Tulane tops Army 34-31 on Andrew DiRocco’s 35-yard field goal as time expires _lowres

Tulane players celebrate after a last second field goal led them to a 34-31 win over Army in an NCAA college football game on Saturday, Nov. 14, 2015, in West Point, N.Y. (AP Photo/Mike Groll)

1. WHAT WE LEARNED

For once, Tulane overcame adversity. The Wave did just about everything wrong in the first quarter but was prepared to stop a fake flea flicker that could have given Army a 14-0 lead. From there, Tulane ran off 28 consecutive points and appeared to be in total control before blowing the entire lead to a team that has a hard time scoring quickly. No matter. Tanner Lee and Dontrell Hilliard were clutch on a nice drive that ended in a game-winning field goal as time ran out. That’s the first step forward for a team that needs to take many more before it is functional.

2. TRENDING NOW

A productive runner. Running backs were supposed to be Tulane’s strength this year, but shaky offensive line play and a constant rotation halted their effectiveness. Finally, though, Hilliard has emerged as the feature back most observers expected him to be. After getting 97 yards on 19 carries at Memphis, he had 91 yards on 14 attempts vs. Army — including one when he dragged a gaggle of defenders several yards to pick up a first down. Tulane needs to give him the ball at least 20 times next Saturday against SMU’s porous run defense.

3. FINAL THOUGHTS

Beating Army by itself is huge for the morale of the Tulane coaching staff and the players, but it does not mean much by itself. Tulane, which was penalized only twice for the second straight game, needs to remember what it did right against the Black Knights when it faces SMU and Tulsa the next two weeks. The Wave is out of the running for a bowl game, so the goal needs to be to play a complete game. That has not happened yet. Not even close.

Guerry Smith