached the end zone with 5:25 left in the third quarter when Hilliard scored on a 12-yard run to make the score 13-10. The Tulane offense took over after a 42-yard FIU field goal and traveled 75 yards in seven plays in putting together an ensemble effort drive. Senior running back Sherman Badie ran for 13 yards and a first down on two carries, sophomore running back Darius Bradwell broke a 29-yard run, freshman running back Stephon Huderson had a five-yard carry for a first down and Banks picked up a first down with an 11-yard run. On the next play, Hilliard broke a tackle and beat the defense to the corner for his eighth touchdown of the season.
After the teams traded punts, the Panthers extended their lead to 20-10 on a three-yard run by Shawndarrius Phillips with 13:07 on the fourth quarter clock. FIU kicker Jose Barrelages added a third field goal with a 39-yard kick to make the score 23-10 with 5:30 left in the game.