Tulane burns Pirates with long touchdowns
By RONNIE WOODWARD
The Daily Reflector
Saturday, November 10, 2018
NEW ORLEANS, La. — Slant passes not only doomed East Carolina’s football team for the second straight week, but one perfectly executed by Tulane on Saturday even made history for the Green Wave.
Tulane beat ECU 24-18 on Saturday at Yulman Stadium thanks to three touchdown passes that each spanned at least 73 yards.
The record-breaking one was Tulane’s first touchdown, an 86-yarder by receiver Darnell Mooney for the longest play ever recorded at Tulane’s on-campus stadium that opened Sept. 6, 2014. Mooney caught a slant and broke through a tackle attempt by safety Davondre Robinson, who earlier in the game made a crushing hit to stop a fourth-and-1 run, and raced to the end zone for a 7-3 Green Wave edge. The hosts stayed in the lead the rest of the way.
Mooney’s first TD set the tone for Justin McMillan’s 372-yard passing effort that also included a 73-yard touchdown to Terren Encalade and a second scoring pass to Mooney on another slant pattern in front of safety Daniel Charles that went 79 yards for a 21-10 lead during the third quarter.
“It was on the safeties because we should have been inside and protecting the slant,” Robinson said. “That was on us, my position group. … It is tough to watch when short (passes) go the distance.”
The long plays helped McMillan, an LSU transfer who a week ago was 4-of-11 for 61 yards in a 41-15 win at South Floirda, pass for 300 yards for the first time in his career. The win over ECU also marked the Wave’s first 300-yard passing output of the season.
Tulane is 4-2 in its last six games.
ECU will be on a five-game losing streak heading into next week’s home matchup versus lowly Connecticut.
“We battled and that’s a good Tulane football team and you can’t take anything away from them,” Pirate coach Scottie Montgomery said. “They are a really well-coached club. … Defensively, outside of a couple of big plays in the passing game, I thought we played well.”
Tulane ran 49 times for 163 yards for an average carry of 3.3 yards. The Pirates’ defense even recorded a takeaway with a fumble recovery late in the second quarter, but that was lost on a day of big plays through the air by the Green Wave during its homecoming game.
Mooney, a 5-foot-11, 175-pound junior, had six receptions for 217 yards. Encalade’s only reception was his 73-yard touchdown.
Mooney’s performance served as Tulane’s first time with a 200-yard receiver in a game since 2009.
ECU’s best receiver, Trevon Brown, also had a big game, and his 161 yards gave him 999 for the season. The Pirates have had a 1,000-yard receiver for six straight seasons, a statistic that leads the nation.
Second on the Pirates in receiving was freshman walk-on Tyler Snead, who made five catches for 124 yards.
Freshman signal-caller Holton Ahlers was 21-of-67 for 360 yards, two touchdowns and an interception. He, like others, felt the sting of Saturday’s loss that officially ended ECU’s shot at getting to six wins to make a bowl game.
“We just have to keep getting better every single day and play for the (seniors),” Ahlers said. “For some of them, this will be the last time they ever get a chance to play football. We want to give them the best last few games that they possible can have.
“I wanted to bring them a bowl so bad. I just apologized to every single senior because they deserve it more than anyone in the world.”
Contact Ronnie Woodward at firstname.lastname@example.org, 252-329-9592 and follow @RonnieW11 on Twitter.