With Memphis pro wrestling legend Jerry “The King” Lawler in attendance, the Tigers football team had a chance to dethrone the AAC King, but failed to produce enough to defeat Tulane.
The Tigers (4-2, 1-1 AAC) led by double digits in the second half but ultimately lost 31-21 on Friday night in front of 35,609 fans at Simmons Bank Liberty Stadium.
Just like two weeks ago against Boise State, it took more than a quarter of the Memphis offense to get going. The Tigers trailed 10-0 but fought back to lead 14-10 at halftime.
They extended their lead to 21-10, but it was Tulane’s turn to turn the tables. The Green Wave went on a 21-0 run to take a lead they never relinquished and deny Memphis head coach Ryan Silverfield a signature win.
Memphis struggled in a run game
Tulane (5-1, 2-0) went on a 10-0 run as the Tigers’ offense was ineffective, but they fought back with a pass to quarterback Seth Henigan Koby Drake’s touchdown pass gave them a 21-10 lead midway through the third quarter and they should have taken complete control of the game.
But Tulane responded with a 21-0 run as its offense began to benefit from an uneven time of possession and wore down the Memphis defense.
The Green Wave had the ball for more than 35 minutes, with running back Makhi Hughes rushing for 130 yards and a touchdown on 26 carries.
Seth Henigan excels against AAC’s top quarterbacks
Hennigan got off to a rough start in the game, but turned things around and powered Memphis’ offense for much of the game. The running game is non-existent against Tulane’s elite rushing defense, so it’s up to the third-year quarterback. He completed 24 of 43 passes for 321 yards and three touchdowns. But he also threw two interceptions.
Tulane’s Michael Pratt, considered the top quarterback in the AAC, completed 19 of 31 for 259 yards and a touchdown. He came out active in the second half and rushed for a touchdown late in the third quarter.
Memphis’ offense looks familiar
The Tigers gained just 29 yards on their first four drives and only had one first down. Hennigan accomplished nothing, going 1-for-9 in his first start, with the only completion being a wild catch from Derek. The slow start echoes a trend this season.
Just like the game against Boise State, it was Rock Taylor’s catch that finally woke up the offense. His 21-yard catch-and-run sparked an 89-yard drive capped by Demeer Blankumsee’s 17-yard touchdown reception.
Memphis defense rose to the challenge early
When the offense struggled, the Tigers defense kept them in the game. Tulane’s offense moved the ball on just one of its first four possessions, while Memphis came up with two key first-half interceptions in its own territory.
The Green Wave made 14 consecutive possessions, the defense bent but was not broken, and scored on a field goal midway through the second quarter. Duran’s next pass to the Memphis 23 failed on fourth down, giving the Tigers the halftime lead.
Next?two straight races
Memphis will face UAB (2-4, 1-1) and North Texas (2-3, 0-1) on the road.
Contact sports writer Jonah Dylan at [email protected] or on Twitter @thejonahdylan.