GREENVILLE, N.C. – Junior quarterback Jonathan Banks found the end zone on a 16-yard keeper on fourth down in overtime and the defense held on with a goal line stand, as Tulane football defeated ECU, 31-24, Saturday night in front of a crowd of 36,178 at Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium.
The Green Wave (4-6, 2-4 American Athletic Conference | West) stopped a four-game slide and picked up the first road win of the season, while winning at ECU for the first time in program history.
Senior running back Dontrell Hilliard led the way with a career-high 189 yards on a career-high 28 carries, scoring two touchdowns. He hit the century mark for the fourth time this season, and the ninth time in his career. Banks tallied 96 rushing yards and two scores, including the game-winner.
Defensively, senior linebacker Rae Juan Marbley and junior linebacker Zachery Harris each recorded double-digit tackles, with 12 and 10 stops, respectively. Redshirt junior cornerback Donnie Lewis Jr. tallied a career-high six pass breakups, and redshirt senior cornerback Parry Nickerson picked off the 14th
interception of his career.
On the overtime possession, Tulane reached the ECU 16-yard line, but faced a fourth-and-1 situation. The Green Wave elected to go for it and Banks faked the handoff and raced 16 yards for the touchdown to give the Wave a 31-24 lead after the point after.
On the alternate possession, the Pirates (2-8, 1-5 American Athletic Conference | East) advanced to the Tulane three-yard line with first-and-goal, before a pair of stops by Marbley and an incomplete pass made it fourth down at the one-yard line. The defense held on, as redshirt junior defensive end Robert Kennedy was credited with the fourth-down tackle short of the goal line, giving the Green Wave the victory.
The Pirates forced overtime with a touchdown on a nine-yard pass from Gardner Minshew to Deondre Farrier. The score, which knotted the game at 24-24, left 0:36 on the clock.
Tulane led 17-14 at the half, and extended that lead to 24-14 at the end of the third quarter on a 26-yard touchdown run by Hilliard. The run came two plays after the Wave successfully ran a fake punt, when junior quarterback Glen Cuiellette faked a pooch punt on fourth-and-11, and connected with sophomore wide receiver Darnell Mooney for a first down. The 66-yard drive took 10 plays and 4:40 off the clock.
ECU pulled within 24-17 at the 12:18 mark of the fourth quarter on a 29-yard field goal by Jake Verity.
Tulane outgained ECU, 446-389 in total yardage. The Green Wave rushed for 325 yards and passed for 121, while the Pirates totaled 228 passing yards and 161 rushing yards.
Tulane took the opening kickoff and drove 75 yards in 14 plays, scoring on a two-yard run by Banks. The quarterback run came two plays after Hilliard plunged ahead for a five-yard gain on fourth-and-two at the ECU 7. It was the first opening-possession touchdown for the Green Wave since Oct. 7 against Tulsa.
The Pirates responded with a touchdown on their first possession, scoring on a two-yard run by Darius Pinnix. ECU took 12 plays to go 75 yards to tie the game, 7-7.
After trading a pair of punts Tulane and ECU once again scored back-to-back touchdowns to make it a 14-14 game. Hilliard bounced off traffic at the line of scrimmage and raced 60 yards to the end zone on the first play of the drive to give the Wave a 14-7 lead. The Pirates then tied the game on a 25-yard run by Hussein Howe with 6:13 to play in the half.
The Green Wave then elapsed 5:43 to drive 67 yards to take the lead on a 26-yard field goal by sophomore placekicker Merek Glover with 0:30 left in the half. Tulane held a 17-14 advantage at the break.