Tigers Fall at Duke, 38-14
Sept. 22, 2012
DURHAM, N.C. - In the schools' first-ever meeting, Duke (3-1) prevented the Memphis (0-4) offense from getting in a rhythm Saturday night as the Blue Devils handed the Tigers a 38-14 loss at Wallace Wade Stadium in Durham, N.C.
Both teams threatened in the first quarter as Duke drove down the field before a fumble in the red zone gave the ball to the Tigers on their own 15 with 11:55 to play. After a Memphis punt, a Duke fumble on the return gave the ball back to the Tigers on the Duke 23 halfway through the first quarter. Duke's defense stayed strong as the Tigers would be stopped just short of a first down at the Blue Devil 14 after an attempt on fourth-and-three.
At the beginning of the second quarter, the Memphis special teams continued its impressive play this season as junior Tom Hornsey's punt was downed at the Duke 3 to put pressure on the Blue Devils offense. One play later, a Duke pass was intercepted by freshman linebacker Wynton McManis for a Tigers touchdown with 14:46 remaining in the half.
On the following drive, Duke quarterback Sean Renfree threw for 59 yards to tie the game at 7-7 with just over 10 minutes left before halftime. Sophomore Bobby McCain helped the Tigers on the kickoff as he gave Memphis excellent field position on the kickoff with a 95-yard return to the Duke 5. McCain's kickoff return was the longest by a Tiger since Kevin Cobb's 95-yard return for a touchdown back in 1996 against Tennessee. On third-and-goal, the Tigers tacked on another score with a two-yard rush by redshirt freshman Tevin Jones for a 14-7 lead at the 9:17 mark in the second quarter.
On the following drive, a 58-yard run by Duke's Jela Duncan gave the Blue Devils the ball inside the Tigers 10-yard line. However, the Tigers defense stayed tough as they held Duke to a field goal for a 14-10 score midway through the second quarter. After a three-and-out for the Tigers, Duke took its first lead of the game at the 4:01 mark in the second with a 37-yard touchdown pass from Renfree to Conner Vernon for a 17-14 lead into the half.
In the third quarter, junior defensive lineman Johnnie Farms forced another Duke fumble, giving the Tigers the ball on their one-yard line. After a three-and-out by the Tigers, Duke took advantage of the good field position as the Blue Devils extended its lead to 10 after a five-play, 29-yard drive with 3:40 remaining in the third.
In the fourth quarter, Duke increased its lead with a 12-play, 73-yard drive that lasted 6:18 to make it 31-14 with 10:27 left in the game. With just over six minutes remaining, the Blue Devils added another score with a 31-yard touchdown pass from Renfree to Vernon for a 38-14 lead.
Duke held an advantage in yards (500-139) and first downs (29-8). Quarterback Jacob Karam was 13-of-22 on the night with 82 yards. For the special teams, McCain totaled 129 yards from three kickoff returns while Hornsey averaged 45.9 yards on eight punts in the game with three going more than 50 yards. On defense, junior lineman Anthony Brown and sophomore linebacker Charles Harris led the Tigers in tackles with 11 each.
The Tigers will have a bye next week before returning home the following week to open Conference USA play as they face Rice on Saturday, Oct. 6. Game time is scheduled for 6 p.m. at Liberty Bowl Memorial Stadium.