10,690 passing yards, 90 passing touchdowns, a conference championship, a New Year’s Six appearance. There was only one thing Brady White needed before wrapping up his storied Memphis Tigers career — a bowl victory.
That feat now belongs among White’s many accolades wearing blue and silver. With 284 passing yards and three touchdowns against Florida Atlantic, the senior quarterback guided the Tigers past the Owls, 25-10 in the Montgomery Bowl. Memphis snapped a 5-game bowl losing streak and finished the 2020 season 8-3, securing its sixth consecutive season of at least eight victories.
White won MVP honors to cap off his time in Memphis, and the Ph.D. student athlete now appears headed toward the waters of the NFL Draft. While the MVP honors were bestowed upon the quarterback, the Memphis defense did a masterful job in preserving the victory.
Tigers cornerback T.J. Carter recovered a fumble around midfield in the first quarter to spearhead the Memphis scoring effort. The defense then registered stop after stop in the opening half to send the Tigers ahead 18-0 at the break. In the second half, after withstanding a 10-point rally from the Owls, Memphis came up with a critical goal line stand. With FAU trailing 25-10, a swarm of Tiger defenders stopped FAU quarterback Nick Tronti in his tracks well behind the line of scrimmage to keep it a two-score game. As another FAU drive approached Memphis territory in the final minutes, outside linebacker Thomas Pickens intercepted Tronti’s pass near the goal line to deliver the final blow of the night.
Offensively, Memphis did most of its damage in the opening half. Operating in the rain in Montgomery, the Tigers opened the night with a field goal by Riley Patterson, who last year became the proud owner of the FBS bowl record for most field goals made in a single game. On the ensuing drive, White connected with wide receiver Javon Ivory for an 8-yard touchdown score to increase the advantage to 10-0. Ivory led the Tigers in receiving with 126 yards and fellow wide receiver Tahj Washington also made a mark by adding 105 yards.
Right before halftime, Ryan Silverfield dug into his bag of tricks. The recipient of White’s final touchdown pass of the first half was defensive end Joseph Dorceus. The 277-pound defensive lineman is no stranger to utilization on trick plays and he hauled in his third career reception — his first for a touchdown — while running a 2-yard route out of the fullback position.
Feeling confident in the trickery, Memphis continued to flow with creative offensive sets. A random 2-point conversion attempt featured an uncharacteristic formation of a standalone center with linemen spaced far apart on either side. Hiding behind the two linemen on the right side of the center was tight end John Hassell. Instead of a traditional snap, the center fired a bizarre sidearm throw to Hassell, and the tight end powered his way into the end zone to create an 18-0 lead.
Memphis out here running crazy formations on a 2 point conversion, this right after a defensive lineman caught a touchdown. pic.twitter.com/g7cQfijwGU— Preston Penn (@TheRealPres10) December 24, 2020
In the second half, FAU instantly scored 10 unanswered points. The Owls first appeared on the board following a touchdown pass from Tronti to Clemson transfer receiver T.J. Chase. Then, FAU benefited from Memphis fumbling the ensuing kickoff and managed to cash in the takeaway for a field goal to slice the deficit to 18-10.
As the urgency escalated, Memphis’ offense responded with a dose of the passing attack. White hooked up with Ivory for a 51-yard gain, and then the senior quarterback fired his final touchdown pass of his college career to Calvin Austin III from seven yards out.
Memphis remained in control for the rest of the night and there was not a single lead change in the game. The Montgomery Bowl extends 2020 Bowl Season’s streak to five consecutive games without a lead change through five games played.
When the action subsided, FAU found itself in the midst of a bowl loss for the first time in program history. The Owls entered Montgomery previously 4-0 in postseason contests, but FAU’s streak came to a halt against Memphis. At his fifth FBS stop, head coach Willie Taggart will look to regroup next year to win the first bowl game of his coaching career and the fifth in FAU history.
On the other sideline, Memphis head coach Ryan Silverfield secured his first bowl win. Silverfield made his head coaching debut in the Tigers’ biggest game in program history — the 2019 Cotton Bowl. Nearly a year later, Silverfield has eight wins under his belt and sends Memphis’ 2020 season into the sunset with the program’s first bowl victory since 2014.