The Memphis Tigers erased a 13-point deficit in the final five minutes of their game Saturday at the Liberty Bowl to beat the USF Bulls and earn their 13th-straight home win, a record in the stadium where they've played since 1965. Tiger quarterback Brady White
threw four touchdown passes — including the game-winner to Calvin Austin
with just over a minute to play – to tie Danny Wimprine's career record (81) and set a new mark for wins by a Memphis quarterback (24). The victory improves the Tigers' record to 4-2 (3-2 in the American Athletic Conference) while USF falls to 1-6 (0-5).
Playing in front of a pandemic-reduced crowd of just over 10,000, the Tigers struggled throughout the first half, with three series ending on downs and USF's Daquan Evans returning an interception of White 51 yards for an early 13-6 Bulls lead. The only Memphis touchdown before halftime came on a White-to-Austin 65-yard pass connection. But USF scored touchdowns on each of its next two possessions to take a 27-13 lead at the break.
White found tight end Sean Dykes
for a five-yard touchdown strike on the Tigers' first possession of the third quarter to reduce the USF lead to 27-20, but the U of M's next two possessions ended with punts. A Spencer Shrader field goal (his fourth of the game) from 46 yards gave USF a 33-20 lead with just 4:36 left in the game.
Memphis marched 72 yards in just over a minute and reduced the deficit to 33-27 when White connected with Dykes again, this time from 10 yards with 3:19 left on the clock. A maligned Memphis defense then managed to stop the Bulls, forcing a punt that set up what proved to be the game-winning drive. White completed six straight passes (after an incompletion) to complete the comeback, finding Kylan Watkins
(three times), Tahj Washington
, and Kameron Wilson
before hitting Austin for the decisive score.
White completed 30 of 50 passes for 437 yards, his favorite target being Dykes (7 catches for 147 yards). Austin caught five passes for 102 yards.
The Memphis defense held USF to 330 yards, considerably lower than the average for Tiger opponents this season. Memphis gained a total of 535 yards.
The Tigers are scheduled to travel to Annapolis, Maryland, next week to face Navy. (The Midshipmen are 3-4 and had their game against Tulsa today postponed because of Covid cases at the Naval Academy.) Memphis returns to the Liberty Bowl on November 21st when Stephen F. Austin comes to town.