BIRMINGHAM, Ala. — Tulane quarterback Ryan Griffin tied a career high with three touchdown passes and linebacker Trent Mackey and defensive back Derrick Strozier had interception returns for scores as Tulane rolled past UAB, 49-10 in Conference USA action Saturday at Legion Field.
Tulane’s (2-1, 1-1) 39-point victory was its largest in Conference USA play.
The win was also Tulane’s most lopsided victory overall since defeating Louisiana-Monroe 52-9 in 2003.
“Today was a total team performance, and I thought our defense did a great job of getting three turnovers and two of them resulted in touchdowns,” Tulane coach Bob Toledo said in a university release. “The offense ran the ball well, we protected the quarterback and Ryan threw the ball extremely well and made some big plays. Overall, I’m very pleased with our performance today with the exception of our kickoff unit. We need to continue to work on that area.”
Tulane piled up 540 yards of total offense (262 rushing, 278 passing) and the defense held the Blazers to just 193 (48 rushing, 145 passing).
Saturday’s game marked the first time the Green Wave held an opponent to less than 200 yards of total offense since limiting ULM to 182 in 2008. UAB’s 48 rushing yards were the fewest allowed by Tulane since giving up 23 at Rice in 2007.
Tulane ran 76 plays and held the ball for 41:57 compared to the Blazers’ 45 offensive snaps and 18:03 time of possession.
Griffin completed 22-of-26 passes for 281 yards, including scoring strikes to Joe Kemp, Wilson Van Hooser and Matt Marfisi. Kemp led Tulane with six receptions, and Justyn Shackleford paced the Wave with 60 yards on a pair of catches.
Three Tulane running backs posted 60-plus yard rushing efforts as Orleans Darkwa and Albert Williams shared team-high honors with 64 yards on 20 and 11 carries, respectively.
Danté Butler had 60 yards on four carries. Darkwa added a pair of touchdown runs to his performance and caught a pair of passes for another 23 yards.
Mackey led the Green Wave defense with nine tackles (4 solo, 5 assists), while defensive end Dezman Moses and junior cornerback Ryan Travis were next with five stops each.
After taking the opening kickoff, Tulane squandered a scoring opportunity on the game’s first drive on a botched field goal attempt.
After the defense held UAB (0-2, 0-1) to a three-and-out, Darkwa capped an eight-play, 65-yard march with his first touchdown run from 4 yards out.
Nick Adams returned the ensuing kickoff 92 yards to tie the ballgame.
Tulane answered with a 10-play, 66-yard drive as Darkwa scored on a 2-yard run, and the Green Wave never trailed again.
Two UAB drives later, Mackey picked off a shovel pass by Blazers’ quarterback Bryan Ellis and returned it 39 yards to put the Wave on top 21-7.
Van Hooser capped the first-half scoring with a 17-yard touchdown pass from Griffin, and Tulane led 28-7 at the half
UAB scored on a 32-yard Ty Long field goal, but the Green Wave came back with a 10-play, 68-yard drive, which culminated with a 19-yard Griffin-to-Kemp touchdown pass.
Marfisi later scored his first collegiate touchdown on a 1-yard grab. Strozier accounted for the final score with a 55-yard interception return.