Memphis football improved to 2-0 with a convincing 55-50 victory over Arkansas State on Saturday. The Tigers showcased their balanced attack, scoring touchdowns on offense, defense and special teams. They also held the Red Wolves to just 13 points in the second half, after trailing 37-31 at halftime.
Seth Henigan leads Memphis offense with four touchdown passes
Freshman quarterback Seth Henigan continued his impressive start to the season, completing 22 of 33 passes for 417 yards and four touchdowns. He connected with Calvin Austin III for two scores, and also found Sean Dykes and Javon Ivory for long touchdowns. Henigan showed poise and accuracy, spreading the ball to nine different receivers.
Austin had another big game, catching six passes for 239 yards and two touchdowns. He had a career-long 94-yard touchdown catch in the third quarter, giving Memphis the lead for good. Dykes also had a career day, hauling in seven passes for 143 yards and a touchdown.
The Memphis running game was effective as well, rushing for 195 yards and two touchdowns. Brandon Thomas led the way with 18 carries for 147 yards and a score. He also had a 55-yard run that set up another touchdown.
Memphis defense shuts down Arkansas State in the second half
The Memphis defense struggled in the first half, allowing Arkansas State to rack up 37 points and 394 yards of offense. The Red Wolves had success with their two-quarterback system, as both James Blackman and Layne Hatcher threw two touchdown passes each.
However, the Tigers made some adjustments at halftime and came out with more intensity and aggression. They forced three turnovers in the second half, including a fumble recovery by Rodney Owens that he returned for a touchdown. They also sacked Blackman four times and Hatcher once, putting pressure on the Arkansas State passers.
The Memphis secondary also stepped up, limiting the Red Wolves to just 76 passing yards in the second half. They broke up several passes and intercepted Hatcher twice. Quindell Johnson had one of the picks, while Greg Rubin had the other one that sealed the game.
Memphis special teams makes an impact with a blocked punt
The Memphis special teams unit also contributed to the win, blocking a punt in the fourth quarter that led to a touchdown. JJ Russell was the one who got his hand on the ball, giving Memphis possession at the Arkansas State 13-yard line. Two plays later, Henigan found Ivory for a 13-yard touchdown pass that made it 55-37.
The blocked punt was the first for Memphis since 2019, when they blocked two against SMU. It was also the first career blocked punt for Russell, who is a senior linebacker and a team captain.
The Memphis kicker Joe Doyle also had a solid game, making all seven of his extra point attempts and hitting a 23-yard field goal. He is now perfect on the season, making all 14 of his extra points and both of his field goal tries.