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Georgia Tech-Tulane: Sour Ending to a Historic Day

Yellow Jackets put damper on historic day for Green Wave football.

Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

After a 40-year wait, football returned Saturday to Uptown New Orleans as the Tulane faithful opened Yulman Stadium, a brand-new 30,000-seat stadium situated not far from where old Tulane Stadium, which stood from 1926 to 1980, was.

Hosting old SEC rival Georgia Tech, it seemed as if the Green Wave would get their first win of the season and first ever win in their new digs.

Or so they thought.

Despite a heroic effort,  the Yellow Jackets put a damper on the Yulman festivities, leaving New Orleans with a 38-21 victory over the Green Wave to drop Tulane to 0-2 on the young season.

"I would like to thank the fans for coming out on today," Tulane coach Curtis Johnson said afterwards, "This is still a very young team and we made some mental mistakes that cost us in the end. I thought that Georgia Tech executed well and had answers to everything that we did."

In the opening quarter, Eric Thomas sacked Tech's Justin Thomas to force a fumble that would be recovered by Royce LaFrance at the Yellow Jackets' 7. The Green Wave would later capitalize as Tanner Lee found Justyn Shackelford in the end zone for a 7-yard strike to give Tulane the lead. The Yellow Jackets would then get on the board as Tim Byerly tied the game at 7 with a 1-yard run.

As the first quarter wound down, Teddy Veal answered the bell as he broke off for a 24-yard run to put the Green Wave 14-7.

A missed field goal by Andrew DiRocco left the gate open for the Yellow Jackets as Lee was intercepted by Quayshawn Ealy to make the score 14-14. Lee would redeem himself as he found Xavier Rush with a deep slant that went for 61 yards, giving the Green Wave a 21-14 lead. A score by Tony Zenon would tie the game once again at 21, with Harrison Butker's 46-yard field goal making it 24-21 Georgia Tech.

As the game went on, Tulane's defense showed signs of fatigue due in part to the sweltering heat, something that the Yellow Jackets took advantage of in the second half, despite the strong play by Nico Marley, who had 11 tackles on the day.

In the third quarter, Tech's vaunted option offense began to wear down the Green Wave. Zenon's second TD of the day put Georgia Tech up 31-21. Despite an interception by Parry Nickerson, Tulane's offense couldn't get going in the second half, going three and out twice and turning over the ball once.

In the fourth quarter, Byerly once again found the Roth in the end zone for his second TD of the afternoon to make it 38-21 Yellow Jackets. He would finish the day with 10 carries for 24 yards while Zenon had eight carries for 62 yards with two scores. For Tulane, Tanner Lee went 13-24 for 173 yards and two touchdowns.

Next up for the Green Wave is the Southeastern Louisiana Lions from the Southland Conference. Game time is 7:00 p.m. Saturday at Yulman.