For one quarter, the University of Memphis Tiger football team looked unstoppable.
For the rest of the game, they looked like their old selves.
The Tigers (2-1) scored on three of their first four possessions, taking a 17-0 first-quarter lead over the South Florida Bulls (1-2) on the strength of a three-yard TD reception from QB Travis Anglin to running back Sugar Sanders, a 45-yard FG by kicker Ryan White, and a one-yard TD run by running back Dante Brown.
And that was it.
In the second quarter, the Tigers inversely echoed their offensive output by turning the ball over three out of their next four possessions. The Tigers had to rely then on both a stiff defense as well as a combination of South Florida turnovers and penalties to hold on for a 17-9 victory.
Anglin once again turned in a solid all-purpose performance, throwing 12 times with nine completions for 94 yards and his TD pass to Sanders. Anglin also ran the ball 10 times for 49 yards and even caught one reception during a trick play reverse that resulted in a 45-yard gain. Anglin would later leave the game to get X-rays of an injured throwing shoulder. His status was unknown at the time of this writing.
Backup QB Neil Suber finished the game for the Tigers, throwing five completions on seven attempts for 25 yards and an interception. Suber also ran the ball eight times for 15 yards.
Running back Dante Brown provided ground support, rushing 17 times for 79 yards and his one TD. Brown also received two passes for 37 yards.
The Bulls scored nine unanswered points on a 15-yard fumble recovery run for a touchdown by Bulls defensive end Shurron Pierson at the end of the first half and then on a 27-yard FG by Bulls kicker Santiago Gramatica.
Characteristic of their win over Pittsburgh two weeks ago, the Bulls looked to the air for their offense. Bulls QB Marquel Blackwell threw 61 times but for only 25 completions. Blackwell did, however, toss the ball for 276 yards. The Tigers secondary gave Blackwell fits all day, intercepting three of his passes and not allowing a passing touchdown all day. In the most critical series of plays of the night, the Bulls marched the ball down the field from their own 11 yard line with only 1:06 left on the clock. Eighty-seven yards and only one minute, five seconds later, the Bulls found themselves on the Tiger 2 with only a second left. However, Blackwell could still not find wide receiver Huey Whitaker as time expired on yet another missed pass.
The Bulls also had some success running the ball as they amassed 124 yards on 23 carries.
However, where the Bulls hurt themselves the most was in their penalties, amassing 13 yellow flags for 93 yards. Two of those penalties called back Bulls TD scores.
The Tigers travel to Kentucky next week to face CUSA champ Louisville at Louisville on Saturday, September 29th, at 2 p.m.