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Wednesday, December 1, 2021

Football

State of the AAC: Tulsa clinches spot in championship game


Senior linebacker Grant Stuard joins a teammate in bringing down a Tulane player during the 2020 opener at TDECU Stadium | Courtesy of UH athletics

Senior linebacker Grant Stuard joins a teammate in bringing down a Tulane player during the 2020 opener against an AAC foe at TDECU Stadium. | Courtesy of UH athletics

Following another week in which American Athletic Conference teams had to deal with COVID-19 cancellations, there were only two games that featured AAC teams.

With some programs reaching the finish line of their regular seasons to others just trying to get back on the football field, here is a look at how teams around the conference performed:

Tulane 35, Memphis 21

The Green Wave (6-5, 3-5 AAC) closed out a hectic regular season with a strong home win against the Tigers (6-3, 4-3) on Saturday.

The Tigers finished their road games for the season in a disappointing loss, in which the team never led. 

Senior quarterback Brady White, one of the nation’s leading passers, led the mostly stagnant Tigers’ offense with 248 yards on 38 attempts.

Throwing for two of the Tigers’ three touchdowns, White also threw two interceptions near the end of the first and second half, stalling drives that could have fueled a potential comeback.

The defense of the Green Wave proved to be too much for the Tigers, leaving the typically explosive Memphis offense scoreless in the fourth quarter. 

Freshman quarterback Michael Pratt led the passing attack for the Green Wave, throwing for two touchdowns and 254 yards on 21-33 passing. 

Senior running back Stephon Huderson created crucial opportunities for the offense on Tulane’s senior night, rushing for 67 yards on 10 attempts.

The Tigers are scheduled to close out their regular season this Saturday against Houston, who’s had three straight games canceled. It is worthy to note that Memphis is dealing with roster depth issues.

No. 24 Tulsa 19, Navy 6

Finishing up the second half of the AAC on Saturday, the Golden Hurricane (6-1, 6-0) clinched a spot in the AAC championship game with a double-digit win over the Midshipmen (3-6, 3-4).

After trailing 6-3 at halftime, the Golden Hurricane finished with 16 unanswered points to close out a defensive battle in Annapolis, Maryland.

The balanced attack from the Golden Hurricane was led by senior quarterback Zack Smith’s 168 yards passing and a touchdown. Senior running back Corey Taylor II also added 69 yards rushing. 

The offensive star of the game, however, was senior kicker Zack Long, who went 4-4 on field goals, including a 48-yarder, to open up the game.

The slow, triple-option attack of the Midshipmen was not able to provide the defense any support as it produced only 27 passing yards and 126 rushing yards for the entire game. 

The offense that was mustered came behind freshman quarterback Xavier Arline’s 60 rushing yards on 27 attempts.

The Golden Hurricane will compete in the AAC Championship on Dec. 19 against No. 7 Cincinnati, still a College Football Playoff hopeful.

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