Turnovers Doom Tigers in 25-15 Loss to Houston
Oct. 12, 2013
HOUSTON - Despite outgaining Houston (5-0, 2-0) in yardage 349-247, four fumbles hurt the University of Memphis football team (1-4, 0-2) in a 25-15 loss to the Cougars on Saturday afternoon at BBVA Compass Stadium.
Freshman kicker Jake Elliott was the highlight for the Tigers, tying a school record with five field goals including a career-long 50-yarder. Elliott tied Ryan White's record mark from 1999 against UAB, and is now 10-for-10 this season.
The Memphis defense held its opponent to under 300 yards of offense for the fourth-straight game. The Tigers allowed the high-powered Houston offense to just 38 rushing yards and forced quarterback John O'Korn to 13-of-30 for 198 passing yards. Junior linebacker Tank Jakes led the Memphis defense with a career-high nine tackles.
Freshman quarterback Paxton Lynch went 21-of-41 with 222 yards through the air. Sophomore receiver Mose Frazier led the Tigers with 81 yards on five catches while senior running back Brandon Hayes led the ground game with 72 yards on 12 carries.
In the first quarter, a 22-yard gain by freshman running back Marquis Warford and a five-yard rush from Hayes moved the Tigers into Cougar territory. The Cougar defense showed its presence early by causing a fumble after a nine-yard pass completion from Lynch to junior Adrian Henderson to take over on their own 43-yard line.
The Houston offense went to the air on their opening drive, beginning with a 29-yard pass from O'Korn to Deontay Greenberry to reach the Memphis 28. On third-and-10 from the 17, O'Korn found Daniel Spencer in the end zone to give the Cougars a 7-0 advantage with 10:13 to play in the first quarter.
The Tigers continued to move the ball well as Frazier gained 16 yards on the ground to reach midfield. After a holding penalty by the Cougars, Hayes gained 17 yards to get Memphis inside the Houston 10-yard line. However, two false starts by the Tigers would force a field goal. Elliott remained perfect on the season by connecting on a 33-yarder to make it 7-3 with 3:05 remaining in the first quarter.
After holding Houston on their next possession, Hayes got the Tigers started with a 17-yard gain to move the ball to their own 37. Facing a third-and-10, Lynch found sophomore receiver Tevin Jones for 23 yards down to the Houston 39. However, the Houston defense would not allow Memphis to get much farther, forcing the kicking unit to return to the field. Going for a career-long 50-yard field goal, Elliott converted to bring the score to 7-6 with 11:35 left in the half.
Memphis held Houston to a three-and-out on its next drive but would fumble on its first snap from the line of scrimmage to give it back to the Cougars at the Memphis 11.
The Memphis defense held strong after the mistake to force a 24-yard field goal by Richie Leone to put Houston up 10-6 with 8:21 to go before halftime.
For the second-straight drive and third time in the game, the Tigers fumbled to give the ball to Houston at the Memphis 33-yard line. A holding penalty by the Cougars would force Houston to go for it on fourth down, but the Tigers held tough to get the ball back with five minutes left in the half.
After a 23-yard completion from Lynch to Frazier, Lynch found junior receiver Joe Craig for 16 yards to get down to the Houston 23. Lynch then went to Hayes for 11 yards for another first down, but the Tigers would have to go with Elliott once again, who made it 10-9 with a 24-yarder to go into halftime.
Houston started the second half with a 45-yard kickoff return from Demarcus Ayers out of the end zone. After a Cougar first down, Martin Ifedi came up with a huge sack on O'Korn to force a Houston punt.
Taking over on their own 14-yard line, Lynch found Frazier for 31 yards followed by a Houston penalty to get into Cougar territory. Memphis would get into the red zone after a 12-yard completion from Lynch to Warford before Houston's defense held strong once again to force a field goal. Elliott converted his fourth of the game and ninth of the season with a 42-yarder to give the Tigers their first lead at 12-10 with 7:34 remaining in the third quarter.
On third-and-one, Houston fumbled the ball on their next drive before Ifedi recovered to give the Tigers the ball at the Houston 38.
Memphis started the possession with a 12-yard pass from Lynch to Craig but the drive would result in a fifth field goal from Elliott, who connected on a 38-yarder to tie a school record for a 15-10 lead with 4:34 left in the third.
Houston got its drive started with a 30-yard pass from O'Korn to Greenberry to reach Memphis territory. Facing a fourth-and-four, a neutral zone infraction by the Tigers helped the Cougars keep their drive alive. O'Korn then found Xavier Maxwell for 33 yards to reach the one-yard line before Kenneth Farrow punched it in for a 16-15 advantage. On the two-point conversion, O'Korn was almost sacked on the play by Ifedi before flipping the ball to Farrow to give the Cougars an 18-15 lead with 1:59 to play in the third.
After a three-and-out by Memphis, Houston began its next drive with a 44-yard pass from O'Korn to Ryan Jackson to reach the Memphis 18. On third-and-goal from the one, a Memphis penalty gave the Cougars a fresh set of downs before Farrow ran six yards for a 25-15 lead with 10 minutes to play.
With less than three minutes to play, Memphis stayed alive by converting a fourth-and-four from Lynch to Hayes for 10 yards. However, the Tigers would only reach midfield on their final drive of the game, resulting in a 25-15 defeat.
Memphis returns to Liberty Bowl Memorial Stadium next Saturday when it faces SMU at 11 a.m. (CT).