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Thursday, December 9, 2021

Football

UH rally falls short after last-second Memphis field goal


UH receiver Marquez Stevenson looks to elude Memphis defenders during a regular-season game against the Tigers in 2019 at TDECU Stadium. | Katrina Martinez/The Cougar

UH receiver Marquez Stevenson looks to elude Memphis defenders during a regular-season game against the Tigers in 2019 at TDECU Stadium. | Katrina Martinez/The Cougar

After nearly 28 days since the last time the Houston football team played in a regular-season contest, UH traveled to Memphis, but fell short and suffered a 30-27 loss to the Tigers.

UH scored 21 unanswered points in the fourth quarter to tie the game, but it was not enough as Memphis was able to drive down the field and have senior kicker Riley Patterson hit a 46-yard field goal as time expired.

It was the Cougars’ inability to score in the red zone during the first half that ultimately doomed them. UH (3-4, 3-3 American Athletic Conference) had three red-zone possessions in the opening half and failed to score a touchdown on all of them. 

The Cougars settled for two field goals and fumbled the ball at the end of the first half that led to a scoop and score by Memphis’ sophomore defensive end Jaylon Allen, which gave the Tigers (7-3, 5-3) a double-digit lead and momentum heading into the break.

The Tigers came out of halftime and put together a nine-play, 75-yard drive that was capped off by a 15-yard touchdown catch from junior wideout Calvin Austin III, which extended the lead to 18 points.

First half yardage

The Cougars started the game well on offense, moving the ball between the 20s with relative ease in the first drive.

Junior quarterback Clayton Tune completed his first seven passes of the game for 52 yards, which included a fourth-down conversion on a pass to senior receiver Marquez Stevenson, who played in his first game since Halloween against UCF.

The Cougars were able to get down all the way to the Tigers’ eight-yard line until the drive stalled out, and they settled for a field goal on their opening drive.

On the opening drive for UH’s defense, senior defensive lineman Payton Turner, who had missed two games due to COVID-19, made his mark early, sacking senior Brady White on third down that sealed a three-and-out.

The two teams struggled to get any offense going early, combining for three punts and two field goals on their first five drives. The game was tied at three.

A couple of plays after White completed a 40-yard pass to redshirt senior tight end Sean Dykes, junior cornerback Marcus Jones picked off another deep shot at the six-yard line, which gave UH control of the ball again.

The Cougars were able to move 60 yards across the field in 10 plays but had to settle for another field goal inside the red zone after the Tigers’ defense stiffened up. UH held the 6-3 advantage.

The first touchdown of the game came towards the latter end of the second quarter after a 36-yard pass from Memphis’ White to freshman wideout Tahj Washington set up the four-yard touchdown pass to Washington a couple of plays later, which gave the Tigers their first lead of the contest.

The rally

After the scoop and score that put the Tigers up 11 heading into the break, they opened up the third quarter with another long drive that ended in Austin’s score.

Trailing 27-6 entering the fourth quarter, a touchdown catch by Stevenson and a 19-yard  touchdown scramble from Tune led to a one-possession game.

On UH’s final offensive drive, Tune, who finished the game with 270 passing yards, two touchdowns and two turnovers, found junior receiver Bryson Smith for the 18-yard catch in the end zone that tied the game.

The Tigers marched down the field, covering 46 yards in 28 seconds to put Patterson in position to win the game.

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