DALLAS — In a game decided by a replay review of the final snap, Tulane fared just as poorly in that department at the start of its 41-38 loss to SMU on Saturday.
With stops difficult against the Mustangs, who average 40 points per game, the Green Wave came up with a huge one on the opening series when safety Roderic Teamer scooped up a fumble and scored on a long return.
But the touchdown, and the fumble, did not stand. The replay official ruled there was conclusive evidence running back Braeden West’s knee was down before linebacker Rae Juan Marbley stripped him.
“Just from looking at the replay, it looked like the ball was coming out before his knee hit,’” Marbley said. “It (a call like that) happens sometimes.”
Three plays later, the Mustangs scored on a 3-yard run. Instead of being ahead by a touchdown, the Green Wave trailed 7-0.
It was SMU’s seventh touchdown on an opening drive this season and the 10th time the Mustangs scored on their first possession.
Cornerback Parry Nickerson’s interception of a deep ball near the near the end of the first half was his sixth of the season and the 18th of his career.
The play moved him ahead of former teammate Lorenzo Doss into second place on the Wave’s all-time list, two behind Paul Ellis. He also rose to a tie for seventh on the single-season list.
“I had a great career at Tulane,” Nickerson said. “They set me up in the right position to make plays and gave me several opportunities. Much love to (the coaches).”
The critical face mask penalty on freshman Cameron Sample that turned a third-down sack deep in SMU territory into an eventual Mustangs touchdown in the third quarter was just bad luck, his teammates said.
Tulane would have gotten the ball back with an 8-point lead, likely in excellent field position.
“It’s just a part of football,” Teamer said. “I really don’t believe Cam purposely did that. Sometimes your hand just gets caught up and you do anything to get them on the ground.”
Tulane had two sacks that counted — its most in seven games — including the first career one by freshman Tirise Barge.
Sophomore Darius Bradwell rushed for two touchdowns for the first time, including a career-best 57-yard sprint in the second quarter, and sophomore Darnell Mooney had his first game with two scoring receptions, including a career-long 52 catch-and-run in the first quarter.
Mooney finished with a career-high 168 yards on six catches.
Bradwell, a converted quarterback, rushed for a collegiate best 80 yards on nine carries.
“He’s tough, he’s hard to bring down and he’s got good vision,” coach Willie Fritz said. “If he learns the other parts he’s going to be a dynamite back.”
Tulane’s Dontrell Hilliard 14-yard score in the third quarter was his 12th rushing touchdown of the season, tied for the third most in school history. Orleans Darkwa had 13 in 2011 and 12 in 2013. Matt Forte had 23 in 2007. ... Sophomore linebacker Lawrence Graham was in uniform but did not play a week after being taken to the hospital after being knocked unconscious against Houston. ... In a shift, sophomore Taris Shenall started at strong safety and Teamer started at free safety, moving freshman Chase Kuerschen to the bench. Shenall had five tackles. Teamer had started at strong safety in the nine games he played this year.