Memphis pulls away in second quarter, cruise to 38-10 win over Utah State in First Responder Bowl in Dallas
MUCH BETTER ENDING
DALLAS — University of Memphis coach Ryan Silverfield thoroughly enjoyed his latest visit to Dallas.
So much so that he thanked the entire city while hoisting some brand new hardware for his trophy case.
“I want to thank the city of Dallas and what gracious hosts they have been,” Silverfield said. “It has been a wonderful trip for us and a great way to cap off a season filled with ups and downs.”
Indeed, it was for Silverfield’s Tigers, who proved to be too much to handle against Utah State in the SERVPRO First Responder Bowl at SMU’s Gerald J. Ford Stadium Tuesday.
After going three-and-out on its opening series, Memphis scored on its next four possessions and never took its foot off the gas against Utah State as the Tigers won going away, 38-10.
Memphis got a masterful effort from quarterback Seth Henigan, who threw touchdown passes of 53, 15, and 22 yards in the second quarter to extend the Tigers’ lead to 24-3 at intermission.
Memphis (7-6), which became bowl eligible with a 59-0 win over North Alabama in its next-to-last regular season outing, was never threatened the rest of way against an Aggie team that ended the season on a two-game winless streak.
In Memphis’ previous trip to the Dallas/Fort Worth area in 2019, the then-15th-ranked Tigers were outlasted, 53-39, by then-No. 13 Penn State in the Cotton Bowl Classic at AT&T Stadium, a game in which Silverfield was making his U of M coaching debut after replacing the departed Mike Norvell, who left to fill the head coaching vacancy at Florida State.
This time, however, the results were favorable for Silverhead, whose Tigers controlled virtually every facet of the game against Utah State of the Mountain West Conference.
“It was a great moment for our program,” Silverfield of Memphis’ performance. “I am so proud of our resiliency today and leading up to today. We are going to celebrate this and be proud of the moment. I am proud of our guys and our seniors. That win was for them. Thanks to all of the great fans from the city of Memphis. I am honored to coach this team. There are bright days ahead of us.”
The Tigers amassed 430 yards of total offense, the bulk of which were accumulated by Henigan. The 6-foot-2 sophomore completed 20 of 29 completions for 284 yards and three passing scores.
After Utah State kicker Connor Coles connected on a 53-yard field to tie the game at 3-3 with 12:13 remaining in the second quarter, the Tigers gained control for good when Henigan connected with Eddie Lewis on TD passes of 15 and 22 yards over the next seven minutes to give Memphis a 17-3 lead.
The Tigers increased their lead to 24-3 when Henigan tossed a 3-yard TD to Caden Prieskorn with 24 seconds left in the second, capping a 10-play, 52-yard drive.
Limited to just 261 yards of total offense, Utah State scored its lone touchdown to make it a two-score game when backup quarterback Bishop Davenport connected with Brian Cobbs on a 44-yard TD pass with 11:04 left in the fourth, capping a five-play, 92-yard drive.
Davenport replaced Cobbs, who sustained a leg injury after being sacked for an eight-yard loss by Memphis’ James Stewart on the team’s second series after the break.
Leading 24-10, Memphis effectively put the game out of reach when Jevyon Ducker produced rushing scores of 1 and 48 yards.
Tuesday’s win extended Memphis’ series lead against Utah State to 5-3. The team’s previous meeting took place in 1977, a 31-26 Tiger win at Liberty Bowl Memorial Stadium. — Andre Johnson
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