BIRMINGHAM, Ala. — Tulane coach Willie Fritz regretted overruling his initial decision on a fourth-down situation in the first half of a painful 31-24 loss to UAB on Saturday.
With the Green Wave trailing 14-7 and facing a fourth-and-7 at the Blazers 39, he sent the punt team on the field, then called a timeout to think about it.
He decided to go for the first down. Quarterback Jonathan Banks was sacked, the ball came loose and defensive tackle Garrett Marino rumbled for a 48-yard touchdown.
“The analytics told us to go,” Fritz said. “I went with the book. That doesn’t kill us if we hang on to the ball and they have to go 60 yards. I wish I would have gone against the book.”
That was part of a painful stretch for Tulane as it tried to tie the score in the first half. Corey Dauphine broke into open field for what appeared like it would be a 69-yard touchdown but was tackled by the ankles from behind, leading to another failed fourth-down conversion. Banks’ fumble came after Roderic Teamer blocked a punt, giving the ball to the Wave at the UAB 42.
TOUGHING IT OUT
Tulane freshman nose tackle Jeffery Johnson did not start but played regularly after missing every practice this week to rest a hamstring injury.
The Wave began with De’Andre Williams at nose tackle, flanked by Cameron Sample and Robert Kennedy. Johnson came in primarily in goal-line and short-yardage situations in the first half and ended up playing 25 to 30 snaps, in Fritz’s estimation, making two tackles.
“It wasn’t his choice (to not practice) because he wanted to be out there with his teammates,” safety Roderic Teamer said. “I’m proud of Jeffery and the way he has come on as a freshman and contributed to our defense.”
Senior tight end Charles Jones, who returned against Nicholls State after missing the opener against Wake Forest with a sprained ankle, did not travel to Birmingham.
“He is injured right now,” Fritz said. “We didn’t feel like he could play today, so we had him stay home and get some treatment.”
Kendall Ardoin started in Jones’ place, lining up as upback on the Wave’s first offensive snap. Redshirt freshman Will Wallace also played, recovering a fumble by teammate Darius Bradwell. Freshman tight end Tyrick James made a leaping 30-yard catch on the sideline in the fourth quarter.
Jones has 52 career receptions. His backups have combined for 17 catches.
Tulane linebacker Lawrence Graham and defensive tackle Alfred Thomas celebrated birthdays against UAB.
Graham, a junior, started for the second time this season and tied fellow linebacker Zach Harris with a team-high 9 tackles.
Banks’ interception in the second quarter ended a streak of 97 consecutive passes without a pick dating to the Houston game last November. … UAB improved to 8-0 at home in the past two years. … Tulane fell to 3-10 on the road under Fritz with a trip to Ohio State looming.