The Memphis Tigers secured their annual victory over FCS competition Saturday afternoon at the Liberty Bowl with a drubbing of Stephen F. Austin. (SFA replaced UT-Martin on the U of M schedule when the latter canceled its visit to the Liberty Bowl amid coronavirus concerns before the season.) The game featured a degree of tension for the small home crowd, as the Tigers' lead was merely six points (20-14) late in the third quarter. But Memphis scored five touchdowns over the game's final 18 minutes to extend its home winning streak to 14 games, a record for the program's 56 years at the Liberty Bowl. Among current home winning streaks, the Tigers' is the fifth-longest in the country. Memphis improved to 5-2 for the season while SFA's six-game winning streak ended, dropping the Lumberjacks' record to 6-4.
The Lumberjacks' Brevin Randle picked off a Brady White
pass and returned it 30 yards early in the second quarter to cut an early 14-0 Tiger lead in half. SFA scored again in the final minute before halftime — a seven-yard pass from Trae Self to Xavier Gipson — to make the score 20-14, Tigers, at halftime.
White snuck the ball in from a yard out with 2:55 to play in the third quarter and with a two-point conversion, Memphis led 28-14. Less than two minutes later, Calvin Austin
returned a punt 64 yards to essentially put the game out of reach. Asa Martin
(six yards), Marquavius Weaver
(four yards), and Tim Taylor
(47 yards) each had fourth-quarter touchdown runs to give Memphis its largest margin of victory this season.
White completed 18 of 31 passes for 269 yards and established a new Tiger record with his 82nd career touchdown pass, a 48-yard connection with Tahj Washington in the first quarter. (White now needs 293 yards to become the second Memphis quarterback to top 10,000 yards for his career.)
rushed for 100 yards on 11 carries to lead a Tiger ground attack that put up a total of 305 yards. Weaver added 94 yards on eight carries. Austin caught a total of 10 passes for 173 yards and now has 820 yards for the season.
The Memphis defense held the Lumberjacks to 55 yards on the ground and a total of 224 for the game.
The Tigers' three remaining regular-season games have all been rescheduled since the opener in September. Memphis plays at Navy next Saturday, at Tulane on December 5th, and hosts Houston on December 12th. Two more wins would give Memphis seven victories in seven consecutive seasons, an unprecedented stretch in the program's 108-year history.