NEW ORLEANS -- The University of Memphis closed out the 2000 football season with a whimper, bowing to Tulane 37-14 Saturday night in the Superdome. It was the final game of head coach Rip Scherers six-year career at Memphis. School officials will announce a coaching change soon, perhaps as early as today. Tulanes one-sided victory made the decision to relieve Scherer easier for athletic director R.C. Johnson.
Memphis played a lifeless first half. Even the vaunted Tiger defense seemed a step slow and the offense was inept as usual. Against a Tulane team giving up more than 419 yard per game, Memphis could muster only 72 yards in the half and just 11 in the second quarter. Meanwhile Tulane was piling up 266 yards, 205 in the air. Memphis had 8 penalties for 71 yards and committed two turnovers. The 17-0 deficit was the largest of the season for Memphis.
Idrees Bashir got the Tigers on the scoreboard midway through the third quarter, returning a fumble 66 yards for a touchdown. The fumble was forced by Tony Brown. It was the second longest fumble return for touchdown in school history. The touchdown made the score 17-7 and gave the Tigers their first spark of the game.
But the next Memphis drive was stopped when Scherer fumbled while being sacked. The Green Wave built the lead back to 17 moments later when Adrian Burnette hauled in his third touchdown pass from Patrick Ramsey, making the score 14-7 with 4:54 to go in the third quarter. A minute later the Green Wave put the game out of reach when safety Quentin Brown ran a Scherer interception back 48 yards for a 31-7 lead.
It was the first time this season in which Memphis had not been competitive. While the Tigers were playing for pride, Tulane became the sixth Conference USA team to become bowl eligible with the victory. The league has four bowl slots available. Tulane dominated the statistics, outgaining Memphis 483 yards to 301. Green Wave quarterback Patrick Ramsey had a great game hitting 29 of 56 for 360 yards and three touchdowns.
Im really sorry the way this thing ended, Rip Scherer said after the game, the Tigers fifth consecutive loss. We kept snapping back ten times, but we didnt snap back quite the way we had the other ten.
Scherer said the defense was on the field entirely too long (70 plays in the first half. You just cant leave any defense out there that long, he said.
I have no way of knowing that. It is a question I cannot answer, Scherer said when asked if he thought he would be back for a seventh season. To be honest with you it will be a relief whenever it comes to an end, one way or another.
SCORE BY QUARTERS
MEMPHIS 0 0 7 7 (14)
TULANE 3 14 17 3 (37)
After turning the ball over seven times in their last game, Memphis had six turnovers vs. Tulane. Quarterbacks Neil Suber
and Scott Scherer
both suffered interceptions while Scherer, tailback Dernice Wherry
and tight end Billy Kendall
had fumbles. . . . Suber made his first appearance since injuring a shoulder in the Southern Miss game six weeks ago. Suber replaced Scherer in the second quarter. . . . The game was hardly a hard ticket in New Orleans. A former Memphian approached a scalper outside the Superdome and asked how much he wanted for a ticket. Oh, just buy me a beer when you get inside, replied the man. The attendance was announced as 17,259, probably close the 1,000 Tiger fans made the trip. . . . Despite a contingent of Tulane supporters who sang and cheered throughout the game, it was mostly a sterile atmosphere in the cavernous arena, as artifical as the plastic Superdome turf. In the absence of a band, Tulane piped in marching-band music. The Memphis band, The Mighty Sound of the South
made the trip and performed at halftime. They showed more vitality than the team they came to support. . . . Tigers wore all white uniforms for the first time this year. . . . Darren Garcia
a speedy freshman receiver from Millington Central had his first kickoff return in the first quarter. He returned it 33 yards.
(You can write Dennis Freeland at firstname.lastname@example.org