Ray Rushes for 176 Yards in Loss to Houston
Oct. 30, 2010
MEMPHIS, Tenn. - Memphis redshirt senior Gregory Ray had a career night rushing, but the Houston offense was clicking on all cylinders en route to a 56-17 Conference USA victory over the Tigers at Liberty Memorial Stadium. The game was Memphis' Homecoming.
Ray carried the ball 23 times for a career-best 176 yards and one touchdown. The 176-yard performance bested his previous career high of 121 yards against Middle Tennessee earlier this year. Ray's one touchdown came in the fourth quarter from five yards out.
Ray's 176 rushing yards were the most by a Tiger since the 2009 regular season finale at Tulsa last November. In that game versus the Golden Hurricane, Curtis Steele rushed for 232 yards.
Senior linebacker Jamon Hughes paced the Memphis defense with 15 stops, marking the 12th-consecutive game he's been the Tigers' leading tackler dating back to last season. It was Hughes' 14th-straight game in which he logged six or more tackles. Frank Trotter was the Tigers' second-leading tackler with 10 hits.
The Tigers' first touchdown drive began late in the third quarter after the Memphis defense recovered a Cougar fumble at its own 23 with 1:39 left. Five plays and 2:18 later, Ray scampered into the end zone from five yards out for Memphis' first touchdown. Ray's score cut the Houston lead to 49-10.
On the Tigers' scoring drive, Ray was responsible for 70 of the 77 yards, gaining all 70 of his yards on five carries. Ray had two huge rushes of 34 and 28 yards on the possession.
Memphis scored its second touchdown five minutes later when redshirt sophomore quarterback Cannon Smith found the end zone from one yard out. Smith's touchdown was the final score in the Cougars' 56-17 win.
Smith finished the game with five rushes for 22 yards and was 2-of-5 passing for 65 yards.
The Cougars led 35-3 at the break and scored the first two touchdowns of the second half to increase their advantage to 49-3 with 5:33 left in the third period. Houston quarterback David Piland threw his fourth and fifth touchdowns of the game in the period before being pulled for freshman quarterback Terrance Broadway.
Piland finished the game 20-of-23 passing for 292 yards and five touchdowns. Broadway came in with five minutes left in the third quarter and was 4-of-4 passing for 111 yards, including a 54-yard scoring strike to E.J. Smith with 12:41 left in the contest.
Michael Hayes led the Houston ground attack with 123 yards on 20 carries and one score. Chris Wilson added 95 rushing yards on 18 carries. Three Cougars - Smith (89 yards), James Cleveland (84) and Patrick Edwards (78) - went over the 75-yard receiving mark in the contest.
Nick Saenz and David Hunter each recorded eight tackles to lead the Houston defense.
The Tigers opened the scoring on the game's first possession. Memphis began the drive on its own 32 and moved the ball into Houston territory on the third play when Ryan Williams completed a nine-yard pass to Devin Onarheim to the Cougar 46. The Tigers' drive continued to the Houston 22 yard line where Memphis got a 39-yard field goal from Paulo Henriques for a 3-0 lead with 9:57 left in the first quarter.
From that point, the Houston offense exploded for 49-straight points. The Cougars gained their first lead of the game three minutes later when an eight-play, 66-yard drive culminated in a Piland-to-Edwards 15-yard touchdown. Houston took the lead with 6:44 left in the opening period.
The Cougars revved it up in the second quarter with a 28-point eruption for a 35-3 halftime lead. After a Hayes one-yard run gave Houston a 14-3 lead, the Cougars' special teams got in the act on the visitors' next score. The Houston defense forced a 3-and-out on the Tigers' next possession, and Tom Hornsey sent a 45-yard punt to the Cougar 26 yard line. Edwards received the punt and raced 74 yards to the end zone for a 21-3 Houston lead.
The Cougars added two more scores before halftime - both Piland touchdown tosses - to take a 35-3 advantage. Piland's second touchdown connection of the game was a 54-yard pass to Edwards, and his third scoring pass was a 22-yarder to Hayes.
Houston's 56 points are tied for the most by a Tiger opponent at the Liberty Bowl. The Cougars tied Louisville in 2004 (56-49 Cardinal win) and East Carolina (56-40 Pirate win) for the most points scored against Memphis at the Liberty Bowl.
The Tigers return to action Nov. 6 when they host in-state rival Tennessee at the Liberty Bowl. Game time is 7 p.m. (CT), and CBS College Sports is airing the game.