Tulane football (1-2, 0-1 AAC) battled back-and-forth with Navy (2-0, 1-0 AAC) on Saturday night in Yulman Stadium, possessing a 14-13 lead to start the fourth quarter before falling by the final score of 21-14. In fact, each time the Midshipmen scored, the Green Wave immediately countered with a touchdown drive of their own. With three minutes left in the game, Navy rallied with a 10-play, 72-yard touchdown drive to regain a seven-point advantage and a lead Tulane could not come back from.
“That was a game we could have won,” Tulane head coach Willie Fritz stated. “It's disappointing. We had far too many penalties. We just weren't sound during crucial times of the ball game, and we needed to be sound. We needed to make sure that we had bodies on bodies, and guys not going the wrong way. That's how Navy wins games, just how they did it tonight. They grind it out. They've got a winning culture there, and that's what we want to have. We want to get to that sooner rather than later, so we've got to continue to build this program and win games like this."
It was a defensive battle in the opening 15 minutes as Tulane and Navy battled for field position throughout a scoreless first quarter. It marked the second game this season the Wave defense started strong, holding their opponent off the board in the opening quarter.
The Midshipmen were the first to break through, recording a 15-play, 94-yard touchdown drive, spanning 7:17. Navy’s Chris High capped the season-high 15-play drive with a 6-yard touchdown run with 14:28 on the clock.
On the ensuing Tulane drive, running back Josh Rounds caught fire, recording five carries for 52 yards on the drive, including runs of 12, 16 and 18 yards. With 10:22 remaining till half, Rounds capped the impressive eight-play, 75-yard drive with a 2-yard touchdown run.
Navy struck first in the second half, as Shawn White earned a 4-yard touchdown run which capped a nearly five minutes possession midway through the third quarter, but it failed to connect on the PAT following the score.
Tulane proved resilient once more, immediately countering with a touchdown drive of its own on the next series. The Wave offense again received a boost from Rounds when he converted a fourth-and-one on their own 44-yard line, maintaining a drive in which three plays later, Dontrell Hilliard executed a 36-yard touchdown run to hand Tulane the 14-13 lead.
Tulane’s Peter Woullard then kept the momentum in the Wave’s favor. After a 23-yard carry by the Midshipmen pushed them into Tulane territory at the 32-yard line, Woullard recovered a Will Worth fumble, giving the Green Wave the ball back with 12 minutes remaining in the game.
Forwarding ahead to 7:39 remaining, Navy took over from its own 28-yard line and rallied behind quarterback Will Worth, who carried eight times for 58 yards on the ensuing touchdown drive. After a successful two-point conversion, Navy regained the lead at 21-14 with 2:57 on the clock. On Tulane’s final offensive possession, its comeback attempt fell short, suffering a four-and-out and turnover on downs as Navy then kneeled down for the victory.
Despite the loss, it was a big day for several of Tulane’s defensive members. Nico Marley earned his first career multi-sack game, also finishing one tackle shy of his career high with 14. Jarrod Franklin also came one tackle shy of his career high with nine on the night, followed by a career high of eight tackles from Roderic Teamer. In addition, Tulane won the turnover battle as Franklin recorded his second career forced fumble, while Woullard and Ade Aruna each added a fumble recovery to their career resume.
Tulane will return to action on Saturday, Sept. 24, as it remains at home to host Louisiana Lafayette at 7 p.m.