MOBILE, Ala. – Different venue, same result.
Kenneth Gainwell rushed for a career-high 145 yards and quarterback Brady White passed for 209 yards and three touchdowns to lead the University of Memphis to a 42-6 victory over South Alabama Saturday at Ladd-Peebles Stadium.
The Tigers (3-0), playing their first road game of the season, amassed 327 of their 530 total yards in the first half and had two backs surpass 100 rushing yards. Redshirt sophomore Kylan Watkins added 113 yards on 11 attempts to complement Gainwell, who had 141 of his yards before halftime. Receiver Damonte Coxie had three receptions for 81 yards.
Defensively, the Tigers held the Jaguars (1-2) to 144 yards and no points through three quarters. The UofM defense also recovered two fumbles – one returned for a touchdown – in addition to an interception and a defensive PAT. The Jaguars finished with only 248 total yards.
“I’m really pleased with how our team came on the road and maintained their focus,” said Tigers coach Mike Norvell. “All in all, it was a great day.”
Leading 23-0 at the half, the UofM increased its advantage to 30-0 on its first drive of the second half. A White-to-Joey Magnifico reception – on a ball tipped by a USA defensive back – resulted in a 58-yard pickup to the South Alabama 4-yard line. White followed with a 4-yard TD pass to Antonio Gibson.
In the fourth quarter, the Tigers added a 23-yard Riley Patterson field goal, a 46-yard fumble return by linebacker Austin Hall and a defensive PAT by Jacobi Francis, who took a muffed South Alabama PAT attempt 98 yards for two points.
The Jaguars got their only score in the fourth quarter against the Memphis reserves. Kawaan Baker turned a short pass from Tylan Morton into a 74-yard touchdown with 11:18 left to play.
As for Gainwell, he wasted little time helping the Tigers offense make an impression. He got 71 of his yards on a first-quarter rush to the South Alabama 11-yard line. He scored two plays later on a 5-yard burst up the middle, taking advantage of path created by solid blocking by the Tigers’ offensive line.
Memphis increased its lead to 14-0 in the opening minute of the second quarter as sophomore Watkins hauled in a 17-yard touchdown pass from White. Watkins scored on a wheel route by stretching out and making a spectacular diving catch in the end zone.
“We’ve talked a lot about Kylan,” Norvell said. “To see Kylan step up and play at a high level, I’m really proud of him.”
The Tigers moved inside the USA 20-yard line on their next possession, but a tipped White pass was intercepted by USA’s Keith Gallmon. The UofM quickly recovered on its next series as Watkins sprinted 72 yards to the Jaguars’ 4-yard line midway through the second quarter. The big play set up a 2-yard TD pass from White to Kedarian Jones for a 20-0 lead.
Patterson closed the first-half scoring with a 36-yard field goal, set up by Hall’s first fumble recovery.
Memphis doesn’t play next weekend, but opens American Athletic Conference play Sept. 26 at home against Navy.
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