3:30 PM ET, October 23, 2004
MERCEDES-BENZ SUPERDOME, NEW ORLEANS, LA
NEW ORLEANS (AP) -- Alabama-Birmingham's suspect defense finally caught up with it -- and against a struggling team at that.
Lester Ricard set a Tulane single-game record with six touchdown passes and also had 417 passing yards to lead the Green Wave to a 59-55 upset of UAB on Saturday.
"It's the most (touchdowns) I've ever thrown in my whole life," Ricard said. "This just feels great."
Ricard drove Tulane (2-4, 1-3 Conference USA) 78 yards for the winning score, which came on a 12-yard pass over the middle to Chris Bush with 27 seconds left. Bush got into the end zone by spinning out of a tackle after making the catch a couple yards short of the goal line.
UAB (5-2, 3-1) was able to drive to the Tulane 45 in the final seconds, but Darrell Hackney's last two passes fell incomplete as time ran out.
It was the first victory of the season against a Division I-A opponent for Tulane, whose only other triumph came against I-AA Florida A&M.
"We were very poor on defense today -- no question," said UAB defensive coordinator Wayne Bolt, whose unit came in allowing about 403 yards per game but had been compensating for it with timely sacks and turnovers. "We had a chance to close it out and we just didn't."
Hackney, who finished 23-of-38 passing for 448 yards and two touchdowns, seemed to have saved UAB's hopes for a first-ever 4-0 start in Conference USA on the Blazers' previous drive. He converted a fourth-and-13 play with a pass over the middle to Roddy White with about three minutes left. Two plays later, Hackney hit Bradly Chavez for a 29-yard gain to the Tulane 6. Then Norris Drinkard ran in his third touchdown of the day to put UAB up 55-52 with 1:43 to go.
But UAB had struggled to stop Ricard all day, and he only needed 1:13 to put Tulane back ahead on a drive that included passes of 17 yards to Damarcus Davis, 16 yards to Bush and 14 yards to Roydell Williams.
Williams finished with 11 catches for 138 yards and three touchdowns, surpassing 100 yards for a third-straight game.
His second TD was his best, as he converted a screen into a 22-yard score by faking out one tackler, spinning away from a second and carrying a third across the goal line.
Williams' final TD came on Ricard's rollout and 24-yard loft to the right corner. That gave Tulane a 52-48 lead and came one play after UAB's Reggie Lindsey -- who had 108 yards on kickoff and punt returns -- uncharacteristically mishandled a punt with a little more than five minutes left to give Tulane new life.
Bush finished with seven catches for 97 yards and two TDs, while Davis had four receptions for 86 yards and one score. Ricard is in his first year as a starter following three straight predecessors who've gone on the NFL: Shaun King, Patrick Ramsey and J.P. Losman. But none of them ever had six TD passes in a game.
"We've been spoiled with the last three quarterbacks we've had, and Lester has had a lot of undue criticism," Tulane coach Chris Scelfo said. "He's growing up each week and hopefully he'll continue."
UAB had coach declined to lay blame exclusively on defense, noting that special teams play also proved critical, not only with Lindsey's turnover but Tulane's conversion of a fake punt in the first half. That led to Williams' second touchdown.
"We lost the kicking game and had too many penalties," Brown said. "We just did things that were very uncharacteristic today."
UAB was penalized 10 times for 91 yards, Tulane eight times for 48. Tulane never turned the ball over, either.
Roddy White led all receivers with 253 yards on 10 receptions, one a 28-yard touchdown catch. Chavez had 106 yards on four catches, but dropped what seemed to be a certain touchdown pass over the middle on a third down play that led to one of UAB's two punts.
Alabama-Birmingham rushed for 201 yards. Dan Burks ran for 90 yards and a score, while Corey White ran for 63 yards and a score and Drinkard finished with 51 yards.
Tulane's lone rushing touchdown came on a 6-yard run by Forte in the fourth quarter.
The combined 114 points scored was a record for a game involving Tulane.
Team Stat Comparison
|3rd Down Conversions||5-11||8-14|
|4th Down Conversions||1-1||1-1|
|TD||11:04||NORRIS DRINKARD 3 YD RUN (NICK HAYES KICK)|
Drive info: 8 plays, 71 yards.
|TD||5:43||ROYDELL WILLIAMS 29 YD PASS FROM LESTER RICARD (NICK BEUCHER KICK)|
Drive info: 10 plays, 66 yards.
|TD||2:47||COREY WHITE 11 YD RUN (NICK HAYES KICK)|
Drive info: 7 plays, 62 yards.
|TD||12:39||ROYDELL WILLIAMS 22 YD PASS FROM LESTER RICARD (NICK BEUCHER KICK)|
Drive info: 13 plays, 80 yards.
|FG||9:00||NICK HAYES 27 YD FG|
Drive info: 9 plays, 81 yards.
|TD||5:38||CHRIS BUSH 34 YD PASS FROM LESTER RICARD (NICK BEUCHER KICK)|
Drive info: 8 plays, 72 yards.
|TD||3:21||NORRIS DRINKARD 34 YD RUN (NICK HAYES KICK)|
Drive info: 7 plays, 71 yards.
|TD||0:42||RODDY WHITE 28 YD PASS FROM DARRELL HACKNEY (NICK HAYES KICK)|
Drive info: 2 plays, 26 yards.
|FG||0:02||NICK BEUCHER 53 YD FG|
Drive info: 6 plays, 27 yards.
|TD||8:13||FRED SMITH 75 YD PUNT RETURN (NICK BEUCHER KICK)||31||31|
|FG||1:44||NICK HAYES 22 YD FG|
Drive info: 13 plays, 72 yards.
|TD||14:48||DAMARCUS DAVIS 14 YD PASS FROM LESTER RICARD (NICK BEUCHER KICK)|
Drive info: 5 plays, 60 yards.
|TD||11:39||NORRIS DRINKARD 3 YD PASS FROM DARRELL HACKNEY (NICK HAYES KICK)|
Drive info: 8 plays, 82 yards.
|TD||7:29||MATT FORTE 6 YD RUN (NICK BEUCHER KICK)|
Drive info: 10 plays, 94 yards.
|TD||6:20||DAN BURKS 14 YD RUN (NICK HAYES KICK)|
Drive info: 4 plays, 65 yards.
|TD||4:59||ROYDELL WILLIAMS 24 YD PASS FROM LESTER RICARD (NICK BEUCHER KICK)|
Drive info: 1 plays, 24 yards.
|TD||1:43||NORRIS DRINKARD 6 YD RUN (NICK HAYES KICK)|
Drive info: 9 plays, 67 yards.
|TD||0:27||CHRIS BUSH 12 YD PASS FROM LESTER RICARD (NICK BEUCHER KICK)|
Drive info: 8 plays, 78 yards.