Tulane made history in the fourth quarter Saturday when legally blind Aaron Golub snapped for an extra point during the Green Wave’s 45-31 victory over UCF.
Golub, a sophomore walk-on from Newtown, Massachusetts, became the first legally blind player to participate in an NCAA football game.
His snap was on target, and the Green Wave converted the extra point to take a 45-17 lead with 8:20 left.
“It was a great opportunity,” Golub said. “I’m happy they gave me a shot.”
Golub joined the team before last season but did not play until Saturday. He and Southern California long snapper Jake Olson, who became a member of the Trojans this year, are the only legally blind players in college football.
“The reason why I played him is he works so hard every day,” Tulane coach Curtis Johnson said. “Every morning I’m up early and he’s in the weight room and he’s working out. I’d like to play him as much as I can, because that’s what you do. You reward kids who work.”
Golub, who prefers not to talk about his sight, played down the significance of the moment.
“Mentally I was ready,” he said. “I just know that I’ve done it thousands of times, and it’s just nothing. It’s the same as in practice. I don’t consider my vision being an issue.”
Tulane senior running back Rob Kelley received a surprise gift on his 23th birthday — a start against UCF.
He made the most of it, surpassing his total of 10 carries in the first three games with 11 attempts for 35 yards. He also made his sixth career scoring reception on a 4-yard catch in the third quarter.
“It felt good,” Kelley said. “The coaches called on me, and I answered their call.”
Kelley re-joined the team after off-the-field issues sidelined him last year and spring practice in 2014 and 2015. Tulane rotates its running backs constantly, but he was fourth in the pecking order behind Sherman Badie, Dontrell Hilliard and Lazedrick Thompson.
When former Saints wide receiver Robert Meacham talked to the team this week, no one knew his most famous play would be simulated Saturday.
Meacham scored a touchdown against the Redskins in the Super Bowl season of 2009 by stripping the ball from safety Kareem Moore after a Drew Brees interception and racing 44 yards to the end zone.
Tulane cornerback Parry Nickerson chased down UCF’s Chris Johnson at the end of a 64-yard reception and stripped him. Teammate Richard Allen caught the ball in the air and returned it 36 yards to the UCF 49.
“It (Meacham’s play) was the first thing that came to my mind,” said Johnson, the wide receivers coach for the Saints in 2009. “I didn’t know if Parry could catch him, but I knew if he did he was going to strip him.”
A few seconds before he ran 24 yards with a fake punt in the first quarter walk-on running back Marshall Wadleigh had no idea what was about to happen. He missed the original signal.
“I didn’t quite figure out that we were running the fake until right before the snap,” he said. “I looked over at the personal protector, and he gave me the signal. I didn’t have time to be nervous. It was like, snap, boom.”
The snap went to Kelley, the upback, who handed off to Wadleigh.
“You’re always kind of nervous doing trick plays,” Kelley said. “Before we did that fake punt, I wanted to go for it on fourth. I was depressed, and then got happy again.”
Wadleigh said the play had been put in during preseason camp, and the Wave was waiting for the right look from UCF to run it.
Looking for a reason that reignging AAC co-champion UCF started 0-4 with home losses to Florida International and Furman after being picked to finish second in the AAC East?
Chemistry issues appear to be a factor.
When UCF right tackle Chavis Dickey moved early to draw a false start penalty in the third quarter, he immediately went up to center Jason Rae and screamed at him for not snapping the ball on time. Another lineman had to act as an intermediary, calming Dickey down.
A few plays later, defensive end Royce LaFrance beat left tackle Aaron Evans and Dickey for sacks on consecutive plays.
UCF allowed seven sacks and had five turnovers.
“We were very sloppy in missed assignments,” coach George O’Leary said. “That’s usually a good indicator of what’s going on.”
UCF true freshman Bo Schneider started at quarterback for the third consecutive game when Justin Holman (fractured right index finger) did not make the trip to New Orleans. Schneider threw three interceptions, running his season total to seven before being benched in the second half. ... Josh Rounds had a career-high 14 carries for 93 yards, including a 46-yard burst, for Tulane. Normally he is the fifth back in the rotation. ... Redshirt freshman tight end Kendall Ardoin had his first career touchdown catch in the first quarter, while Larry Dace and Andrew Hicks had their first receptions of the season for Tulane, which has only five healthy scholarship wideouts.