Saturday, September 19, 2015

Tigers 44, Bowling Green 41

Posted By on Sat, Sep 19, 2015 at 6:12 PM

In a game that saw two teams combine for 85 points and 1,124 yards of offense, the Memphis Tigers scored last — on a 29-yard field goal by Jake Elliott — to secure the program's first 3-0 start in 11 years and the first 10-game winning streak (dating back to the 2014 season) in more than 50. Junior quarterback Paxton Lynch completed 29 of 40 passes for 386 yards and three touchdowns (and no interceptions). Lynch's heroics were just enough to offset those of his Bowling Green counterpart, Matt Johnson, who completed 28 of 44 attempts for 447 yards and four touchdowns, three of them to Roger Lewis who hauled in a total of seven passes for 261 yards.

The Tigers have now scored at least 40 points in five straight games, a first for the program.
click to enlarge Paxton Lynch - LARRY KUZNIEWSKI
  • Larry Kuzniewski
  • Paxton Lynch

Lewis caught the first of his three lengthy touchdown passes with just 1:16 expired in the first quarter, setting the tone for an afternoon in Ohio that left two defenses winded and weary. A Lynch pass to reserve tight end Daniel Montiel gave the Tigers a 17-14 lead with 9:40 to play in the second quarter, but Johnson scored seven minutes later to regain the lead for Bowling Green. The Falcons would not trail again until Elliott's game-winning kick.

Memphis tied the game three times after halftime, trading touchdown drives with the Falcons. Sam Craft ran for a three-yard score with 5:15 left in the third (after a 32-yard completion from Lynch to Tevin Jones on fourth down) to even things at 27. After Lewis countered with a 94-yard touchdown reception, Craft took a midrange pass from Lynch and ran 60 yards to again tie the game (34-34). Early in the fourth quarter, Lewis caught a 62-yard strike from Johnson to give Bowling Green a 41-34 lead, which merely set up the play of the game.

With just under 12 minutes left on the clock and the ball at the Falcon 48-yard line, Tiger coach Justin Fuente called a double-reverse flea-flicker — a play in which four players touch the ball, one of them twice — and Lynch found Jones across the middle for the Tigers' fifth touchdown of the day.

Amid all the offensive fireworks, the game was actually decided by the Memphis defense, which held the Falcons scoreless on their final three possessions of the game. Junior cornerback Arthur Maulet deflected one final heave from Johnson toward Lewis to clinch the victory with just over a minute left to play.

Doroland Dorceus led the Memphis ground attack with 75 yards on 16 carries (and a touchdown). Jones compiled 98 yards on his three receptions while Mose Frazier caught seven passes for 66 yards.

The last 10-game winning streak for the Memphis program began with Dwight D. Eisenhower in the White House (in 1960) and ended with John F. Kennedy in the oval office a year later. The Tigers will have a chance to extend the country's third-longest winning streak next Thursday when Cincinnati comes to town for the U of M's first American Athletic Conference clash of the season. The Bearcats improved to 2-1 Saturday with a 37-33 win at Miami-Ohio.

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