Memphis Rally Falls Short to No. 21 Louisville
Nov. 23, 2013
LOUISVILLE, Ky. - No. 21 Louisville (10-1, 6-1 American) fended off a late rally by the University of Memphis football team (3-7, 1-5 American) to hold on for a 24-17 victory Saturday afternoon at Papa John's Cardinal Stadium.
Trailing 24-3 at the end of the third quarter, the Tigers scored two touchdowns in the final period to make it a game against the home team. The Tigers would get the ball back with just under a minute left in regulation, but time expired on their final possession to keep them from a third-straight win.
The Cardinals were held to their second-lowest total offense production (342), and the second-lowest amount of passing yards (220) this season. Paxton Lynch went 11-of-23 for 144 yards and one touchdown while rushing for 42 yards on eight attempts. Keiwone Malone totaled 81 receiving yards on just three catches while Brandon Hayes led the running game with 94 yards on 22 carries to help Memphis to 279 total yards. Charles Harris led the Memphis defense with nine tackles (7 solo), while Andrew Gaines and Ryan Coleman each recorded eight tackles.
Defense by both teams played a large role throughout the first quarter. On Memphis' second series, Lynch was picked off by the Cardinals' Charles Gaines and returned 36 yards to give Louisville good field position at the Memphis 26.
Facing a fourth-and-one on the 17-yard line, the Cardinals would be stopped short of the first down marker as Tank Jakes tackled Louisville quarterback Teddy Bridgewater for a loss of nine yards to give the Tigers the ball.
Memphis' next drive wouldn't last long as Louisville's Sheldon Rankins forced a fumble that was picked up by Preston Brown and returned 48 yards for a touchdown to give the Cardinals a 7-0 lead midway through the first quarter.
In the second quarter, the Tigers defense continued to cause Louisville problems as a 50-yard field goal attempt by John Wallace was blocked by linebacker Jackson Dillon to keep it a one-score game.
The Tigers reached midfield on their next drive after Lynch scrambled for nine yards to give Memphis a first down at the 50. On the next play, Lynch found Malone for 47 yards to get inside the Louisville five-yard line. After a personal foul on the Cardinals, Memphis was given a first-and-goal at the one. The Cardinals held strong at the goal line, making two tackles for loss to force a Memphis field goal. Freshman Jake Elliott converted his 15th field goal of the season to put Memphis on the board following an 18-yarder that made it 7-3 with 6:54 to play in the half.
Louisville didn't waste much time on their next drive as the Cardinals punched in their second touchdown of the day after a 39-yard pass from Bridgewater to DeVante Parker for a 14-3 score with 5:13 remaining in the period.
After a three-and-out by Memphis, Louisville stretched its lead to 17-3 with a 39-yard field goal from Wallace with just over a minute left in the half.
In the third quarter, the Cardinals put together a 16-play, 75-yard touchdown drive that used up 6:37 and capped off with a four-yard touchdown run from Dominique Brown to make it 24-3.
Memphis forced Louisville to punt on its next possession to take over on its own 38-yard line. On the first play from scrimmage, Lynch completed a 23-yard pass to Malone to get into Cardinals territory. Hayes then rushed for nine yards before Lynch found Joe Craig for 20 yards to reach the Louisville 10. Following a six-yard run from Hayes, Lynch found the end zone for the first time for Memphis with a four-yard keeper to make it 24-10 early in the fourth quarter.
The Tigers defense held Louisville for the second-straight drive as Bridgewater threw three incomplete passes to give Memphis the ball at its own 14-yard line with 12 minutes to play.
Hayes began the drive for the Tigers with an 11-yard run before Malone followed with a 14-yard gain on the ground to reach the Memphis 39. Lynch then found Malone for 11 yards to get to midfield. Hayes added another first down for the Tigers with a 14-yard rush to reach the Louisville 35-yard line. Facing a fourth-and-11, Lynch kept the Memphis drive alive with a 15-yard run to get the ball to the Louisville 21.
Lynch then went to Hayes for 11 yards before finding Jesse Milleson for a six-yard touchdown pass to make it 24-17 with six minutes to go.
On Louisville's next possession, the Cardinals reached Memphis territory but Dillon would come up with a big sack on Bridgewater for a loss of seven yards to bring up third-and-15. The Tigers defense then forced Louisville to punt, but a roughing the kicker call on Memphis allowed the Cardinals to keep the ball with three minutes to play.
Facing a third-and-seven, the Cardinals converted with an 11-yard pass to Michaelee Harris to keep their offense on the field. After a third down pass fell incomplete, Bridgewater fell short of the first down marker on a fourth down attempt to give Memphis the ball with 37 seconds to play.
The Tigers would not get much out of their last possession, reaching their own 23-yard line as time expired to give Louisville the 24-17 victory.
Memphis closes out its home slate next Saturday when the Tigers host Louisville in an 11 a.m. (CT) game at Liberty Bowl Memorial Stadium. The game will be televised on ESPNews.