The Memphis Tigers defeated the South Florida Bulls 59-50 as they improved to 7-2 overall and 4-1 in the AAC.
The score is the highest total for each team this season so far. USF barely won the yardage battle 583-580 but it was Memphis that won the turnover battle 2-0 including three turnovers-on-downs.
"We showed that we are capable of being one of the best defenses in college football. We'll find a way with our coaching staff to get better," stated Coach Ryan Silverfield.
Seth Henigan led the offense with 23 completions for 349 passing yards and 5 total touchdowns (one rushing). Tevin Carter threw 2-for-2 for 92 yards and 1 touchdown in his time of action. Blake Watson rushed 10 carries for 64 yards including a 34-yard touchdown.
Roc Taylor and Demeer Blankumsee led the receiving core with 100+ receiving-yard games once again. Taylor caught 5 passes for 159 yards with two touchdowns and Blankumsee caught six passes for 142 yards. Brendan Doyle caught two touchdowns as well.
First Half Fireworks
The first half was nothing short of a shootout as 30,223 witnessed both teams combine for 63 total points.
The Tigers came out the gate swinging with a touchdown on the first possession as Seth Henigan rolled out for a four-yard rushing touchdown. Henigan accounted for all 76 yards on the first drive with 72 of them through the air.
The Memphis defense forced a fumble on USF's first possession and Henigan found tight end Brendan Doyle for a three-yard touchdown. The Tigers pushed their lead to 14-0 nearly four minutes into the game.
From there, each team went back and forth with touchdowns and red zone appearances.
It looked as if Memphis would go into the half with a 35-21 lead, however, with 34 seconds remaining, USF blocked the punt. The Bulls capitalized seconds later to cut the deficit to 7 as the Tigers led 35-28 at the half.
At the half, Seth Henigan led the Tigers with 19 completions, 304 passing yards, 44 rushing yards, and 5 total touchdowns (one rushing). Demeer Blankumsee totaled 127 yards on five receptions as Brendan Doyle had two touchdowns on two receptions.
USF sophomore quarterback Byrum Brown put up 14 completions with 180 passing yards and three touchdowns through the air. Nay'Quan Wright rushed in the team's only touchdown of the half. Naiem Simmons led USF with two catches for 73 yards and one touchdown.
USF began the second half where they left off as Byrum Brown hit Jaden Alexis for a touchdown to even the score at 35.
After a Tanner Gillis field goal to put Memphis up 38-35, USF retaliated once again driving down the field. Senior running back Kelley Joiner Jr finished the drive with a 9-yard rushing touchdown to give USF its first lead.
With five minutes in the third quarter, Blake Watson got things going with a 34-yard touchdown run to swing the lead back in Memphis' favor. Minutes later, defensive captain Simeon Blair intercepted USF, only for the Tigers to go three-and-out to end the third quarter.
Early in the 4th, Seth Henigan went down with an apparent arm injury but walked off the field. "It was nothing to do with the head area," said Coach Silverfield. "We'll have more answers come Monday's press conference."
On the very next play, backup QB Tevin Carter found Roc Taylor as Taylor broke a tackle and went the distance for an 85-yard touchdown to extend the lead to 52-42.
After two very important fourth-down stops and one coming inside the USF 20-yard line, Memphis failed to capitalize and put the game away. Luckily for Memphis, the third time's a charm as Brandon Thomas iced the game with an 8-yard rushing touchdown as Memphis led 59-42 with 3:20 remaining in the game.
USF made things competitive towards the end as Byrum Brown hit Khafre Brown for a touchdown, and converted on the 2-point conversion to make it 59-50 in favor of Memphis.