(Saturday, September 21)
Final Score: Memphis 31, Arkansas State 7
Memphis, TN (Sports Network) - Marquis Warford ran for 173 yards and a score to lead the Memphis Tigers over the Arkansas State Red Wolves, 31-7, in a non- conference matchup at Liberty Bowl Memorial Stadium.
Brandon Hayes added 114 yards on 18 carries and a score for the Tigers (1-2), while Paxton Lynch threw for 176 yards on 17-of-26 passing and a touchdown.
Adam Kennedy threw for just 166 yards, completing 20-of-37 with no touchdowns and one interception for the Red Wolves (2-2). David Oku was the team's leading rusher with only 45 yards on 12 carries. Julian Jones pulled down six receptions for 59 yards in the loss.
The Tigers marched down the field on their opening drive, going 77 yards in seven plays in just under three minutes, capped off with Hayes running it in from six yards out for the score. After the Memphis' defense sacked Kennedy twice on the Red Wolves' opening drive to force a punt, the Memphis offense took the field and again scored a touchdown. A five play, 36-yard drive was finished with a six-yard pass from Lynch to Alan Cross on 4th-and-1, giving the Tigers the early 14-0 lead. The Tigers were set up in excellent field position for that score by a 31-yard punt return to the ASU 36-yard line by Keiwone Malone.
The Red Wolves finally got on the scoreboard on the next series with an unusual play. Fredi Knighten took the hand off from Kennedy and threw a screen pass on the run to J.D. McKissic who took it in from 15 yards out to cut the Memphis lead in half at 14-7.with just over five minutes left in the first quarter. That drive went 59 yards on six plays in just 1:28, the big play coming on a 22-yard pass by Kennedy to Julian Jones on the second play of the drive.
Early in the second quarter, after moving 79 yards to the ASU 7-yard line, Memphis stalled and had to settle for a 23-yard field goal by Jake Elliot to up their lead to 17-7 with 9:52 remaining in the half. The Tigers continued to press and tacked on another score, this time with a four-play drive that was again set up by another big punt return by Malone, this one a 28-yarder putting his Tigers at the Red Wolves' 34-yard line. Four plays later, Sam Craft rushed it in from five yards out to give the home team a 24-7 lead late in the first half.
After intercepting Kennedy, the Tigers' offense drove the field 63 yards, getting all the way to the ASU one-yard line, where they were stopped by the Red Wolves on a fourth and goal at the one with just over a minute to play in the half. That stop allowed the Red Wolves to go into halftime down 24-7.
Both teams struggled to move the ball in the third quarter until late, when Memphis went down the field 69 yards in eight plays ending in a touchdown, this one a Warford run for 16 yards to give the Tigers a 31-7 lead with 2:15 remaining in the third quarter. Both teams went scoreless in the fourth quarter. Memphis threatened late in the game, but Warford fumbled in the red zone after a 52-yard drive to the ASU 17.
The Memphis defense had a monster game, tying a school record with seven sacks, while holding ASU to just 255 yards of total offense. The Tigers finished with 505 yards of total offense, its first outing with 500 or more yards of offense since facing Southern Miss in 2008. Memphis rushed for a total of 329 yards in the game, the most since having 379 yards on the ground against Tulane in 2008.
09/21 21:01:40 ET