MEMPHIS, Tenn. - Riley Ferguson threw for three touchdowns and Darrell Henderson scored twice and rushed for 122 yards as No. 17 Memphis dominated East Carolina 70-13 on Saturday in a tuneup for the American Athletic Conference championship game.
Patrick Taylor also scored twice for Memphis, rushing for 127 yards.
The victory provided the Tigers (10-1, 7-1 American Athletic Conference, No. 20 CFP) their first undefeated home season at Liberty Bowl Memorial Stadium since it opened in 1965. Memphis won its seventh straight, the lone loss of the season coming Sept. 30 against No. 13 Central Florida, which the Tigers will face next Saturday in Orlando, Florida.
Even when the Pirates (3-9, 2-6) were able to reach the end zone - the first time on a 33-yard pass from Gardner Minshew to Jimmy Williams in the third quarter -- the ensuing extra point was blocked. And to make things worse, when the Pirates kicked off, Memphis' Tony Pollard returned it 100 yards for his fourth kickoff return for a touchdown this season and sixth of his career.
Not long after that, Memphis coach Mike Norvell pulled Ferguson and the Tiger starters. Ferguson passed for 299 yards.
Memphis scored on its first play from scrimmage on an 89-yard pass from Ferguson to Anthony Miller. The Tiger offense was operating with little resistance from the Pirates who have one of the worst defenses in the nation.
Henderson scored from 4 yards on the next possession.
By the time safety Jonathan Cook returned an interception for a 31-yard touchdown, Memphis was up 21-0, less than 11 minutes into the game.
The Tigers led 49-0 at halftime.