Tigers Fall to Bulldogs in Season Opener
Sept. 4, 2010
STARKVILLE, Miss. - Despite a spirited effort in the first game under head coach Larry Porter, the Memphis Tigers fell to the Mississippi State Bulldogs 49-7 in its season opener at Davis Wade Stadium in Starkville, Miss., on Saturday night.
Memphis scored its lone touchdown with 1:39 remaining in the fourth quarter when Cannon Smith hooked up with Marcus Rucker on a 27-yard touchdown strike. The Tigers have now scored in 132 consecutive games, the second longest streak in Conference USA.
Smith, who started the game at quarterback for the Tigers, finished with 111 yards on 10-of-15 passing with one touchdown and no interceptions.
Jamon Hughes, a transfer from Mississippi State, and Marcus Ball led the way on defense for the Tigers. Hughes accounted for nine tackles, including an eight-yard sack. Ball had eight tackles, six of which were unassisted.
Memphis found itself in a hole early, as Mississippi State took a 7-0 advantage less than five minutes into the contest after Bulldog quarterback Chris Relf connected with Leon Berry for a 55-yard touchdown score.
The Bulldogs added another score on their next drive, marching 91 yards in 2:42 minutes to make it 14-0 as #17 Tyler Russell connected on a 20-yard strike with #3 Brandon Heavens for one of his two touchdown receptions.
Memphis' best first half scoring opportunity came on its second drive of the game after a Terrence Thomas interception set the Tigers up with good field position on the Bulldog half of the field.
Paulo Henriques' 49-yard kick attempt, however, missed just right, and the Tigers were unable to score for the remainder of the half.
The Bulldogs pushed their lead to 21-0 going into halftime on a 51-yard touchdown run by Vick Ballard at the 1:58 mark in the second quarter.
Ryan Williams made his collegiate debut for Memphis on the third offensive series of the game. Williams completed his first attempted pass to Tannar Rehrer for a pickup of 18 yards. He finished the game with 85 yards on 10-of-17 passing with two interceptions.
Mississippi State kept applying the pressure after halftime, as the Bulldogs marched down the field and added another seven to their lead on the opening drive of the second half.
Russell found a streaking Heavens and the duo hooked up for another score to make it 28-0.
Williams was intercepted again on the ensuing drive, allowing the Bulldogs to set up first and 10 from the Memphis' 20. Three plays later, Mississippi State punched it into the endzone, pushing its lead to 35-0.
The Bulldogs extended their lead to 42-0 when Russell found Chad Bumphis across the middle for 57-yard TD pass.
Russell and Bumphis connected again at the 11:23 mark to make it 49-0.
Tom Hornsey's 438 yards punting ranks fourth all-time in the Memphis single game record book. It is the most since James Gaither had 450 yards punting against Southern Miss in 2001. Hugh Owens owns the single game record with 492 yards punting against Texas A&M in 1979.
Junior Billy Foster logged his first 100-yard return game in his first collegiate game with the Tigers today. Foster totaled 160 yards on seven returns. Ge recorded four returns over 20 yards, including a long return of 32 yards in the first quarter.
The 160 kick return yards ranks tied for fit all-time in the Memphis single game record book. Marcus Hightower's 169 yards against Houston in 2009 is the school record.