Game 1 – vs. Austin Peay – August 30, 2014 – Liberty Bowl Memorial Stadium – Memphis, Tenn.
Team Game Notes
Memphis’ captains for the game opener were LB Charles Harris, RB Brandon Hayes and DL Terry Redden. Austin Peay won the toss and elected to defer until the second half. Memphis defended the north goal.
Former Memphis players DeAngelo Williams (Charlotte Panthers) and Ron Leary (Dallas Cowboys) were in attendance and introduced during the game.
Memphis wore for the first time a helmet sticker featuring a pink ribbon and the numeral 20. Williams, who wore No. 20 during his career at Memphis, lost his mother Sandra Kay Hill after her extended battle with breast cancer this past May. Williams has also lost four aunts to breast cancer. The former Tiger is passionate about breast cancer awareness and The DeAngelo Williams Foundation is committed to providing free mammograms to women in Charlotte, Memphis and Wynne, Ark. Williams’ mom was the inspiration behind the NFL allowing players to wear pink cleats in 2009.
This is the first time in 10 years Memphis won a season opener and can say it is 1-0. Memphis’ last season-opening victory was a 20-13 victory over Ole Miss in Oxford in 2004. The U of M carried into the year FBS Football’s longest season-opening losing streak.
The game marked the fifth-most points in schools history. It is the most since 1969 against Louisville (69).
The shutout is the first by the Tigers since 2000 when the blanked Louisiana Monroe 28-0.
The 63 points marked the fourth-largest margin of victory.
Memphis tied a school record with seven rushing touchdowns, tying the mark set against The Citadel in 1962 and equaled against North Texas in 1971.
In one game, Memphis notched exactly half the number of rushing touchdowns it had in all of 2013 (14).
Memphis scored 21, first-quarter points. It is the first time since the UAB game in 2012 the Tigers scored 21 points in an opening quarter.
Memphis’ 42, first-half points marked the second most in a half in school history. The Tigers scored 49 points against Tulane in 1992. The 42-0, first-half lead was the largest halftime lead by a Tiger team.
The Tigers’ 188 first-half passing yards marked the first time Memphis had 175 or more passing yards in a half since the Marshall game in 2012.
Memphis had 545 yards of total offense marking the first time the Tigers had 500+ yards since a 505-yard game against Arkansas State last year. The 545 yards stands just outside the top 10 offensive performances in terms of yardage which starts at 560 yards.
Sam Craft’s two-yard touchdown run to cap the Tigers’ first drive marked the sophomore’s sixth career rushing touchdown. At that point in the game, Craft was averaging a touchdown on basically one out of every six carries (six TDs on 28 career carries).
Brandon Hayes’ three-yard touchdown run to cap Memphis’ second series marked the senior’s 12th rushing touchdown and 14th TD of his career.
Daniel Hurd’s first reception of the season went for 28 yards, setting a new career long. He had a 27-yard reception last year against Arkansas State.
Doroland Dorceus’ five-yard touchdown run with 3:43 to play in the first quarter marked the sophomore’s first career touchdown. He later added his second TD in the game on an eight-yard run in the third quarter.
With two, first-half rushing touchdowns against Austin Peay, sophomore quarterback Paxton Lynch equaled his season rushing touchdown tally from 2013.
Alan Cross finished the game with four catches for 48 yards and had a nine-yard touchdown reception.
Cross’ TD reception, established a new career record for tight ends. The touchdown was his eighth and broke the mark of seven he entered the season tied with Billy Kendall (1997-2000).
Paxton Lynch’s four touchdowns responsible ranks tied for sixth all-time. Curtis Steele, in 2009, was the last to be responsible for as many scores against Tulsa.
Memphis’ defense gave up just 146 yards – 116 rushing and 30 passing. The game marked the first time Memphis held an opponent under 200 yards since UCF in 2008 (194).
The 30 passing yards marked the first time since the 2008 season the Tigers held an opponent to fewer than 50 passing yards since the U of M held Nicholls State to 47 yards in 2008.
Bobby McCain picked off a pass, returning the ball 29 yards to halt Austin Peay’s first series of the game. McCain has now intercepted a pass in each of the Tigers’ last two season openers. He had a 75-yard interception return last year against Duke.
With the 29-yard interception return, McCain now has 216 career interception return yards which ties Charlie Babb (1969-71) for third, all-time at Memphis.
Memphis had 26 players record at least one tackle in the game.
In his first career game, defensive end Ernest Suttles recovered a fumble to set up the Tigers’ fourth touchdown of the game. Among Suttles’ three tackles in the game was the rookie’s first career quarterback sack (-14 yards).
Junior linebacker Leonard Pegues also registered his first career quarterback sack (-10 yards).
Tank Jakes led the Tigers with six tackles. He had two tackles for loss in the game (-3 yards) and now has 19 TFLs for his career.
Special Team Notes
Jake Elliott’s first time out on the field resulted in a 29-yard field goal but the play was nullified by an Austin Peay offsides penalty which resulted in a Memphis first down. The resulting penalty would set the Tigers up for their third touchdown of the game.
Joe Craig returned a third-quarter punt 53 yards, marking the longest punt return by a Tiger since Keiwone Malone against UAB in 2012. The return was Craig’s third return of 50+ yards as he had kickoff returns of 56 and 51 yards against Temple and UConn, respectively, in the final two games of 2013.
Jake Elliott’s nine PATs ties a school record. Memphis also had nine PATs against Louisville in 1969.
In his first outing as the Tigers’ punter, Spencer Smith averaged 51.0 yards on two punts.
Memphis had 112 punt return yards which ranks sixth all-time at Memphis.