Tulane came out starving for momentum, and the Green Wave held it early. After Syracuse deferred to the second half, Tulane worked a reverse, slip-screen and several misdirection plays on its first drive. It was capped by a 40-yard burst from standout tailback Orleans Darkwa, who seized the cutback opportunity on the over-pursued SU defense.
‘Cuse responded on its first chance, as Jeremiah Kobena returned the ensuing kick 79 yards to the Tulane 5. SU evened the score in its first offensive play from scrimmage, as Antwon Bailey dove in for a 5-yard score less than four minutes into the game.
The Green Wave continued to pace the game with more down-the-field attempts and even a fourth-and-one conversion on its next drive, but Shamarko Thomas made his presence felt in his return with a big hit on Justyn Shackleford to halt the effort.
After a Tulane punt, Syracuse put together a methodical and balanced drive. Nassib was able to find Alec Lemon and Nick Provo to provide 43 yards on the effort. Bailey broke several tackles on a handful of runs, but the drive stalled after a missed assignment on the offensive line led to a sack of Nassib courtesy of an untouched rusher, Matthew Bailey. Ross Krautman provided SU with its first lead of the night, 10-7, after a 29-yard field goal.
The Orange forced a three-and-out on the ensuing possession, with seconds remaining in the opening quarter.