Fast-Starting Tigers Roll, 46-9
Nov. 17, 2012
BIRMINGHAM, Ala. -- From the opening kickoff, each of the three phases of the University of Memphis' football game was clicking on all cylinders Saturday at Legion Field.
The Tigers defense held UAB to three-and-outs on the Blazers' opening two offensive series. The Tigers offense scored touchdowns on its first four offensive drives. Highlighting the Tigers special teams was a punt return unit which amassed over 100 yards in returns for just the fourth time in school history and also set up an early score by blocking a punt.
The team effort resulted in a 46-9 road win Saturday at UAB. With the victory, Memphis has won consecutive games for the first time since 2008. The Tigers have equaled the number of wins in its last two combined seasons and the team is insured of having its best record since '08.
Memphis, now 3-8 and 3-4 in Conference USA play, closes out its season next week with Senior Day, playing host to longtime rival Southern Miss.
UAB's first series ended with Tiger defensive lineman Terry Reddensacking Blazer quarterback Austin Brown for a six-yard loss. On the ensuing punt following the sack, UAB was flagged for a face mask penalty and the Tigers took possession near midfield.
After running back Brandon Hayes was stopped for a one-yard loss, quarterback Jacob Karam completed back-to-back 12-yard passes to Marcus Rucker and Keiwone Malone. Jai Steibwould later convert a third-and-four play with a 10-yard burst to the UAB 12. After Karam ran for five yards to the seven on second down, Hayes would find the end zone for his first of three touchdowns on the day, giving Memphis a 7-0 lead with 8:54 left in the first quarter.
Lonnie Ballentinewould break up a UAB pass on third down of the Blazers' second offensive series to force a punt.
Memphis would take possession at the 30. Hayes would set the tone on the Tigers' second drive with a 13-yard run then catch a 17-yard pass from Karam. Later in the drive Karam would hook up with Malone for a 30-yard touchdown pass.
After the Blazers moved the yardsticks for the first time on their third series, Memphis' defense held near midfield to force UAB to punt again. The return unit set the Tigers up in great field position as Reggis Ball blocked the punt and Kendrick Goldenrecovered the ball at the UAB 24.
On first down, tight end Alan Crosswas tackled for a one-yard loss on a pass reception. On second down, Cross sprinted down field and was able to snare a pass from Karam, diving into the end zone for the Tigers' third touchdown of the first quarter and putting Memphis out in front 21-0 with 2:16 to play in the opening stanza.
Memphis' next offensive series, a 9-play, 75-yard drive, culminated with a 2-yard touchdown reception by Jesse Millesonwho has now caught TD passes in each of the last three games.
Milleson began the scoring drive by catching a 21-yard pass from Karam and the Tigers converted two, third-down plays on the drive - a pass interference call on an incomplete pass play to Marcus Rucker with UM facing third-and-7 and a three-yard run by Brandon Hayeslater on third-and-2.
Paulo Henriqueswould kick a career-long 51-yard field goal in the third quarter to extend the Tigers' lead to 31-3.
Redden's second sack of the game would lead to a Brown fumble that Akeem Davisrecovered at the UAB 18.
On first down, Malone tossed a throwback pass to Karam for 13 yards. Hayes would then find the end zone to give the Tigers a 37-3 lead.
Malone's 21-yard punt return helped set up a 46-yard touchdown run by Hayes later in the fourth quarter.
Hayes finished the game with 19 carries for 127 yards. Karam was 14-for-16 passing for 147 yards and three touchdowns. In addition to five punt returns for 112 total yards, Malone caught two passes for 42 yards. Rucker led the Tigers with four receptions for 25 yards while Cross caught three passes for 36 yards.
The Tigers' final points came after UAB scored its lone touchdown. Memphis blocked the point after try and Charles Harrisreturned the ball for the defensive PAT, stretching the Tigers' lead to 46-9 with 6:00 to play.
After three straight rushing games of better than 100 yards including one, 200-yard game, the Tigers' defense held UAB's Darrin Reaves to 38 yards on 14 carries.
UAB's offense was held to 213 yards of total offense including 26 net rushing yards.
Memphis totaled 333 yards of total offense.