In what is probably Rip Scherers last home game at the University of Memphis, the Tigers lost to Cincinnati 13-10 in overtime. It was Memphis fourth consecutive loss. Two of the four went to overtime. The average margin of victory in the four games was a field goal -- three points.
The game, which was played in front of 21,862 at the Liberty Bowl, ensured Memphis will have a sixth straight losing season under Scherer. That hasnt happened at the school since 1922.
Scherer alluded to the uncertainty of his job both to the team and to reporters after the game. We dont know what the future holds. All we know is weve got one game to play, Scherer said. You dont have to be a genius to figure that out.
Once again the Memphis defense did a tremendous job, holding Cincinnati to 190 yards and no touchdowns. The only Bearcat touchdown came in the first quarter on a 82-yard fumble return. Memphis squandered numerous opportunities to score in the first half and went into the locker room at halftime trailing 7-3. Four first half turnovers came inside Cincinnati territory, including a fumble at the 18 and another at the goal line.
The Tigers had seven turnovers in the game, including one on the last play of the game, a Scott Scherer interception in the first overtime. Jonathan Ruffin kicked a 37-yard field goal on the Bearcats first overtime possession.
I respect Scott because he was playing with more pressure than anyone out there, Scherer said of his son. Everybody out there is playing to win. Hes playing to win and fighting for his dads job. Thats a lot of pressure for a 21-year-old kid.
Memphis had its biggest offensive production of the season against the porous Bearcat defense. Scott Scherer completed 20 of 32 passes for 203 yards. Tailback Sugar Sanders ran 21 times for 122 yards. Ryan Johnson had 73 yards on six receptions and added 92 yards on three punt returns. He set up Memphis only touchdown with an 82-yard punt return to the one-yard line late in the third quarter. Sanders ran it in to put Memphis ahead 10-7. Ruffin kicked a field goal from 30 yards out with 10 minutes to tie the game.
Memphis chose to play for overtime late in the fourth quarter when they got the ball on their own 19 with 1:21 and all three time outs left. The crowd booed when Memphis ran the ball and did not call timeout.
We didnt want to do anything dumb, Scherer explained. I didnt think they could score a touchdown in overtime. We wanted to make sure that we got it into overtime, that we didnt make a mistake that took away our opportunity to go into overtime.
Memphis (4-6) closes out the season next week at New Orleans against Tulane. An announcement about Scherers future could come before then, perhaps as early as Monday.
(You can write Dennis Freeland at firstname.lastname@example.org