The Tigers tripped under their own feet as they lost in heartbreaking fashion to UTSA 31-28 on a last second field goal. It was a game that many people had circled on their calendars as a trap game for Memphis, which was amplified even further after their emotional win last Saturday over Mississippi State.
Mental errors and costly turnovers in the second half left the Tigers with nobody to blame but themselves for snapping their 17 game home-winning streak on Saturday.
The game started out very similar to the Mississippi State game as Memphis got a scoop-and-score touchdown by redshirt senior defensive lineman Wardalis Duckworth for the first score of the game. Duckworth fell on a fumbled ball in the endzone after a botched snap by the UTSA offense.
It was the beginning of a very solid performance for the Tigers in the first quarter as they added a seven yard touchdown by Rodrigues Clark and a 60 yard bomb by quarterback Seth Henigan to Calvin Austin III to make the score 21-0. Both touchdowns came within three minutes of each other, and it looked like Memphis was on the way to blowout to a victory.
UTSA got themselves on the board about five minutes into the second quarter after a 12 yard touchdown run by junior running back Sincere McCormick. The Converse, Texas native had himself a game against the Tigers as he rumbled his way to 184 yards and three touchdowns on 42 carries for the day. At halftime, Memphis still maintained a 21-7 lead, and everything still felt comfortable for fans.
Things got a little more uneasy in the Liberty Bowl as McCormick once again made his way into the end zone with five minutes left in the third quarter to get the Roadrunners within seven. The drive was helped out by two personal foul penalties by the Tigers defense. Memphis’ offense, however, swiftly countered with their own rushing touchdown as Brandon Thomas forced his way in from the one-yard-line to make it a 28-14 game going into the fourth quarter.
After UTSA cut the lead to seven again early in the fourth quarter, Memphis got the ball with a chance to keep the comeback at bay. Those hopes were dashed as Seth Henigan was sacked and lost the ball which was then recovered by UTSA, leaving them with only needing seven yards to tie the game. The inevitable then happened as McCormick pushed his way into the endzone for the third time on the day.
Henigan hit Calvin for 40 yards to the Roadrunners’ 25 as the Tigers looked to regain the lead. Hearts sank as the emerging running back had a back-breaking fumble at the 19 yard-line giving the ball back to UTSA.
After the Memphis defense stopped UTSA on fourth down, Memphis had a chance to escape with a win. It was nullified as Memphis was forced to punt, highlighted by a 41 yard pass to Gabriel Rogers being called back by a holding penalty on redshirt freshman lineman Jonah Gambill.
As the Roadrunners marched their way toward field goal range, there was a sense of inevitable doom for Tigers fans. As the 42-yard kick from senior kicker Hunter Duplessis went through the uprights, you could hear nothing but the roar from the UTSA team running onto the field celebrating their stunning comeback victory.
The Tigers will be back in action Saturday, looking to rebound against Temple as conference play starts back up. The game in Philadelphia kicks off a two-game roadtrip for the Tigers before they return to the Liberty Bowl in search of starting another home game winning streak.
Junior Jaylon Allen warms up prior to the start of the UTSA game. The Tigers are looking to get back on track after dropping their first two conference games.