Tigers Drop Final Game, 44-7, at Southern Miss
Nov. 26, 2011
HATTIESBURG, Miss. - The Tigers closed out the season on the road in Hattiesburg, Miss., with a 44-7 loss to Southern Miss Saturday afternoon at M.M. Roberts Stadium. Memphis turned in a 2-10 record overall; 1-7 in Conference USA. Southern Miss improved to 10-2 overall; 6-2 in C-USA and will now face Houston in the league championship game on Saturday, Dec. 3 in Houston.
Memphis scored its only touchdown on defense with just under seven minutes remaining in the game. Following a 12-play drive, the second-longest of the day for the Tigers, Tom Hornsey put the Golden Eagles on their own 4-yard line. On the first play from scrimmage, Jamal Woodyard rushed for a loss of two yards and Akeem Davis forced him to cough up the ball, which was recovered by Mitch Huelsing in the endzone for the touchdown.
The fumble recovery was the fourth this season for Huelsing and the first time he had scored on a recovery. The forced fumble was the third of the season for Davis. Memphis has scored four defensive touchdowns this season, two of which have come in the last two games. Huelsing, who also had an interception in the third quarter, led the Tigers in tackles with 11. He tied his previous career high, which was set last year against Tennessee. Huelsing has been a spark for the Tiger defense, registering five takeaways in the last three games - three fumble recoveries and two interceptions.
The Tiger defense has forced 30 turnovers this season with 12 interceptions and 18 fumble recoveries. The squad more than doubled its turnovers gained from the previous season when the Tigers tallied just 13 turnovers in 12 games. The only team this season to not yield a turnover to the Tigers was UCF. Memphis entered today's game ranked ninth nationally in turnovers gained and tied for fourth in fumble recoveries.
Redshirt-sophomore Andy Summerlin got the start for the Tigers at quarterback with Taylor Reed out with an ankle injury he suffered last Thursday night against Marshall. It was Summerlin's second start of the season as he also started the season opener against Mississippi State. He left that game early with an ankle injury and had come in on three other games during the season. Summerlin completed 21 of 45 passes for 174 yards and two interceptions. Memphis had come into the game ranked tied for 16th nationally in interceptions thrown and had not thrown a pick in the last three-straight games.
Two receivers extended their double-digit receiving streaks as redshirt freshman Kevin Wright has caught a pass in each of the 12 games this season and senior Tannar Rehrer has caught a pass in 16-straight games, dating back to the Tennessee game in 2010. Rehrer finished the game with seven receptions for 53 yards, marking the ninth time this season that he had registered five or more catches in a game. Rehrer closed out his senior season with 70 receptions for 593 yards. His 70 receptions places him second in the U of M single-season record book, just behind Isaac Bruce, who tallied 74 catches in 1993. Rehrer surpassed Duke Calhoun, who totaled 68 receptions in 2009, for the No. 2 spot.
Southern Miss dominated the game, logging 540 yards of total offense, 387 of which were in the first half. The Golden Eagles rushed for 255 yards and passed for 285 yards. Austin Davis was 14 of 26 passing for 277 yards, two touchdowns and an interception. Davis also rushed for 26 yards and scored on an 18-yard scamper in the second quarter.
Tracy Lampley was a favorite target of Davis, hauling in five receptions for 116 yards and a touchdown. Lampley scored off a 49-yard pass from Davis in the second quarter. Southern Miss opened the game with a 41-yard Davis to Ryan Balentine hook up with 8:30 remaining in the first quarter.
Two Southern Miss defenders got in on the scoring, making touchdown runs on both of their interceptions. Deron Wilson got the first "Pick 6" with his 35-yard return with just over a minute remaining in the second quarter. USM threatened to score again after Summerlin was sacked on the Tigers' next drive and fumbled the ball, which was recovered by Octavius Thomas at the Memphis 17. Southern Miss was poised to score with just three seconds remaining in the half when corner Taurean Nixon caused Desmond Johnson to fumble the ball at the 1-yard line. The Tigers went into the locker room at the half down 34-0 as the Golden Eagles tallied 387 yards of total offense on 46 plays. Memphis logged just 55 yards on 27 plays in the first half.
The other defensive touchdown for Southern Miss was a 100-yard interception return by Kendrick Presley with 1:17 remaining in the third quarter. Danny Hrapmann also added three field goals for Southern Miss, hitting from 23, 35 and 27 yards out.
Senior Frank Trotter also logged double digit tackles for the Tigers with 10 stops. He also posted one TFL for a loss of two yards. The TFL gives Trotter 36.5 for his career, and now ranks him third at Memphis in career TFL. He surpassed Marlon Brown, who previously held the No. 3 spot with 36 TFL from 1985-88. Trotter started 36 of 49 career games and closed out his career with 150 tackles.