Memphis vs ECU Studs and Duds
Duds: Deja Vu
As Yogi Berra once said, “It’s like Deja Vu all over again.” For the second consecutive week, the Memphis Tigers lost a 3 score lead. For the second consecutive year, Memphis Tigers lost to the ECU Pirates in overtime. There was a sense as the game continued that it would come down to whomever scored last. It was ECU last night, in the fourth overtime.
Studs: Seth Henigan and the Receivers
Seth Henigan threw for 407 yards on 27-37 accuracy in the game. Joseph Scates caught five passes for 112 yards, including one touchdown with 13 seconds remaining, as well as a two-point score in the third overtime. Caden Prieskorn was shut out of scoring for the first time in several weeks. He was productive otherwise, though, with six catches for 104 yards. His longest was a 48-yard catch; there’s no fun like a six-foot-five 255-pound TE wearing 175-pound safeties on his shoulders like a general’s epaulets…. finally dragging him down.
Duds: Memphis Defense with a Lead
Once again the Memphis defense started out like a brutal beast. The Tigers shut out the ECU Pirates until the score was 17-0. ECU attacked, with RB Keaton Mitchell being unstoppable. Mitchell rushed for 154 yards on 29 carries, and scored 3 touchdowns. In addition he had a one yard conversion in the 1st overtime and a 12 yard conversion in the second overtime.
Holton Ahlers, fifth-year senior QB, passed for 304 yards, 26 completions on 34 attempts. He ran for a TD, then passed for a TD (to Isiah Winstead) as the second quarter ended to cut the margin to 17-13 Memphis Tigers. Ahlers added a two point conversion run, and two conversion passes, to Keaton Mitchell in the third OT, and to C.J. Johnson in the fourth OT. That Johnson completion in the right corner of the end zone turned out to be the winner. Memphis played without it’s emotional leader on defense, Quindell Johnson. He leads the Tigers with 3 interceptions, tied for eighth in the country. Not coincidentally, Memphis had no interceptions this game and forced no turnovers.
Memphis special teams were exceptional. Kicker Chris Howard was perfect on the night, 4 extra points and three field goals, a long one of 46 yards in the second quarter. He had the unusual status of a score in each of the four quarters plus a kick conversion in the first overtime. The punting game was unusual in that only one punt, in a loss for Joe Doyle to punt only one time. In this game neither team returned a punt.
The trendlines of this Memphis Tigers season. Is this a trend? NPR asserts it takes at least 3 instances of something to be a trend. But is this a template; a pattern – two weeks in a row of the most heartbreaking, cringe-inducing collapses? The Memphis Tigers rolled into this game 125th in defense, and this did nothing to improve it. The trend of winning the turnover margin ended this game. Henigan had his first two interception game of the year, including a game-turning pick-six. That turnover helped the East Carolina Pirates scratch back. The two losses are certainly a pattern, it’s up to the Memphis Tigers to make certain it doesn’t become a trend.
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