Tigers Claw Tulane, 37-23
Nov. 10, 2012
MEMPHIS, Tenn. -The Memphis (2-8, 2-4 C-USA) football team used a balanced offensive attack and a scrappy defensive effort to get the Tigers' seventh-straight win over Tulane(2-8, 2-4 C-USA), 37-23, Saturday night at Liberty Bowl Memorial Stadium.
On the first play of the game, Lonnie Ballentine picked off his third pass of the season on a Green Wave trick play to give the Tigers the ball on their own 46. Looking at a fourth-and-three, the Tigers continued their fourth down dominance as Jacob Karam picked up a first down with a four-yard dash. The Tigers offense looked solid the rest of the drive with a 16-yard run by Brandon Hayes and a 15-yard touchdown pass from Karam to Jesse Milleson to put Memphis up 6-0 with 11:19 remaining in the first quarter.
On Tulane's next possession, quarterback Ryan Griffin was 7-of-8 through the air to give the Green Wave the lead at 7-6 with 6:12 left in the first quarter. After forcing the Tigers to a three-and-out, the Green Wave tacked on a 45-yard field goal by Cairo Santos right before the end of the opening period to take a 10-6 lead.
Memphis responded a few minutes later with a 10-play, 75-yard drive capped off with a one-yard touchdown run by Jai Steib to put the Tigers up 13-10 with 12:05 remaining in the half. On the Green Wave's next drive, Santos answered again with a 43-yard field goal to tie it up at 13, with just more than eight minutes to go in the first half.
Midway through the first half, Santos tied the game up once again for the Green Wave with a 30-yard field goal on a penalty-filled drive by both teams. On the Tigers' following possession, Karam connected to Milleson for 23 yards before completing the team's longest touchdown pass of the season, a 52-yarder to Tevin Jones to put Memphis up 23-16 with 7:34 left in the third quarter.
On the first play of the fourth quarter, the Memphis defense stepped up big, holding Tulane on fourth-and-goal from the one-yard line to give the Tigers the ball back with a seven-point lead. Karam started the drive off for the Tigers with a 44-yard pass to Reggie Travis to get into Green Wave territory. The Tigers entered the redzone with a 19-yard completion from Karam to Alan Cross for a first-and-goal opportunity from the Tulane five yard line. A pass from Hayes to Travis gave the Tigers their largest lead of the game at 30-16 with 10 minutes remaining in the game. The 97-yard touchdown drive tied the longest of the season for Memphis with the other being against UT Martin to open the season.
In Tulane's next drive, Griffin was forced into a shovel pass to avoid a sack, which was intercepted by Tank Jakes and returned 32 yards for a touchdown, increasing the Memphis lead to 37-16 with three and a half minutes left. The interception was Memphis' fourth of the game, the most since a 38-35 win against East Carolina in 2004.
Tulane set the final score of the game as Darion Monroe recovered a Memphis fumble and returned it 54 yards for a 37-23 score.
Karam finished the game 14-of-18 for 270 yards, helping the Tigers total 386 on the night. Hayes led the running game for Memphis with 51 yards on 16 carries, while Marcus Rucker led all receivers with 55 yards on four receptions. On defense, Anthony Brown totaled 11 tackles while Charles Harris added eight.
The Tigers will travel to Birmingham, Ala., next Saturday to take on UAB in the team's final away game. Game time is scheduled for 6 p.m.