NEW ORLEANS - Never mind the early alarm, the past eight months provided Tulane’s football team with more than enough rest.
Despite its season-opening kickoff being bumped up two hours because of Tropical Storm Lee, Tulane’s offense didn’t miss a beat. The Green Wave (1-0) scored 31 first-half points to spark a 47-33 victory over Southeastern Louisiana on Saturday at the Superdome.
“The way we approached (the time change) was we said it just doesn’t matter,” Green Wave coach Bob Toledo said. “We’ll go play in the street or the parking lot if we have to. Let’s just go have some fun.”
In piling up 393 yards of total offense, blocking two punts, and recording seven sacks, the Wave enjoyed most of their afternoon.
Yet, SLU (0-1) left the Wave with much to work on as the Lions’ high-tempo offense gashed Tulane for 419 total yards in 89 plays during 27 minutes of possession time.
“I come away feeling sick,” Lions coach Mike Lucas said. “Man, we scored 33 points, and whenever you lose games because of special teams plays and field position, gosh, those are things that are under our control, effort things that we just can’t let happen.”
“They say teams make the most improvements from Week 1 to Week 2,” Lucas said. “We’ve got some serious improving to do.”
Several Green Wave defenders said they were taken aback by the Lions’ pace and the volume of plays that led to missed assignments, slow reactions and general fatigue.
Tulane was able to make more impact in 27 fewer snaps because of big plays and strong execution in the red zone and kicking game.
The Green Wave got the scoring started with a 46-yard field goal from Cairo Santos after Robert Kelley, who had a school-record 213 kickoff return yards, returned the opening kickoff 66 yards.
SLU responded with a 1-yard TD run from Zeke Jones to cut the lead to 7-3.
From there, Tulane’s passing game took command, led by quarterback Ryan Griffin’s 267 yards and three touchdowns - all in the game’s first 23 minutes.
“We got big-eyed,” Lucas said. “We didn’t play great back there (in the secondary) and they took advantage of it. Their quarterback did a good job hitting some receivers that were wide open.”
Griffin hit a 55-yard swing pass for a touchdown to Wilson Van Hooser and followed with a 2-yard touchdown pass to Trent Mackey on the next drive to extend the lead to 17-7 at the end of the first quarter.
SLU capped a nine-play, 80-yard drive with a 5-yard TD run from Jones to trim the lead to 17-14, but Griffin hit a 27-yard fade to receiver Ryan Grant in the back of the end zone midway through the second quarter to take a 24-14 lead.
SLU’s Sam Fairley closed out an eight-play, 50-yard drive with a 1-yard TD run to cut the lead to 24-21, but Tulane’s Albert Williams scored from 30 yards out to cap the 31-21 first- half advantage.
The Green Wave padded the lead with a safety when SLU’s Beau Mothe had a punt blocked, and the ball rolled into the end zone.
Following the free kick, Tulane put together a six-play, 59-yard scoring drive which was capped by Orleans Darkwa’s 2-yard TD run for a 40-21 lead.
SLU came back with a 30-yard field goal from Seth Sebastian to trim the lead to 40-24 with 2:46 to play in the third quarter.
Tulane’s Derrick Strozier returned a punt 44 yards to the SLU 13 to set up Kelley’s 11-yard TD run for a 47-24 lead with 13:53 to go in the game.
Nathan Stanley helped guide SLU to a 38-yard field goal from Sebastian before Brian Young led the Lions on an 87-yard, 10-play drive, which was capped by Young’s 1-yard TD run with 6:34 to play to cap the scoring.
Nine Green Wave had receptions, while six running backs received a carry. But Toledo said he has a lot to work with while calling plays this season.
“I’m disappointed because I wanted it to be nine (receivers),” he joked after the game. “I screwed up. I didn’t call the right play.
“Yeah, that’s what we want to do. We want to get a lot of guys involved. I think, number one, we have some talented skill guys. Number two, it gives them an opportunity to play. When they get an opportunity to play, it’s great for morale. They know they are going to get in. They know they have a role. When you have a role, it keeps you involved. That’s what I try to do, particularly with the offense.”