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Tulane wins The 87th Goodyear Cotton Bowl Classic

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Story from Tulane Athletics:

ARLINGTON – The No. 16 CFP nationally ranked Tulane football team (12-2) concluded their magical 2022-23 in the most fitting way possible with a last second 46-45 thrilling victory over No. 10 CFP nationally ranked USC (11-3) in the Cotton Bowl on Monday at AT&T Stadium.

Tulane scored the winning touchdown with just nine seconds remaining in the game as Alex Bauman caught the six-yard pass from Michael Pratt to momentarily tie the game with the extra point to come. The extra point from Valentino Ambrosio was good to give Tulane its first and what would be only lead of the game at 46-45.

Michael Pratt connected on eight of 17 passes for 234 yards and two touchdowns. He also ran 15 times for 83 yards.

Tyjae Spears led a strong rushing attack with his 17 carries for 205 yards and four touchdowns. He averaged an impressive 12.1 yards per carry. For his outstanding individual efforts he was honored as the Cotton Bowl Most Outstanding Offensive Player upon conclusion of the game.

Bauman led the Green Wave with his three catches for 46 yards including the go-ahead score in the final seconds. Duece Wattscaught two passes for 83 yards. Jha’Quan Jackson made his one catch count as he raced to the end zone from 87 yards.

Dorian Williams, in his final game in a Tulane uniform, had a career high 17 tackles. For his outstanding individual efforts he was honored as the Cotton Bowl Most Outstanding Defensive Player upon conclusion of the game.

Lummie Young IV totaled 10 tackles. Larry Brooks recorded eight tackles. Jarius Monroehad seven tackles and an interception. Patrick Jenkins picked up six tackles including two stops for loss. His tackle of the USC running back in the end zone for safety with 3:20 remaining in the game helped set the wheels in motion for the final game-winning drive that featured two fourth down conversions by the offense.

Tulane’s offense ended the contest with 539 yards (305 rushing and 234 passing). The team totaled 16 first downs. USC recorded 594 yards and 29 first downs.

In game action, the USC scored first as Caleb Williams connected with Michael Jackson III on a nine-yard pass to complete a 17 play, 75-yard drive that covered 9:02 and put the scored at 7-0 with 5:58 remaining in the opening quarter. The drive saw the Trojans go 3-for-4 on third down and also converted on fourth down.

USC made it a two-score game on their ensuing drive as Williams connected with Terrell Bynum from three-yards out to increase the deficit to 14-0 with 12:33 remaining in the second quarter.

The Green Wave answered and cut the deficit in half as Spears ran it in from three yards out to get the score to 14-7 USC with 9:30 remaining in the second quarter. Spears was able to duck under a defender on the previous ball off the ball from Pratt to gain 14 yards and put Tulane into the red zone. Also on that drive, Pratt was able to keep it for a career-high 40-yard rushing gain.

After an interception by Monroe got the ball back for Tulane, the Green Wave wasted no time tying the game as Pratt and Jha’Quan Jackson connected on an 87-yard pitch and catch at 5:42 remaining in the second quarter. It was the longest reception of his career and the longest pass in the career of Pratt.

USC went up a score on their next drive as Raleek Brown ran it in from 14-yards out to put the Trojans up 21-14 with 2:21 before the break.

The Trojans offense kept it in gear on the next drive as Williams and Brendan Rice connected on a four-yard score to again allowed USC to go up by 14, 28-14, heading into the half.

Tulane quickly made it a one score game to start the second half as a 47-yard rush by Spears followed later in the drive by his second touchdown rush of the game brought the Green Wave to within a touchdown at 28-21 with 11:55 remaining in the third.

The Green Wave kept fighting back as the team’s kicker, Ambrosio, made a 42-yard field goal to finish off a seven play, 40-yard drive with 4:02 remaining in the third quarter.

USC again extended the lead to two scores, 35-24, on Williams’ fourth touchdown pass of the game with 1:24 left in the third quarter.

Tulane quickly answered on a drive that only took 40 seconds as Spears ran it in from three-yards out. It was his third rushing touchdown of the game. He also had a 60-yard rush on the drive to go over 100 yards for his eighth straight game.

USC offense continued to be difficult to contain on the next drive as they scored on a four-yard pitch-and-catch to Kyron Hudson from Williams with 12:09 remaining in the contest to go up 42-30. It was his fifth touchdown pass of the game.

After a made field goal from USC, Tulane drew to within one score on the three-yard rush from Spears with 4:05 remaining. It was his fourth touchdown of the game.

The Tulane defense then made a huge stop as Patrick Jenkins was able to bring down the USC running back in the end zone for a safety with 3:20 remaining in the game to put the score at 45-39. That safety really ramped up the Tulane crowd in attendance and helped set the team on the path to victory

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