SMU hit the road to Memphis for a matchup with the American Athletic Conference West Division leaders on Saturday. The Mustangs put up an early 10-point lead to set the stage for an upset but it wasn’t enough as the Tigers pulled away for a 66-45 win and clinched a spot in the conference title game in two weeks.
Junior wide receiver Courtland Sutton made a statement first with a 35-yard touchdown catch from Ben Hicks, which was followed by a Jordan Wyatt interception. Sophomore kicker would give the Mustangs a 10-0 lead with a 27-yard field goal.
Needing to capitalize in the next drive, Memphis responded as Patrick Taylor Jr. ran the ball in to the end zone on fourth and goal to put the Tigers on the board. Memphis would tie the game late in the first quarter with a Riley Patterson field goal.
Memphis kept the momentum going into the second quarter when quarterback Riley Ferguson found wide receiver Anthony Miller for a 34-yard touchdown and a 70-yard blazing run from Darrell Henderson to give the Tigers a two touchdown lead.
The Mustangs and Tigers would go back and forth with a Xavier Jones 12-yard touchdown run and a Trey Quinn touchdown catch sandwiched in between another Taylor score to make it 31-24 at the half.
That back and forth battle continued into the third quarter with a Riley Ferguson followed by a Raymond Epps touchdown catch set up to 30 yards of Tiger penalties on the drive. Memphis’ Ferguson and Jones would each add rushing touchdowns to make it 45-38 entering the fourth.
Anthony Miller would catch another Ferguson pass for a touchdown early in the fourth quarter and the only thing that was stopping either team was Mother Nature. With 13:51 left to go in the game and Memphis leading 51-38, an hour long lightning delay was enforced and it seemed SMU didn’t have quite enough after that.
Coming back from the delay, SMU turned the ball over on downs and Memphis would deliver the knockout blow as Henderson outraced the Mustangs for a 52-yard touchdown run that put the game out of reach. Ferguson added his third rushing touchdown of the day and SMU was only able to capitalize on one more scoring drive when when Hicks found Quinn for a 27-yard touchdown.
The win over SMU secures a spot in the conference championship game for the Memphis Tigers who host East Carolina on Saturday, November 25 with a game time set for 11:00 a.m. CT.
SMU is set to host Tulane on November 25 with a game time set for 11:00 a.m. CST in Dallas.
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