The Memphis Tigers returned home to Simmons Bank Liberty Stadium after a two-game road trip that included a nail-biting 45-42 victory over new conference member North Texas. Facing a South Florida team hungry for their first bowl game berth since 2018, the Tigers entered this week’s matchup with determination.
In the first quarter, Memphis controlled the game, taking a 21-7 lead. However, the Bulls rallied back, cutting the Tigers’ lead to just seven points at halftime with a score of 35-28. Bulls quarterback Byrum Brown would lead South Florida to three consecutive scoring drives. The second half saw USF taking the lead, scoring 42-38. Still, the Tigers responded with a 34-yard touchdown run by running back Blake Watson, regaining the lead at 45-42.
Throughout the game, the storyline was filled with twists and turns. Quarterback Seth Henigan had his best performance of the season, throwing for 349 yards and four touchdowns while adding 42 rushing yards and a touchdown as a runner. Unfortunately, Henigan could not finish the game due to a shoulder injury sustained in the fourth quarter. Backup QB Tevin Carter stepped in and immediately made an impact, connecting with wide receiver Roc Taylor for an 85-yard touchdown pass on his first snap.
— The American (@American_Conf) November 4, 2023
With South Florida cutting into Memphis’ lead, closing the gap to 59-50 with just 0:55 left, it was a tense final minute. However, Memphis managed to run out the clock, securing their seventh victory of the season.
Head coach Ryan Silverfield addressed concerns about Henigan’s injury, stating that more information would be available on Monday. The following two weeks will be crucial for Memphis Football as they await news on Henigan’s long-term health and continue to chase their New Year’s Six aspirations and hopes of playing in the AAC title game. Additionally, star running back Blake Watson left the game late with a leg injury, adding to the team’s concerns.
Despite the challenges, Memphis remains in the hunt for significant achievements this season. Air Force, a top Group of Five heavyweights, suffered their first loss of the season, and defending AAC champions Tulane has not performed as expected despite a one-loss record. As the Tigers navigate the rest of their season, the possibilities remain wide open.
What Lies Ahead?
The Tigers head back on the road to face their last opponent, that is, a new member of the AAC, the Charlotte 49ers. While the Tigers will be considered the favorites, they must go out and produce on the field. It’s a must-win situation that will set the Tigers up for a colossal home-finale showdown against the SMU Mustangs. The winner will have the inside track to play in this year’s AAC title game. Unlike the closure of the 2022 campaign, there’s a lot to play for this season.
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