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Recap: Memphis Tigers Hold On To Win Barn Burner Against Bowling Green Falcons

The Memphis Tigers leave Bowling Green with an impressive win following an electric offensive display from both teams.

Memphis kicker Jake Elliot connects from 29, 34, and 52 to help lift the Tigers over Bowling Green.
Memphis kicker Jake Elliot connects from 29, 34, and 52 to help lift the Tigers over Bowling Green.
Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

For the first time since 2004 the Memphis Tigers have started the season 3-0.  The Tigers still have lingering questions about their defense after the barn burner at Bowling Green, but the team showed it has the heart to grit out tough, come from behind wins.

The Tigers defense, clinging to a late 3 point lead, would come up huge in the final minutes (despite struggling all day) by holding Bowling Green to a key 3 and out with just under 2 minutes remaining.  Earlier in the week it was heavily anticipated that the winner of this game would be whoever had the ball last and that proved true, in a sense.

The game started out exactly as you would think, with Matt Johnson being on fire.  Johnson would open the game with a deep touchdown pass to Roger Lewis.  In fact, there would be a theme that would develop between Lewis and Johnson.  The tandem would connect 7 times for 261 yards, 3 of those receptions would be touchdowns.  In all Johnson would pass for 447 yards and 4 touchdowns.

The Tigers on the other hand were expected to have a much more balanced approach to the game.  While Johnson was flinging the ball for multiple deep passes, Memphis' Paxton Lynch was steadily guiding his Tigers down the field.  Lynch would pass for 3 touchdowns while completing 29 of his 40 passes.  The Tigers would also rush the ball 51 times for 155 yards compared to Bowling Greens ground attack of 29 rushes for 136 yards.

The first half belonged to the Falcons as their passing attack proved too much for the inexperienced Tigers defense.  After allowing the Tigers a late lead, Bowling Green clamped down and showed themselves to be the passing juggernaut that we expected of them.  With just minutes remaining in the half the Falcons would score on quick drives, more like quick plays, (a total of 2:08 minutes) of 90 and 91 yards to take a 27-17 halftime lead.

Undeterred the Tigers would make their halftime adjustments and come back ready to strike.  The game would be tied following a 52 yard Jake Elliot field goal and a 3 yard Sam Craft rush in the 3rd quarter.  Matt Johnson, however, would again connect with Roger Lewis for a 94 yard strike to retake the 34-27 lead.

The 4th quarter would see the Tigers and Falcons trade scores on big plays as Johnson would again connect with Lewis, this time for 62 yards, and Paxton Lynch connect with Tevin Jones on an incredible, must see 48 yard reverse/flea flicker. Jake Elliot would tack on a 29 yard field goal after a stout stand by the Bowling Green defense.

With the 3 point lead the Tigers would try and milk clock on two drives with 8 minutes until the final.  In this game, at the time, it seemed as if that could be a fatal mistake with the way Bowling Green was scoring.  In the end Memphis' defense was able to hold the Falcons to 3 straight drives without a score (an anomaly in this game) and end the game with a scorching 44-41 victory.

Memphis now must prepare for a short week as conference rival Cincinnati heads to Memphis for a Thursday night showdown.

Memphis Bowling Green
Passing TD's 3 4
Comp-Att 29-40 29-47
Yards 386 444
Rushing TD's 2 2
Att 51 29
Yards 154 136
Total (net) Yards 540 580
Final Score 44 41