In a losing effort against the University of Alabama-Birmingham, Memphis watched its 2001 bowl hopes slip away as Ryan Whites 41 yard field goal attempt was blocked.
The play highlighted an afternoon of lost opportunities and inspired UAB defensive efforts as the Tigers lost to the Blazers, 17-14. This hurts, Memphis coach Tommy West said after the game. This hurts bad. We put everything we had into this.
But that just wasnt enough. There comes a time in any game, especially the big ones, when you have to make some plays and we made some plays down the stretch. You couldnt have scripted a better fourth quarter, but we couldnt knock it in and get the touchdown offensively, West said. We didnt do things at the end that we had to do to win the ballgame.
Memphis offense just had no gas this day with running back Dante Brown struggling against UABs rush defense. Brown compiled only 55 yards on 20 carries. He would run in a Memphis touchdown in the first half.
Passing, Memphis first and second options at quarterback, Danny Wimprine and Travis Anglin, fared worse. Wimprine threw 19 times with only 7 completions and 2 interceptions. Anglin did not complete a pass, and ran for Ð2 yards. However, the poor performance by the first and second strings allowed fifth year senior quarterback Neil Suber to take center stage. Suber put together an impressive 11-18 passing performance, accumulating 93 yards and a touchdown in the fourth quarter to Memphis tight end Jeff Cameron. The effort at least gave the Memphis offense a chance for the last minute field goal.
Ive been saying that Neil would get his shot, West said. I think he did a nice job of looking off their defenders. If you stare down their defenders, then theyre going that way. He stared them down and turned on his back side to find receivers and just delivered the ball.
Amassing a hundred yards less in offense, UAB relied on the running and passing of quarterback Thomas Cox. Cox, a second stringer starting in the place of injured UAB starter Jeff Aaron threw the ball 19 times for six completions and 50 yards but also ran the ball for a total of 43 yards and a touchdown from two yards out. Also rushing the ball for UAB was running back Jegil Dugger who ran 19 times for 61 yards. UAB running back Kendal Gibson ran for only 10 yards for the game. But two of those yards were enough for UABs other rushing touchdown. UABs field goal came from kicker Neil Hayes from 48 yards out.
The loss puts Memphis at 4-4 overall and 2-3 in C-USA standings. Next week is a bye for the Tigers before they travel to the University of Tennessee, Knoxville on November 10. We need it, West said of the bye. I dont know if physically we are all that banged up, but emotionally we need the time off.