MTSU Comes Back From Halftime Deficit to Defeat Memphis, 38-31
Oct. 1, 2011
MURFREESBORO, Tenn. - A 94-yard touchdown drive in the final two minutes by Middle Tennessee spoiled the University of Memphis' highest scoring output since 2009 in a 38-31 loss on Saturday night at Floyd Stadium.
"This is a painful loss," said Memphis head coach Larry Porter. "Our team played hard and strong and left it all on the field. We came up short. Whether it was the first play or the last play, there were a number of opportunities we had to win this game, and we did not get it done. I hurt deeply for this team because I thought the effort they brought tonight was good enough for us to win."
Memphis jumped to a 17-0 lead in the second quarter, but the Blue Raiders battled back and tied the game at 24 in the fourth. MTSU took its first lead in the game with 3:14 remaining in the fourth, but Memphis answered with a quick five play, 79 yard drive to knot the score at 31.
Middle Tennessee began its game-winning drive with 1:41 remaining on the clock and scored on a 33-yard pass from Logan Kilgore to Anthony Amos. With only 11 seconds left in the game, Memphis attempted a hook and ladder that resulted in a fumble and was recovered by MTSU to end the game.
"It was a great effort by our team as a whole," said redshirt junior defensive lineman Dontari Poe. "There is a lot we can learn from this game. There are lots of things we did well, but at the end of the day, we have to learn how to pull out the win."
The Tigers rushed for a season high 165 yards with three touchdowns. Redshirt-senior Billy Foster led the squad with 94 yards rushing on 23 attempts and two touchdowns. The two rushing touchdowns were the most by a U of M player since Gregory Ray scored two against Middle Tennessee last year. Foster has three rushing TDs on the season and four total touchdowns.
Senior Tannar Rehrer led Memphis with a career best 10 receptions for 72 yards. Seven of his 10 catches went for first downs. Freshman Taylor Reed finished with 230 yards passing on 25-of-32 attempts with one touchdown.
Prior to Kilgore's game-winning touchdown pass to Amos, Memphis had tied the game at 31 on a 23-yard reception by redshirt-freshman Keiwone Malone from Reed. Down by a touchdown and with 3:14 remaining, the Tigers went 79 yards on five plays for the score. It was Malone's first career touchdown and the fifth touchdown pass thrown by Reed this year.
Middle Tennessee took its first lead in the game with 3:14 remaining in the fourth quarter. On a rush by William Pratcher, Akeem Davis forced a fumble at the Memphis 10-yard line. The ball rolled into the end zone where it was recovered by the Malcolm Beyah for a Blue Raider touchdown.
The MTSU fumble recovery for a touchdown was its second-straight TD in the fourth quarter. D.D. Kyles ran the ball 59-yards for a score with 7:19 remaining to tie the game up at 24.
After the Blue Raiders had tied the score up at 17 in the third quarter on a 36-yard pass from Logan to Malcolm Beyah, Foster gave Memphis a 24-17 lead on a two-yard run for his second touchdown in the game.
Memphis had entered the half with a 17-10 lead. Foster ran the ball into the end zone on the Tigers' opening drive to give Memphis an early 7-0 advantage. The touchdown capped a 76-yard, nine-play drive for the U of M.
Later in the first quarter, Davis picked up his fourth turnover in the last two games with a 33-yard interception return. Davis intercepted a Logan Kilgore pass at the Memphis 49-yard line and returned it to the Memphis 18. Davis had an interception and two fumble recoveries last week against SMU.
The takeaway resulted in a 36-yard field goal by Paulo Henriques to increase the Tiger lead to 10-0. Henriques is now 11-for-11 on field goals under 40 yards during his career.
Memphis scored its second drive of the first half on a seven-yard rush by Reed to go up 17-0 with 13:38 left in the second quarter. The 69-yard touchdown drive was highlighted by a team season long 28-yard rush by Artaves Gibson that surpassed Foster's 27-yard rush from earlier in the game. It was Reed's first career rushing touchdown.
Middle Tennessee then scored 10 unanswered points to end the first half on a five-yard pass from Kilgore to Beyah and a 21-yard field goal by Alan Gendreau.
Memphis will next play at Rice on October 8 in Houston, Texas. The game will be carried live on CSS at 11:30 a.m.