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Tigers open season with messy win

<p>Memphis students watched the Tigers win despite the rain. The Tigers won the game 37-29.&nbsp;</p>
Memphis students watched the Tigers win despite the rain. The Tigers won the game 37-29. 

The Memphis Tigers kicked off the football season against Louisiana-Monroe in poor weather conditions due to Tropical Storm Harvey. With the wind and rain making the passing game difficult, the Tigers ran their way to a 37-29 victory.

            Memphis was expected to blow the Warhawks out, but defensive lapses and an ineffective passing game kept it close.

            Sophomores Patrick Taylor Jr. and Darrell Henderson earned their first 100-yard games of their careers. Taylor ended with 131 yards and a 66-yard touchdown run. Henderson had 169 yards with 55-yard and 63-yard touchdowns.  

            Riley Ferguson struggled in the heavy rain and wind, and his receivers did not do him any favors with a few dropped passes, one in the end zone. Four turnovers by the defense and special teams helped the Tigers stay on top. Curtis Akins, who had nine tackles, forced two fumbles. Austin Hall intercepted a pass, and special teams recovered a fumble on the opening kickoff.

            They game started with a fumble by ULM on the opening kickoff that was recovered by David Moore. But the Tigers could not capitalize on the recovery and punted the ball inside the ULM five yard-line.

Patrick Taylor Jr.

Patrick Taylor Jr. beats the defense to the sideline for the 66-yard touchdown. The sophomore earned his first 100-yard game with the Tigers. 

            The next drive resulted in the first score of the game when Taylor ran untouched for 66-yards. Riley Patterson added the extra point for the early 7-0 lead.

            After trading punts, the Warhawks tied the game on a drive that started from their three yard-line. They worked their way down the field then took advantage of a busted coverage when Garrett Smith completed a pass to R.J. Turner for a 43-yard gain to the Memphis 38. After a short gain and an unsportsmanlike penalty on Genard Avery, Derrick Gore found the end zone from 14 yards out. Craig Ford tied the game with the PAT.

            The Tigers answered the ULM touchdown with one of their own on the next drive. Tony Pollard set Memphis up with solid field position by taking the kickoff to the Tigers’ 45 yard-line. From there, the Tigers chipped away with short runs before a Henderson 14-yard rush and 20-yard completion from Riley Ferguson to Joey Magnifico.

            The Magnifico 20-yard play was originally ruled a touchdown as he stretched for the end zone, but after review, he was ruled down at the one. After a run for no gain ended the quarter, Ferguson found the end zone from two yards out on the second play of the second quarter. David Moore entered the game for the two-point conversion and fumbled to keep the score at 13-7.

Jared Gentry

Jared Gentry rushed the quarterback and forces an incompletion. The defensive lineman made two tackles and had a quarterback hurry in the game. 

            Two Tiger drives later, Henderson took the first handoff after the ULM punt for a 55-yard touchdown. Patterson tacked on the extra point for the 20-7 lead that the Tigers would hold heading into the half.

            Memphis’ defense faced a scare when ULM went seven plays for 60 yards and marched inside the Tiger five yard-line. But Curtis Akin forced a fumble and Jonathan Wilson recovered.  

            Pollard opened the second half with a 99-yard kickoff return for a score. He followed his blockers up the middle of the field and left the defenders in the dust when he saw a crease. Patterson added the PAT for the 27-7 lead.

            Patterson added a 20-yard field goal to take a 30-7 lead after a 71-yard drive stalled due to a dropped pass in the end zone. Then the Warhawks answered with a touchdown to bring the score to 30-14.

            The Memphis continued their hot third quarter when Henderson took a handoff 63-yards for his second score. He rushed up the left side of the field for about 30 yards, but as defenders closed on him, he made a cut and to the right side of the field for a touchdown. Patterson made his fourth extra point of the game for the 37-14 lead.

            With about five minutes left, the ULM offense struck again with an 84-yard drive. They steadily moved down field until a 17-yard completion and targeting penalty on Wilson moved them to the Tigers’ 16 yard-line. Smith then completed a 16-yard pass for a touchdown. The PAT brought the score to 37-21.

            After reviewing the targeting penalty, Wilson was suspended for the rest of the game and for the first half of next week’s game against UCF.

            A fumble late in the fourth quarter gave the Warhawks the ball at their 34 yard-line. Then they worked their way down the field with a few long completions to get inside the Tigers’ 10. Caleb Evan capped off the drive with a touchdown pass to Xavier Brown from six yards out. They cut the lead to eight with an Evans pass to Brian Williams to convert on the two-point conversion.

            With the game at 37-29, ULM tried on onside kick with 40 seconds left, but it was recovered by Evan Michael. Ferguson kneeled the ball a few times and let the clock run out for the victory.

Memphis students watched the Tigers win despite the rain. The Tigers won the game 37-29. 

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