The Memphis Tigers improved to 4-1 on the season after a 35-32 comeback win versus Boise State on Saturday. The Tigers bounced from the loss to Missouri greatly in front of the 30,000 fans at Simmons Bank Liberty Stadium.
First Half Struggles
In the beginning, the Tigers started off very slow as they didn’t do much on offense and defense. The first score of the game came from Boise State, who capitalized off great field position to go up 3-0. It would have been a touchdown, but was saved when safety Simeon Blair laid a big hit on Boise State causing a dropped pass in the endzone.
The following drive Memphis displayed a good series, until the Tigers were stuffed on a 4th and 1 on the Boise State 30. From there, the first quarter ended with Boise State up 3-0.
The Broncos got it going with a 59-yard reception by tight end Matt Lauter, the longest reception by a Boise State tight end since 2001. Boise State ended the drive with seven thanks to an 8-yard touchdown run from Ashton Jeanty to put them up 10-0.
After another lackluster Memphis drive, the Broncos went right back to work. Starting on their own 39, they went to their 6’4 200-pound receiver Erik McAlister. McAlister would also draw a penalty to set up Jeanty for his 2nd touchdown of the day, this time from 1 yard out to put them up 17-0.
Memphis would start to put it together after big plays from the connection of Seth Henigan and Roc Taylor. Henigan would connect with Taylor on a 53 yard pass, then once again on a pass for 19 yards to bring the Tigers within 10.
After a great defensive stop, Henigan would scramble on multiple occasions including a 29 yard rush to get into Boise State territory. Transfer runningback Blake Watson would proceed to punch it in making it 17-14 pulling the tigers even closer going into halftime.
Second Half Intensity
The 2nd half started off to a slow start for both teams as they didn’t score to start the half but changed as the game progressed. With 1:57 remaining in the third quarter, linebacker Geoffrey Cantin-Arku with the biggest play of the game would block a field goal attempt returning it 80 yards for a touchdown. The return gave Memphis their first lead of the game with a 21-17 score.
This shifted the momentum back to the Tigers and led to another scoring drive from Memphis. Demeer Blankumsee hauled in a 59-yard touchdown reception from Henigan, a beautiful play that put the Tigers up 28-17. The Broncos would not quit, as on the following drive, Ashton Jeanty caught a 15-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Maddux Madsen. The touchdown was Jeanty's third of the game.
With 8:54 remaining, Memphis received the ball and drove it down the field for a touchdown for over six minutes. Blake Watson ran it in from a yard for his second touchdown to put Memphis up 35-25. The touchdown took a lenghty review as replay showed that Watson lost the ball close to the goal line. However, officials called it a touchdown after replay could not provide enough conclusive evidence.
With 2:16 remaining and the Tigers up 10, Boise State needed to move the ball quickly. The Broncos drove down the field and Ashton Jeanty scored his fourth touchdown of the game with 39 seconds remaining. Boise State attempted the onside kick and Colby Cox recovered it for Memphis to seal the deal.
The star of this game was Blake Watson as he rushed for 117 yards on 19 attempts, and 2 touchdowns. Roc Taylor added 5 catches for 102 yards and a touchdown. The two were the first pair to have 100 yards rushing and receiving for Memphis in the same game since 2021.
Seth Henigan went 18-for-28 for 269 passing yards and two touchdown. Henigan also rushed for 67 yards on the ground. Chandler Martin led the team in tackles with nine and Geoffrey Cantin-Arku scored the only defensive touchdown of the game.
Memphis showed great perseverance in this game as they fought back from a 17-0 deficit. Seth Henigan showed potential that he can be a game manager that the team needs.
The Tigers go into a much needed bye week with a 4-1 record and a bounce back win from the loss to Missouri. Memphis will stay home and face off against reigning AAC Champions Tulane on October 13th at 6 p.m. The Friday night matchup will be shown on ESPN.