Recap of Memphis Game

The possession battle raged on at The Liberty Bowl on Saturday, as the Houston Cougars came away with a 28-24 victory over the Memphis Tigers. This win marked the 400th win in program history, and the first conference-win of the season.

During Houston’s first possession of the game, starting quarterback Greg Ward Jr. threw a pick, intercepted by Fritz Etienne.


The Tigers were not able to capitalize on the possession due to Jake Elliott’s 44-yard missed field goal attempt.


Memphis quarterback, Paxton Lynch connected with Tevin Jones for an 18-yard touchdown pass for a 7-0 lead.


Kyle Bullard followed Elliott’s lead by missing his first field goal of his career with a 31-yard attempt, ruining his perfect field goal record.


At the start of the second quarter, Lynch rushed for six yards for another Memphis touchdown improving to a 14-0 lead over the Cougars.


Ward Jr. saw a window of opportunity for an elusive 64-yard touchdown run, starting the momentum for the Houston offense and shifting the score to 14-7. 


On the next Memphis possession, Lee Hightower intercepted Lynch’s first pick of the game.


The Cougars capitalized on the turnover with Kenneth Farrow’s rush for two yards into the end zone, tying up the game 14-14.


Jeremiah Farley recovered the fumble by Lynch on the next Memphis possession. The Tigers were not ready to give up the ball as Tank Jakes forced and recovered the fumble by Ward Jr. after a 9-yard rush.


The turnover battle continued as Lynch threw his second pick of the game, intercepted by Efrem Oliphant and returned for five yards.


Lynch continued to struggle against The Third Ward D, as Joey Mbu sacked him for a loss of one yard.


Ward Jr. was also sacked on the last Houston possession of the half, for a loss of five yards by Dillon Jackson.


Before the end of the half, Lynch connected with Daniel Montiel for a 20-yard touchdown pass taking it to a 21-14 Memphis lead.


“…We made some adjustment at half time,” Coach Tony Levine said. “The thing we talked about going into this game was turnovers and against a very, very good Memphis team certainly on offense.”


Terry Redden and Charles Harris sacked Ward Jr., forcing the Cougars to punt the ball on the first Houston possession of the third quarter.


Ryan Jackson managed to tie up the game once again 21-21, with a three-yard rush for a touchdown.


The Cougars got off to a quick start in the final quarter of the game with a 25-yard touchdown pass from Ward Jr. to Markeith Ambles. Houston took the lead 28-21 for the first time during the matchup.


Steven Taylor sacked Lynch for a loss of 10 yards. The Tigers were able to get into field goal range for a successful 31-yard attempt by Elliott, now trailing the Cougars by only four points.


With only 02:50 left on the clock, Houston gained possession once again as William Jackson forced and recovered the fumble by Jones.


During the last Memphis possession, Lynch threw his third pick of the game. The pass was intercepted by Oliphant for the second time and returned for 18 yards, sealing the fate of the Tigers as they fell to the Cougars.  


Oliphant has recorded double-digit tackles in all six matchups this season, and in 15 games total during his career.


“I think through five games Memphis only turned the ball over 5 times. We created 5 in tonight’s game. We won the turnover battle,” Levine said. “We talked about penalties. We were averaging 9 to 10 penalties a game tonight we only had 3. We felt if we got good special teams and field position even if we had to punt our defense could give us a chance.”


The Cougars have now recorded at least one turnover in 29 consecutive games.

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