Tigers drop second straight conference game, falling at Tulane

NEW ORLEANS, La. – The streak was snapped.

The University of Memphis entered Friday night’s American Athletic Conference game at Tulane having won 11 straight in the series dating to 2002. The Green Wave, however, ended any thoughts of a 12th straight behind an explosive second half that saw Tulane score 23 points in a six-minute, four-second span in a 40-24 victory.

The Tigers entered the game as one of the nation’s most prolific offenses, but never got on track at Yulman Stadium. Memphis, averaging 593 yards total offense, was limited to 277 yards. Darrell Henderson, the nation’s leading rusher, also was held in check. He finished with 51 yards, or 126 below his 177-yard average.

Quarterback Brady White completed 14 of 30 passes for 246 yards and two touchdowns.

“We never really got into a rhythm,” White said.

Tulane’s ability to stop the run – Memphis was limited to 31 rushing yards – and its overwhelming advantage in time of possession (39:39 to 20:21) was too much for the Tigers to overcome. The lopsided advantage in time of possession by Tulane (2-3, 1-0 AAC) eventually drained a Tiger defense that allowed more than 500 yards for the first time this season.

“We really struggled to get a rhythm and sustain drives,” Tiger coach Mike Norvell said. “They had a good plan. You have to give credit to Tulane.”

Despite its struggles, Memphis (3-2, 0-2 AAC) had its chances. After being held to 135 yards and only 16 snaps in the first half, the Tigers scored on its opening drive in the second half to trim the Green Wave’s 17-7 halftime lead to 17-14. Henderson scored on a twisting 43-yard reception from White.

Henderson also scored on a 47-yard rush in the first quarter.

But after Memphis appeared to put itself back into position for another win against the Green Wave, the Green Wave went on a scoring spree. It began on the final play of the third quarter when Darnell Mooney caught a short pass from reserve quarterback Justin McMillan and raced 51 yards for a touchdown.

A safety by the Green Wave soon followed when White was stripped of the ball near the end zone. Tiger offensive lineman Roger Joseph picked up the loose ball, but fell to the ground in the end zone for a Tulane safety and a 26-14 advantage.

Three minutes later, Corey Dauphine rushed around right end for a 46-yard touchdown to make it 33-14 and Darius Bradwell’s 25-yard run midway through the final quarter gave the Green Wave a 40-14 lead. Bradwell finished with 143 yards on 19 carries to lead Tulane.

Memphis scored the final 10 points, getting a 2-yard touchdown pass from White to Tony Pollard to cap a 69-yard drive and a 43-yard field goal from Riley Patterson with 2:01 to go.

The Tigers, who allowed 496 yards, will return home Saturday to play UConn at Liberty Bowl Memorial Stadium.

“We all got beat tonight,” Norvell said. “That was a very uncharacteristic showing for our football team and who we are.”