Hawaii Bowl: D-Line proved crucial for Tulane

With age comes wisdom, and Tulane's all-senior defensive line proved to be a huge factor in the Green Wave's come-from-behind win over Hawaii Wednesday.

With age comes wisdom, and Tulane's all-senior defensive line proved to be a huge factor in the Green Wave's come-from-behind win over Hawaii Wednesday.

 Defensive line slows
Warrior offense

By Kalani Takase
Staff Writer
Thursday, Dec. 26, 2002

HALAWA -– Despite all the offense in the inaugural ConAgra Foods Hawaii Bowl, it was a stiff Tulane defensive front that ultimately sealed the fate of the Hawaii Warriors. Tulane managed eight sacks of Hawaii quarterbacks for a loss of 43 yards, the most the Warriors had given up all year.  

"The coaches had a great scheme and we just came in and executed," said defensive end Floyd Dorsey.

Green Wave defensive line coach Griff Smith will have to bid a fond farewell to this unique group. All four of his defensive line starters are seniors and will graduate in May. "It's been a long road for them since they came to Tulane," Smith said. "They're such a special group and to come here in such a special place with so many things to do and still be able to focus when it was time to play the game; I can't stay enough about them and how proud I am." 

"I don't think you can replace them in one year," Green Wave head coach Chris Scelfo said. "It's a concern of mine; you're not going to replace those guys, not with just four players."

Roxie Shelvin, Kenan Blackmon and Dorsey had two sacks apiece, while Marlon Tickles hurried Warriors quarterbacks three times and had one pass defend. Shelvin finished with five tackles, Dorsey totaled four tackles, while Blackmon added two.

Three of Shelvin's tackles went for losses, while Dorsey managed two tackles for loss, totaling a loss of 13 yards. Blackmon bettered both with two tackles for loss equaling 15 negative yards for the Warriors.

The game was all but sealed when Shelvin made the biggest play of the night as he sacked Shawn Withy-Allen near the Warrior goal line, forcing the ball out of the end zone for a safety. It was the Green Wave's first safety since Oct. 28, 2000 against Louisville 

Floyd came into the contest highly-touted and did not disappoint. The first-team All Conference USA selection, along with the other three defensive linemen, gave the Warrior offensive line all kinds of problems. "They had some great athletes and they were putting a lot of pressure on us with just their four-man rush," said Withy-Allen. "It was very difficult for myself to find a receiver."

"Floyd's a heck of a player," Smith stated. "The biggest difference between Floyd this year and last year is he's healthy. He's a very gifted pass rusher, he knows how to set up moves and I think that's what he was able to do with the young tackle (Ryan Santos) tonight."

"I just came out and played my game," said Dorsey. "I don't care about all the hype, I'm gonna play hard and keep my composure."

"We tell each other ‘let's meet at the quarterback,'" said Blackmon. "I think we did a good job getting to the quarterback tonight."

Dorsey also recovered a fumble in the win. He finished the year with 9.5 sacks, third-best in the Tulane single-season record book. Shelvin and Blackmon finished the year with seven sacks each.  

"They're (Tulane) the best pass rush team we've played. Even after big plays they didn't stop, they have a lot of heart, they kept coming and coming," said Withy-Allen. "They got to me a few times … a few too many times."

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