The Memphis Tigers fell short in their prime-time matchup versus conference foe Tulane 31-21. The Tigers started off slow but managed to score 21 unanswered points to erase a 10-point deficit. Although, Tulane erased an 11-point deficit with 21 unanswered of their own to finish the game.
Memphis quarterback Seth Henigan went 24-43 with 321 yards, 3 touchdowns and 2 interceptions. Demeer Blankumsee and Roc Taylor each caught 108 receiving yards in the game, Blankumsee caught a touchdown as well. Joe Scates and Koby Drake also caught for a touchdown each in the game.
It looked as if Memphis would truly bounce back from the slow start especially since Tulane shut down the high-octane Memphis rushing attack. However, the second half came around and the Memphis defense had no answer for Tulane
Going into the game, it was obvious that the matchup played a significant role in the AAC standings with both teams being favorites to win the conference. With the result, Memphis drops to 1-1 in the AAC and Tulane goes up 2-0.
First Half Bounce Back
The atmosphere and energy were there for Memphis on wrestling night with appearances from WWE Hall-of-Famer Jerry "The King" Lawler and current Pittsburgh Steeler Calvin Austin III. Simmons Bank Liberty Stadium recorded a season-high attendance of 35,609 with the Memphis Ambush bringing the noise.
The start of the game for the Tigers vs Green Wave started slow. At the beginning of the game, the Memphis defense came up strong as they were able to get back-to-back three and outs on the Tulane offense.
With the Memphis defense coming out strong, it wasn’t much of the same for the offense. In the beginning, the offense for the Tigers struggled as quarterback Seth Henigan started 1 for 10 through his first 10 passes and threw an interception as well. The run game also was not a factor as Memphis running back Blake Watson only rushed for 4 carries with 12 yards in the first half.
In the 1st half, Tulane started rocky but picked it up on their third possession as they scored the first points of the game. Running back Makhi Hughes scored a 2-yard rushing touchdown giving Tulane the lead 7-0. The Tulane offense continued to gain momentum as they scored a field goal early in the 2nd quarter putting the score 10-0.
After the field goal, the Memphis offense began to drive down the field. Seth Henigan found wide receiver Demeer Blankumsee in the endzone to cut the deficit to 10-7. That touchdown pass put Henigan at 4th on Memphis' career passing list, surpassing former Tiger Riley Ferguson.
The Tigers' momentum continued as Seth Henigan hit wide receiver Joseph Scates for a 28-yard passing touchdown to give Memphis a 14-10 lead at halftime.
Momentum Switch in the Second Half
At the start of the second half, Memphis came out very strong in the 3rd quarter. The Tigers were able to march down the field as Seth Henigan threw his 3rd touchdown of the game to wide receiver Koby Drake giving Memphis a 21-10 lead.
Since starting 1-10, Henigan went 13-18 with 213 passing yards and three touchdowns. With the pressure on Tulane down 11, The Green Wave did not back down.
The Green Wave got in the endzone in the middle of the 3rd quarter as quarterback Michael Pritt rushed in for a 1-yard touchdown to put the score at 21-17. Tulane continued to gain momentum as wide receiver Yulkeith Brown reached the endzone with a 9-yard rushing touchdown giving them the lead 24-21 to start the 4th quarter.
The Memphis offense needed a response, but things did not go as planned as Seth Henigan threw his 2nd pick of the game. After the interception, Michael Pratt threw his 2nd touchdown of the game to Lawrence Keys III to push the lead to 31-21.
As the game continued, the Memphis offense struggled as they were forced to punt. The Memphis defense needed a quick stop but self-inflicted wounds kept them on the field.
From not stopping third downs to a flagrant personal foul by Andres Fox, who was ejected, the defense could not get off the field quickly as Tulane continued to run the clock.
The Memphis offense could not find their stride as the game was coming to an end and Tulane finished the game off with a 31-21 victory against the Tigers.
Memphis will look forward to next week's road matchup versus UAB. Kickoff is set for Saturday at 11 AM CT on ESPN2.