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Takeaways: After two weeks off, Army falls short against Tulane

Not even trick plays could save the Black Knights from losing in New Orleans.

NCAA Football: Mercer at Army Danny Wild-USA TODAY Sports

After an unexpected week off, Army’s game against the Tulane Green Wave was full of missed opportunities in the run game, failed conversions, and a not-so-tricky trick play — all leading to a 26-point loss in New Orleans on Saturday afternoon.

When the dust settled, Tulane won 38-12, handing Army its second loss of the year.

On paper, Army’s (6-2) offensive attack wasn’t totally underwhelming: 303 total yards, 270 of them rushing, 17 first downs, and just over 30 minutes of possession — hardly a recipe for disaster. But Tulane (5-4), nearly matched Army or performed better in those categories and jumped ahead in the third quarter, right when they needed to.

“They had a good plan for us and we were right there with them in the first half, I thought we had a great chance to win the game,” Army head coach Jeff Monken said. “We ran the ball very effectively in the second quarter, got the touchdown with the chance to tie it up with the two-point conversion, but unfortunately we came up short there.

“We just couldn’t get anything going offensively in the run game and that is how we win. We aren’t going to be able to chunk it, we were going to have to run the quarter like we did in the second quarter.”

The Green Wave put points on the board first with a short touchdown pass from freshman quarterback Michael Pratt to Tyrick James. The 10-play drive put up Tulane ahead for an early lead. By the end of the afternoon, the true freshman would eclipse his opponent’s passing game with 197 yards, compared with Army’s 33 yards.

Following a second, 50-yard touchdown by Tulane sophomore Amare Jones to close out the first quarter, Army appeared to get in a groove of some type.

“I thought we had a good couple weeks preparing for them, we just didn’t perform as well as we needed to today,” said Christian Anderson.

It was the first time the junior quarterback was under center since Army’s dominant win over Abilene Christian over a month ago but the time off didn’t seem to have the effect the Black Knights wanted.

After a series of incomplete passes and a fumble by Anderson, which Army recovered, the junior found freshman Tyrell Robinson for a 10-yard passing touchdown. But a blocked extra point kept the score 14-6. Robinson averaged 4.4 yards during the game and netted his second receiving touchdown this season.

The Black Knights went to halftime at Tulane’s heels thanks to a 19-yard touchdown run by Anderson, but it would be the only points the team would score for the rest of the afternoon. Even Army’s two-point conversion attempt failed.

The Green Wave completely took over during the second half.

Eating up nine plays and 75-yards, Pratt connected with Jha’Quan Jackson from 21 yards away to extend their lead. Coupled with a good field goal, Tulane was ahead 24-12 going into the last quarter.

The last moments of the game were filled with Tulane chipping away with short passes to eat up the clock. In the final five minutes of the game, they forced an Army turnover on their own 17-yard-line, but the Black Knights continued to pull out the stops.

In a final effort for it all, Army tried a trick play, with Robinson attempting a backwards pass after receiving the ball following kickoff — and it just didn’t work. While the play may have merited a slow clap for creativity, Tulane got the Pick Six thanks to wide receiver Jaetavian Toles, capping off the fourth quarter.

What might have turned the game around for the Black Knights wound up cementing their defeat. Ultimately, Army’s three turnovers hurt them mightily.

Going into this game, Army was ranked nationally at No. 25 in the Coaches Poll. They dropped out of the rankings Sunday, but still received 11 votes.

Up next, Army will host Georgia Southern at home on Saturday, Nov. 21 at 12 p.m. ET.