Saturday, October 3, 2020

SMU 30, #25 Tigers 27

Posted By on Sat, Oct 3, 2020 at 6:38 PM

What a difference 336 days make. Especially the last 28.

Eleven months after beating SMU in one of the most scintillating games in the program's history, the Memphis Tigers took the field in Dallas for the rematch . . . their first game in four weeks due to a Covid-19 outbreak that shut down operations for much of September. Playing in front of a small, scattered audience in Gerald J. Ford Stadium, the Tigers erased a 21-point deficit with a scoring frenzy that bridged the second and third quarters. But shortly after a fumble by Tiger quarterback Brady White gave the Mustangs possession, SMU kicker Chris Naggar drilled a 43-yard field goal to help his team improve to 4-0 for the season and end a six-game losing streak to Memphis. The Tigers are now 1-1 (0-1 in the American Athletic Conference) and will have another semi-extended break before hosting UCF at the Liberty Bowl on October 17th.
click to enlarge Marquavius Weaver takes a handoff from Brady White. - U OF M ATHLETICS
  • U of M Athletics
  • Marquavius Weaver takes a handoff from Brady White.

SMU won despite losing a pair of impact offensive players. Running back T.J. McDaniel had to be helped off the field after violently twisting his lower left leg on the Mustangs' first play from scrimmage. Then late in the third quarter — after making a lengthy pass reception — senior receiver Reggie Roberson left the game on a cart after injuring his left knee. Roberson's play was decisive, though, as he scored on plays that covered 70 and 85 yards on his way to 243 yards for the game.

Down 24-3 after Roberson's second touchdown, the Tigers began their climb back with a White-to-Calvin Austin touchdown pass covering eight yards midway through the second quarter. White found Sean Dykes for a touchdown less than four minutes later and senior kicker Riley Patterson connected on a 56-yard field goal on the last play before halftime to make the score 24-20, SMU, at the break.

Naggar connected on a 25-yard field goal early in the third quarter, but Memphis answered with a 92-yard drive, capped by a five-yard touchdown pass from White to freshman Tahj Washington. The score remained tied for the remainder of the game, until Naggar's game-winning kick with nine seconds on the clock. The Tigers' three fourth-quarter possessions resulted in two punts and White's fumble.

White completed 29 of 42 passes for 380 yards and three touchdowns, but tossed a pair of interceptions in addition to his late fumble. Dreke Clark gained 98 yards on 16 carries, while Damonte Coxie starred in the passing game, hauling in eight passes for 169 yards. Dykes caught six passes for 85 yards.

Just like their 2019 shootout at the Liberty Bowl — a 54-48 Memphis win that followed ESPN's GameDay presentation from Beale Street — both teams topped 500 yards in total offense (Memphis 585, SMU 549). The Tiger defense allowed 474 of those yards through the air.

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