Memphis Defeats Tulane 33-17 In C-USA Action Saturday
Oct. 22, 2011
NEW ORLEANS, La. - Freshman quarterback Taylor Reedwas 14-of-26 passing for 213 yards and two touchdowns and rushed for another score, and the Memphis defense and special teams turned in key plays in the third quarter to lift the Tigers to a 33-17 Conference USA victory over Tulane at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome Saturday afternoon.
Reed's two touchdowns tosses gave Memphis a 14-10 halftime lead, but it was the Tigers defense and special teams that helped the visitors secure the win. The Conference USA victory ended Memphis' 16-game skid in league play (last win vs. UTEP in 2009), and the road conference win was the Tigers' first since the 2008 season (at SMU).
The Tigers opened the second half with a 14-10 advantage, but Tulane took the second-half kickoff and drove 80 yards on only six plays to regain the lead at 17-14 with 12:24 on the third-quarter clock. Green Wave quarterback Ryan Griffin went 4-of-4 passing for 77 yards on the drive, including the 29-yard touchdown strike to Wilson Van Hooser.
On the ensuing drive, Memphis adverted disaster on its first play of the second half when a Reed fumble was recovered by the Tulane defense. However, the fumble was overturned by the replay official, and the Tigers kept possession. Memphis, though, was unable to capitalize and was forced to punt.
The Green Wave started their second drive after halftime on their own 46 yard line and drove the ball into Memphis territory to the Tigers 15. On 1st-and-10 from the Memphis 15, Tigers defensive back Bobby McCainintercepted a Griffin pass at the 21 yard line and raced 79 yards for the go-ahead score at 20-17. The interception return for a score was the Tigers' first since the 2003 campaign when Eric Taylor returned a pick 52 yards for a touchdown in the 37-7 shellacking of Louisville at Papa John's Stadium. Memphis missed the PAT after McCain's score, but had the momentum.
Tulane started the next possession on its own 33, but was forced to punt after gaining only five yards. On the punt attempt, the Tigers special teams got into the act when Ricky Holloway blocked the Green Wave punt, and Kendrick Goldenpicked up the loose ball and returned it eight yards inside the Tulane 10 yard line. Four plays later, Reed accounted for his third touchdown of the game when he hit pay dirt from one yard out to give the Tigers a 26-17 advantage.
The next two possessions saw an exchange of interceptions late in the third quarter, but Memphis had control of the contest heading into the final period.
Tulane managed one final scoring threat into Memphis territory early in the fourth quarter, but Cairo Santos' 46-yard field goal attempt hit the left upright and was no good. The field goal would have cut the Tigers lead to 26-20 with over 10 minutes left in the game.
With momentum still in hand following the Tulane missed field goal attempt, the Tigers took over and marched 71 yards for the game-clinching score. Memphis moved the ball inside the Tulane 25 yard line, where Billy Fosterfound the end zone on a reverse from 22 yards out to give the Tigers a commanding 33-17 lead with only 6:55 remaining in the contest.
Memphis got the scoring started in the first quarter on its second drive of the game. The Tigers moved the ball to the Tulane 2 yard line on 10 plays, with the largest gain on the possession a Reed-to-Foster 36-yard screen pass. On the 11th play of the drive, Reed hit Justin Hendersonfrom two yards out for a 7-0 lead.
After Tulane answered with an early second-quarter Santos field goal, Reed directed his second touchdown-scoring drive of the first half. The Tigers started on their own 36, but quickly moved to the Tulane side of the 50 yard line when Reed hit Henderson for a 38-yard gain to the Green Wave 26. Four plays later, Reed connected on his second touchdown toss of the game when he found Tannar Rehrerfrom 19 yards out. The score put Memphis ahead 14-3.
The Green Wave answered with a touchdown just before halftime. After a short Tom Hornseypunt, Tulane took over on the Memphis 40 with just under four minutes left. Two Griffin passes put the Green Wave inside the Tigers 10 yard line. On the next play, Orleans Darkwa scored on a seven-yard run to slice the Memphis lead to 14-10 at the break.
Foster led the Tigers ground attack with 58 yards on 15 carries and a score, and he also had three receptions for 58 yards. Rehrer led all Memphis receivers with five catches for 57 yards and one touchdown.
Darkwa paced the Green Wave offense both rushing (84 yards on 18 carries, TD) and receiving (7 catches for 112 yards). Griffin was 31-of-50 passing for 377 yards and one score. He also had two interceptions.
Tulane outgained Memphis in total yards 459-289 and held a five-minute edge in time of possession (32:46-27:14). However, the Tigers won the crucial turnover battle 3-1.
Terrence Thomasled the Tigers defense with 14 total tackles, including 1.5 TFL. Trent Mackey paced the Green Wave defense with 13 total hits, one sack and two TFL.
The Tigers close out the month of October with an Oct. 29 Conference USA game versus UCF in Orlando, Fla. Game time is 3 p.m. (CT). The road contest at UCF is Memphis' fourth away from the Bluff City in the month of October. The Tigers join Air Force as the only two teams in the nation that will have played four road games in October.