Tigers Football Drops Heartbreaker to UAB, 41-35
Nov. 12, 2011
MEMPHIS, Tenn. - The Memphis running back tandem of sophomore Jerrell Rhodes and redshirt senior Billy Foster combined for 182 rushing yards and three scores, but it wasn't enough as longtime rival UAB scored 24 unanswered points in the final quarter for a come-from-behind 41-35 Conference USA win over the Tigers Saturday. Rhodes finished with a career-high 95 yards on 17 carries, and Foster added 87 yards on 10 rushes.
The Tigers honored their 16 seniors prior to the game in "Senior Day" ceremonies, before a crowd of 17,848 at Liberty Bowl Memorial Stadium.
Memphis held a 21-10 advantage at halftime, but the Blazers threatened to cut into the Tigers' lead on their opening drive of the second half. UAB started on its own 29 and moved the ball inside the Memphis 20, where Tigers defensive back Bakari Hollier forced a fumble that Akeem Davis recovered at the 23 yard line, halting the Blazers' scoring drive.
On the ensuing possession, Memphis kept the ball on the ground and, in nine plays, moved it to the UAB 1. From there, Rhodes hit pay dirt to give the Tigers a 28-10 advantage with 7:27 left in the third quarter. Foster accounted for 34 rushing yards on the drive, while Rhodes gained the final 11 yards on three plays for the touchdown.
The Blazers responded quickly on their next drive, scoring a touchdown in just over two minutes. UAB moved to the Memphis 47 yard line in five plays, and from there, scored when quarterback Jonathan Perry found Jamarcus Nelson in the flat and Nelson weaved his way for the score.
Memphis then answered back with a quick 1:19 drive that ended in a Rhodes' 22-yard scamper to the end zone. The Tigers were set up with a short field when Hollier returned the kickoff to the UAB 49. From there, Foster gained 19 yards to the Blazers 30, and then Rhodes rushed for eight yards, setting up his touchdown run on the next play.
However, the scoring ended for the Tigers there, as they were shutout and managed only 28 yards of total offense in the final quarter. While the Memphis offense slowed down, the UAB offense picked up the pace, scoring 24 points and piling up 200 yards of total offense in the fourth quarter.
The Blazers scored on four-straight possession in the fourth quarter. After a Ty Long field goal and a Nick Adams touchdown pass from Perry cut the Memphis lead to 35-27, the Blazers scored a second touchdown in the period when Perry hit Nelson from 42 yards out to slice the lead to 35-33 with 7:08 left. The two-point conversion failed, allowing Memphis to continue to hold the advantage.
The Blazers' defense held Memphis to a 3-and-out on its next possession, and after a Tom Hornsey 43-yard punt, UAB started the game-winning drive on its own 23 yard line. Perry went 5-of-7 passing for 47 yards on the drive, and his last connection was a 13-yard strike to Nelson at the Memphis 10. On the next play, Greg Franklin bulled his way over the goal line to give the Blazers its first lead of the game. After the two-point conversion, UAB led 41-35 with 1:28 left.
The Tigers drove the ball to the UAB 43 on the ensuing possession, but the drive stalled there and the Blazers ran out the clock for the win.
Memphis started the game on fire, scoring 21 points in the first 22 minutes and holding UAB to only a field goal. Tigers' quarterback Taylor Reed accounted for two of the scores, hitting Justin Henderson for an 11-yard touchdown in the first quarter and then finding Tannar Rehrer for a six-yard touchdown in the second period. In that scoring stretch, Foster found the end zone midway through the first quarter.
The Tigers defense held UAB in check through most of the first half. The Blazers managed only 101 yards of total offense in the first quarter and had 210 total yards by halftime. UAB scored its only touchdown of the first half with under three minutes to play before halftime.
Reed was 16-of-29 passing for 167 yards and two touchdowns. Rehrer led all Tigers with seven receptions (29 yards), while Foster led the team with 79 receiving yards.
Darrin Reaves and Greg Franklin paced the UAB running game with 73 yards each. Perry finished the game 29-of-48 passing for 410 yards and four touchdown tosses. Jay Davis led the Blazers receiving corps with seven catches (61 yards), while Nelson had a game-best 133 receiving yards on six catches and two scores.
The Tigers return to action Thursday, Nov. 17 for their regular season home finale versus Marshall at the Liberty Bowl. The game, to be televised by SportSouth, is slated for a 7 p.m. (CT) start.