Everything started off slow for both the Memphis Tigers football team and its counterpart, SMU. Missed field goals and turnovers were the theme early, but with both teams failing to capitalize on these opportunities, the game looked like anyone’s to grab.
The Tigers pounced on that opportunity when their offense ramped up in the 2nd half of the contest.
Tigers quarterback Seth Henigan threw for 392 yards and 2 touchdowns as the Tigers (5-4, 2-3 AAC) withstood a late SMU (7-2, 3-2 AAC) rally to emerge victorious 28-25.
The first half was a defensive slugfest, with SMU taking a 10-7 lead into the halftime break. However, the Tiger offense began to open up in the third quarter, as Henigan and company began to find their mark. Despite not having running backs Brandon Thomas and Kylan Watkins, Memphis found its groove offensively as the game continued.
Tigers running back Asa Martin scored on a 1 yard rushing touchdown to give Memphis the lead midway through the third quarter. After that, Henigan found wideout Javon Ivory for a 27 yard touchdown strike that expanded the lead to 20-10.
Following a 3 and out on the next SMU possession, the Tigers turned a 4th and 2 play into a touchdown on the most clever of all trick plays. Henigan lined up under center, yet running back Rodgriues Clark received the snap and hurled a touchdown to tight end Sean Dykes. This play expanded the lead to 28-10, but SMU showed their determination and grit by rallying back into the contest.
Mustangs quarterback Tanner Mordecai, who finished up the contest with 262 passing yards and a touchdown, quickly marched his troops down the field. Despite being pressured constantly by a swarming Tigers defense, Mordecai was determined to bring his back into the contest.
SMU started by scoring a touchdown in the early portion of the 4th quarter and also converted the 2-point conversion attempt to slice the deficit to 28-18. Following a quick Memphis possession, Mordecai then slung a touchdown pass to Danny Gray that made the contest a 3 point game.
However, despite getting the ball back with a chance to tie or win, Mordecai was intercepted by Tigers safety Rodney Owens, thus sealing the win.
Tiger head coach Ryan Silverfield stuck to the process and kept his team focused despite squandering a large lead. He was relieved at the outcome.
“If we continue to do things the way we do, and if we stick to what we do, we will ultimately have success.”
DH Postgame Notes:
Memphis’s defense, which faced countless amounts of criticism the entire season, held SMU to its lowest scoring output and passing yardage total of the entire season.
SMU also had given up five total sacks the entire season coming into today’s contest, but surrendered 3 alone today to the Tigers defense.
11 different Tigers caught a pass from Seth Henigan, the most receivers the freshman signal caller has found in any game this season.
The Tiger defense celebrates after Rodney Owens' game-sealing interception against SMU Saturday morning.