Late Field Goal Lifts Middle Tennessee Over Memphis
Sept. 14, 2013
MURFREESBORO, Tenn. - The University of Memphis football team (0-2) held a 15-14 lead late in the fourth quarter but a field goal by Middle Tennessee (2-1) with 1:49 to go gave the Blue Raiders a 17-15 win Saturday night at Floyd Stadium.
After three-and-outs by both teams to begin the game, running back Brandon Hayes got the Memphis offense going with an 11-yard rush to the Memphis 32 for a Tigers first down. However, Memphis' second offensive penalty of the contest would result in the Tigers punting for the second-straight drive.
On the Blue Raiders' second drive, two 15-yard penalties by the Tigers helped Middle Tennessee reach the Memphis 35 yard line before quarterback Logan Kilgore converted a third-and-nine pass to Christian Collis to the Memphis 22.
Middle Tennessee used its running game on the next three plays to get inside the Memphis 10 before a seven-yard pass from Kilgore to Kyle Griswould put the Blue Raiders up 7-0 with 3:00 to play in the first quarter.
Memphis started its next drive in good field position after a good return by Marquis Warford and a facemask penalty by Middle Tennessee put the Tigers on their own 49-yard line.
After two incompletions by the Tigers, Warford gained 30 yards on the ground to the Middle Tennessee 21 with 2:44 to go in the opening quarter. Back-to-back rushes by quarterback Paxton Lynch moved the Tigers inside the redzone before Kenneth Gilstrap ended Memphis' drive with an interception at the two-yard line off a Lynch pass.
In the second quarter, the Blue Raiders couldn't capitalize off the Memphis turnover. The Tigers defense forced a three-and-out to help Memphis take over at the Middle Tennessee 37 with 14:53 to play in the half.
Lynch began the drive by completing a 12-yard pass to Tevin Jones before adding nine more yards on the ground to reach the Blue Raiders 11-yard line. After a first down run by Jai Steib, the Tigers would come up short of the endzone. However, Memphis would get on the board with a 21-yard field goal from Jake Elliott to cap off an eight-play 34-yard drive and make it 7-3 with 11:09 to go.
The Blue Raiders faced a third-and-long on their next drive before Kilgore found Christian Henry for 17 yards to move Middle Tennessee to their own 41-yard line with 10 minutes to play. Kilgore continued to find his receivers with a 10-yard completion to Tavarres Jefferson and a 14-yard play to Terry Pettis to reach the Memphis 18.
After Kilgore failed to convert a third-and-eight, Cody Clark's missed attempt at a 33-yard field goal would keep the score at 7-3 with 8:31 to play in the half.
Memphis' next drive wouldn't last long as T.T. Barber picked off Lynch to give the Blue Raiders the ball right back at the Memphis eight-yard line with five minutes to play. Another Memphis penalty would push the ball to the three-yard line before a pass play and two rushes punched in another touchdown for Middle Tennessee to go up 14-3 with 3:39 remaining in the half.
Penalties continued to haunt the Tigers late in the first half as an 80-yard kick return from Bobby McCain was brought back to the Memphis 10-yard line. Another three-and-out by the Tigers gave Middle Tennessee the ball back with less than two minutes left in the half. The Blue Raiders began a strong drive and reached midfield before Bakari Hollier picked off Kilgore and returned it 28 yards to Middle Tennessee's 45-yard line to give the Tigers another chance.
With just over one minute remaining in the half, the Tigers worked their way to the Middle Tennessee 24-yard line following a 12-yard pass from Lynch to Sam Craft, falling seven yards shy of a first down. Elliott would return to the field for the Tigers to make a 41-yard field goal and cut Memphis' deficit to 14-6 at the half.
The Tigers stopped Middle Tennessee's opening second half drive before taking over at their own 23-yard line. Memphis moved into Blue Raiders territory after an 18-yard pass from Lynch to Joe Craig to reach the 38-yard line. Lynch followed with a 10-yard completion to Jones before rushing five yards to the Middle Tennessee 22. The Tigers went to the ground game on the ensuing plays with Steib getting a first down for the Tigers at the seven. Steib gained six more yards on two carries before a five-yard penalty would force the Tigers to rely on the field goal unit. Elliot helped Memphis inch closer to the Blue Raiders after connecting on a 37-yarder to make the score 14-9 with 5:50 to go in the third quarter.
The Memphis defense continued to hold strong, forcing the Blue Raiders to make another punt after a one-minute drive. The Tigers took over on their own 40-yard line with Hayes getting the team going with a nine-yard rush. Memphis moved into Middle Tennessee territory after a 17-yard pass to Jones at the Blue Raiders 39. The Tigers then moved inside the 10-yard line following a 13-yard run from Hayes and a 17-yard gain from Warford to get to the five. Hayes rushed on the next two plays to the one-yard line before Lynch found Alan Cross in the endzone to give Memphis a 15-14 lead with 13:38 to play.
On the following drive, a Memphis penalty gave the Blue Raiders a first down on the Tigers 49 before the Memphis defense forced three incomplete passes from Kilgore to give the ball back to the visitors.
Memphis' next drive resulted in a three-and-out but received help from Tom Hornsey, who booted the ball 68 yards to the Middle Tennessee 10 with 12:17 to play.
The Blue Raiders quickly moved into Memphis territory after a 43-yard pass from Kilgore to Devin Clarke to the 33-yard line. However, the Tigers defense would get a sack from Johnnie Farms followed by a tackle for loss to force a Middle Tennessee punt.
With Memphis facing a third-and-six with less than six minutes to play, Lynch crossed the first down marker to allow the Tigers to run more clock. The Tigers would fail to move the chains once again, giving the ball to Middle Tennessee at their own 35 with 4:17 to go.
Martin Ifedi came up with a big sack on Kilgore for a loss of five yards to begin the drive. On third-and-15, Kilgore completed an 18-yard pass to Marcus Henry to keep the drive alive for the Blue Raiders.
Kilgore followed with a 25-yard completion to Jefferson to reach the Memphis 26. The Blue Raiders would be forced to a field goal with Clark giving Middle Tennessee the lead with 1:49 to play after a 40-yard kick.
The Tigers took over on their own 25-yard line for a chance to win the game. With Memphis facing a third-and-eight, Lynch found Craig for 26 yards to the Memphis 47. The Tigers moved the chains once again with a 10-yard pass from Lynch to Jones to the Blue Raiders 36-yard line. However, Memphis' chance at a late score would come to an end with two sacks by the Middle Tennessee defense in the last seconds to give the Blue Raiders a 17-15 victory.
Lynch finished 18-of-26 for 164 yards while Hayes led the running game with 81 yards on 15 carries. On defense, Ifedi and Tank Jakes each recorded seven tackles apiece to lead the Tigers.
Memphis will return to Liberty Bowl Memorial Stadium next Saturday when the Tigers face Arkansas State at 3:30 p.m.