Memphis Defeats Marshall, 24-21
Oct. 2, 2007
MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) -- Memphis, playing just two days after the death of a teammate, converted that emotion into a 24-21 victory over Marshall on Tuesday night as Will Hudgens threw for a career-high 346 yards.
Memphis defensive lineman Taylor Bradford was killed in an on-campus shooting Sunday night. The team voted after the tragedy to play the game in the junior's honor, and he was named an honorary captain.
Memphis (2-3, 1-1 Conference USA) recognized Bradford in several ways, from round, black "TB" stickers on the back of players' helmets to a moment of silence before the game. Students, some clad in black and many wearing stickers with Bradford's No. 93, released balloons before the game. At halftime, the Memphis band played "Amazing Grace" as the fans stood in silence.
Hudgens, subbing for injured starter Martin Hankins, completed 30 of 45 passes. His two second-half touchdown passes and a pass for a 2-point conversion to Carlos Singleton erased a Marshall lead in the third quarter.
The Thundering Herd (0-5, 0-1) self-destructed in the second half, fumbling at the Tigers 24 and then botching a 25-yard field goal attempt in the fourth quarter when holder Emmanuel Spann fumbled the snap. They were unable to convert a fourth-and-3 at the Tigers 41 with under a minute left.
Bradford, a junior from Nashville, died after a shooting at a residential complex on the Memphis campus about 9:45 p.m. Sunday. He drove a short distance before his car crashed into a tree. Emergency workers answering the wreck call, discovered Bradford was shot. He died later at a Memphis hospital.
The Tigers showed their unity from the time they walked out of the dressing room. Instead of the normal bouncing, running entrance before the game, Memphis walked methodically out of the tunnel arm-and-arm in rows of five players.
Fans put aside the normal raucous pre-game cheering and fight songs for a moment of silence for Bradford. The teams stood on their respective sidelines for the moment.
Bradford, a 5-foot-11, 300-pounder who transferred from Samford, was used primarily on the practice scout team. He had not played in a game this season.
The emotion carried the Tigers to two early drives that resulted in Matt Reagan's field goals of 25 and 26 yards.
The Tigers were without Hankins, who still is recovering from a hip injury suffered in a 35-31 loss at Arkansas State last Thursday.
Hudgens completed his first four passes, leading to Reagan's first field goal. Reagan added the 26-yarder on the Tigers' second possession.
Memphis managed 245 yards in the half, 192 through the air, but could not manage to find the end zone.
Marshall was held to 125 total yards in the half, but took a 7-6 lead with just under 7 minutes left. Quarterback Bernard Morris connected with tight end Cody Slate for a 20-yard score.
But Reagan connected on a 30-yard field goal with 4 seconds left in the half for Memphis' 9-7 lead.
Darius Marshall's 11-yard touchdown run gave Marshall a 14-9 lead. The Tigers answered with Hudgens' first touchdown pass of game -- a 19-yarder over the middle to Carlos Singleton.
Hudgens' second scoring pass was to Greg Hinds for 4 yards, giving Memphis the lead for good.