NEW ORLEANS (AP) — Nick Montana passed for a touchdown, Tulane's defense produced three turnovers and a safety, and the Green Wave defeated Connecticut 12-3 on Saturday night.
With his Hall-of-Fame father, Joe Montana, watching from inside Tulane's new on-campus stadium, the Green Wave quarterback completed 19 of 26 passes for 135 yards in his first start this season.
Tulane (2-4, 1-1 American Athletic Conference) gained 167 yards on the ground, led by Sherman Badie's 77 yards on 14 carries.
Chandler Whitmer was 17 of 24 for 141 yards for UConn (1-5, 0-3), which lost its fourth straight, and the Huskies took an early 3-0 lead on Bobby Puyol's career-long 44-yard field goal.
Whitmer briefly was replaced in the second quarter by Tim Boyle, but he was intercepted by Lorenzo Doss.
Huskies running back Arkeel Newsome lost two fumbles, both recovered by safety Darion Monroe, who also forced one of the fumbles.
Montana was Tulane's starter a season ago as a junior, helping the Green Wave to a 7-6 record and its first bowl bid in more than a decade. Still, he was also erratic while playing with an injured throwing shoulder that season.
In August, he lost his job to redshirt freshman Tanner Lee.
Yet, while Tulane often moved the ball well with Lee under center, the inexperienced QB was also prone to drive-stalling mistakes, and then injured his shoulder at Rutgers two weekends ago. Although the Green Wave had last weekend off, Montana took first-team snaps in practice this past week and led the offense onto the field against UConn.
Montana hit his first four passes for 53 yards, including a 21-yarder over the middle, and his 7-yard scoring strike to Charles Jones to make it 7-3.
Tulane took a 9-3 lead when defensive end Tyler Gilbert surged into the backfield and cut down running back Max DeLorenzo for a safety — a play set up by Peter Picerelli's 38-yard punt to the UConn 1-yard line.
Green Wave freshman kicker Andrew DiRocco, who'd missed four of five field goal attempts entering the game, hit a career-long 38-yarder in the fourth quarter to make it 12-3. The kick came just days after former Tulane kicker Cairo Santos, a 2012 Lou Groza award winner who is now with the Kansas City Chiefs, visited during his NFL club's bye week to work with DiRocco in practice.
That field goal attempt was possible after Montana spun away from what looked like a certain third-down sack, rolled right and threw back across his body for a 10-yard, first-down completion to Justyn Shackleford.
All three of UConn's turnovers occurred in Tulane territory.
In the second quarter, Doss intercepted Boyle's third-down pass on the Tulane 38. Later in the quarter, Monroe ripped the ball away from Newsome as the pair went to the ground on the Tulane 30.
Down 7-3 in the middle of the third quarter, UConn was in field goal range after Newsome caught a 7-yard pass from Whitmer, but Newsome lost the ball again on a hit by Tanzel Smart at the Tulane 24, and Monroe recovered.
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Posted on Sat, October 11, 2014
by BRETT MARTEL, AP Sports Writer