SHREVEPORT, La. - Washington quarterback Chris Chandler said he knew by halftime that the Huskies' defense had Tulane beaten.
Washington opened a two-week long period of college bowl games by beating Tulane, 24-12, in the Independence Bowl Saturday night.
"Our defense can play, but they have struggled some. By halftime, it was obvious they were going to do the job," Chandler said.
Led by 12 tackles by linebacker David Rill, Washington held college football's 11th-best scoring team 20 points below its season average and refused to give up the big play.
Marc Zeno, Tulane's All-America receiver, had seven catches for 116 yards, but only one of significant distance. And Tulane couldn't capitalize on that one, a 26-yarder. It was wasted when the Green Wave fumbled two plays later.
Washington finished the season 7-4-1, the victory giving Don James a 6-3 record in postseason play during the past nine years.
For 6-6 Tulane, it was the first bowl game since 1980 and the last game at the school for Mack Brown, who is leaving to become head coach at North Carolina.
Jilted Tulane fans shouted obscenities at Brown as he left the field, the excitement of his three years of rebuilding forgotten. Greg Davis, an assistant under Bown, has been promoted to head coach.
"These have been three of the finest years of my life. I'm very proud of this team," Brown said
"I'm disappointed that we didn't win tonight. It's hard to walk away from the many relationships which I have made with this team over the past three seasons. I've grown very close to this team."
The Huskies, meanwhile, had a feeling of quiet satisfaction.
"I'm glad our defense came back," Rill said "We had been accused of not having any heart following some of our games. Tonight's game showed that our defense does have heart."
Chandler threw two touchdown passes, tying the bowl record shared by Keith Thibodeaux of Louisiana Tech (1977), Gary Kubiak of Texas A&M 11881) and Randy Wright of Wisconsin (1982).
Chandler also tied an Independence Bowl record by being intercepted three times. And Tulane’s James McKinley got into the record book by getting two of those interceptions.
Both of Chandler's touchdown passes came in the second quarter and both were 5-yard tosses, the first to tight end Bill Ames, the second to wide receiver Darryl Franklin. Tony Covington had a first-quarter touchdown for Washington on a 3-yard run, and freshman Channing Wyles kicked his first collegiate field goal early in the final quarter, a 41-yarder.
Tulane's points came on a 44-yard punt return by Mitchell Price and a 21-yard field goal by Todd Wiggins in the second quarter and an intentional safety by Washington reserve quarterback Gary Conklin with seven seconds left in the game
Tulane quarterback Terrence Jones had 339 yards of total offense, 248 passing and 91 rushing, breaking the bowl record set last year by Mississippi's Mark Young.
But, Jones was disappointed.
"I didn't think anyone could hold us without a touchdown," he said. "We wanted to win this one bad for Coach Brown."
James said he didn't expect his defense to keep Tulane out of the end zone, either.
"It's a good effort when you can bold such a high-powered offense to just a field goal," he said. "I was expecting more of a shootout"
Brown said he wasn't upset by the shouts of "traitor" and worse that accompanied his sprint from the field.
"They've been on me before," he said.
Tulane went 1-10 in Brown's first year, 4-7 last year and 6-5 this year.
"Over the past three years, the caliber of play has improved at Tulane, the academic standing has improved and Tulane's image as a whole has improved," Brown said.
Washington's Vince Weathersby powers for yardage.
|Tulane's Terrence Jones heads for the first down marker.|
|Tulane receiver, Jerome McIntosh, is smashed by the Huskies.|
UW- Covington 3 run (Brownlee kick)
TU- Mitchell Price 44 punt return (Wiggins kick)
UW- Ames 5 yard pass from Chandler (Brownlee kick)
TU - FG Wiggins 21
UW- Franklin 5 yard pass from Chandler (Brownlee kick)
UW - Wyles 41 FG
TU - Safety (Conklin kneels in end zone)
UW- Weathersby 14-84, Jenkins 11-44, Chandler 5-23, Covington 4-12
TU- Jones 18-91, Allen 4-26, Pierce 5-13, Hunter 2-5, Adams 3-13
UW- Chandler 15-30-234, Conklin 1-2-15
TU- Jones 17-40-246
UW- Weathersby 5-64, Franklin 4-61, Slater 2-59,Ames 3-35, Jenkins 1-15, Lewis 1-15
TU- Zeno 7-116, Pierce 2-58, McIntosh 3-17, Hunter 2-17, Adams 1-11, Nelson 1-17, Allen 1-18