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October 7, 2012

Memphis Blues

The Memphis Tigers hadn't won a game entering their game with Rice Saturday night. And after Rice carried a 10-0 lead into the locker room at halftime it looked like the Tigers' skid may continue.

But Memphis made the necessary adjustments needed to shut out Rice in the second half; meanwhile scoring 14 second half points as they beat the Owls 14-10 for their first victory of Head Coach Justin Fuente's career.

The loss was particularly disappointing for the Owl Defense, who has struggled to stop anyone in 2012. Not only did they allow their lowest points (14) and total yardage numbers (245) of the season against Memphis, they sacked Tiger QBs 4 times, forced 4 fumbles and returned one of them for a touchdown. It was easily the best game of the year for Chris Thurmond's unit.

The Offense was another story however, who mustered a mere 12 first downs, 221 total yards, and only 3 points.

Ouch.

Game Notes

- Linebacker James Radcliffe got the first start of his Rice career and made the most of his opportunity. Radcliffe led the team in tackles with 12, had 3 tackles for loss, and a sack in his debut as a starter.

- Defensive End Cody Bauer wasn't far behind Radcliffe with his effort. The junior from Pottsboro posted a career high 9 tackles, also posted 3 tackles for a loss, recovered a fumble, and also had one of the team's 4 sacks.

- No Owl defender has been playing at a higher level than Cornerback Phillip Gaines. Entering the game leading the country in pass break-ups he continued his recent string of big plays by scooping up a fumble and returning it 12 yards for a touchdown on the Tigers' first play from scrimmage. That touchdown created a bit of trivia: the last 2 Rice touchdowns scored at the Liberty Bowl have both been by Owl Cornerbacks. The other was scored by then freshman Chris Jammer, whose last second touchdown beat Memphis in 2008.

- Memphis was the 2nd straight team that faced the Owls with 2 weeks preparation after a bye week. They won't be the last - this week's opponent UTSA will also come to Houston this weekend after a bye week.

- Freshman Wide Receiver Dennis Parks narrowly avoided disaster when he fumbled a punt on his own 27 yard line. Memphis was unable to turn the fumble recovery into points as they lost 9 yards on 3 plays before punting back to Rice.

- Memphis Quarterback Jacob Karam, a Friendswood native, added insult to injury in leading the Tigers past the Owls. Rice recruited Karam hard out of high school before he ultimately chose to sign with Texas Tech. Karam transferred to Memphis after graduating from Texas Tech early with two years of eligibility left.


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