But Tulane didn’t quit, chipping away at the lead with a 75-yard touchdown drive in the second quarter and Darnell Mooney’s 48-yard touchdown catch early in the third, and eventually the Green Wave took a 31-28 lead with about six minutes left on Merek Glover’s 44-yard field goal. Houston, however, would tie the score on a field goal of its own with 21 seconds left, and overtime seemed inevitable, especially when Tulane looked poised to kneel away the final seconds of the fourth quarter.
Reader, they did not kneel away the final seconds of the fourth quarter.
Amare Jones’s 18-yard run off that kneel-down fumblerooski gave Tulane one more chance to perhaps get into field goal range with 12 seconds remaining from its 47-yard line.
Reader, they did not simply get into field goal range.
Jalen McCleskey’s 53-yard catch-and-run to the end zone, abetted by some truly dismal Houston tackling, gave Tulane an improbable 38-31 victory and its first 3-1 start since 2003 (its lone loss was a respectable 18-point defeat to No. 9 Auburn on Sept. 7).
Tulane became the first of 81 FBS teams this season to win a game after trailing by at least 21 points.
“We just wanted to get in field goal range,” Green Wave quarterback Justin McMillan told reporters after the game. “The catch would have been fine with me, but [McCleskey] just wanted to be an overachiever and take it for six. I’ll go ahead and let him go for it.”
As for the fumblerooski, Coach Willie Fritz said it was the brainchild of offensive coordinator Will Hall.
“We’ve been practicing that since the spring,” he said.
Ride that wave, Willie Fritz.
Tulane’s win spoiled a historic night for Houston quarterback D’Eriq King, who threw for 229 yards and two touchdowns and ran for 116 yards and another score, breaking Tim Tebow’s FBS record for the most consecutive games (15) with at least one passing and rushing touchdown.