NEW ORLEANS (AP) - Justin McMillan connected with Jaetavian Toles for a 26-yard touchdown with 1:27 left, passed back across the field to Charles Jones for a 2-point conversion, and Tulane avoided a devastating collapse with a 29-28 victory over Navy to become bowl eligible for the first time since 2013.
The game-winning score capped a seven-play drive that covered 71 yards in 2:11 and came after Tazh Maloy's 9-yard TD run stunningly turned Navy's 21-3 halftime deficit into a late, 28-21 lead.
Tulane then stopped Navy's final possession in four plays, capped by a sack and strip of Zach Abey on fourth down, which allowed the Wave to run out the clock and storm the field for a jubilant celebration, having won four of its last five games to reach the six-win plateau, normally the benchmark for bowl bids.
McMillan figured in all four touchdowns for Tulane (6-6, 5-3, AAC). Throwing for three and rushing for one.
McMillan's first and longest scoring strike went 73 yards to Darnell Mooney, who broke behind the Navy secondary down the left sideline as McMillan hit him in stride. The second TD pass covered 52 yards on a deep crossing route to Jabril Clewis, who beat pursuing defensive backs to the right pylon to make it 21-3 late in the first half.
McMillan's touchdown rushing came on a 5-yard keeper around the left end in the second quarter, capping a drive in which McMillan also broke loose for a 28-yard run to the Navy 12.
Abey passed for a 73-yard touchdown and caught a 37-yard scoring pass for Navy (3-9, 2-6), which scored 25 straight in the second half.
Sean Williams' interception and 36-yard return to the Tulane 7 set up a short field goal to ignite Navy's second-half rally. The normally run-heavy Midshipmen, who completed just one pass in their previous two games combined, scored their first touchdown on Malcom Perry's halfback pass across the field to Abey, who was uncovered on the left side after the play initially flowed right.
After Tulane stalled again, Abey found Perry uncovered over the middle for his game-long scoring play, and Navy then converted a 2-point conversion to tie it with a pass in the back of the end zone.
Tulane responded by driving deep into Navy territory, but Merek Glover's 32-yard field goal attempt smacked off the right upright, setting up the roller-coaster of finish.
Navy: The road woes continued for the Mids, who've lost 12-straight away from Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium. Navy's last road victory was a 31-21 triumph at Tulsa on Sept. 30, 2017. But Navy had to be encouraged by newfound success in the passing game heading into its annual rivalry game with Army. Abey finished 7-of-13 for 167 yards, including a fourth-down completion that kept alive the go-ahead scoring drive in the fourth quarter. Navy also went 4-for-5 on fourth downs, the lone failure coming on its last offensive play.
Tulane: An enthusiastic crowd on senior day looked and sounded incredulous as the chances for a first bowl in half a decade appeared to slip away - all because of big passing plays allowed to a team that hardly passes and hadn't won on the road all season. But the Tulane faithful were jubilant after the Green Wave offense regrouped just in time to find the end zone and convert a courageous 2-point conversion call by third-year coach Willie Fritz that could have doomed Tulane to another season without a bowl if it had failed. The Wave defense sold out to stop the run, holding Navy to 117 yards rushing, 187 yards below its average coming in.
Navy meets arch rival Army in their traditional regular-season finale, played this season in Philadelphia on Dec. 8.
Tulane awaits its bowl bid, with the most likely invitations coming from Cheribundi Tart Cherry Bowl in Boca Raton, Florida, and the Frisco Bowl in Frisco, Texas, both of which have contractual ties to the AAC.