Tulane falls to No. 16 Memphis 41-13 despite early lead

Mackenna Barker, Online Sports Editor

For the first half, it looked as if Tulane football (2-6, 1-4 American Athletic Conference) might pull some Halloween magic for the upset against No. 16 Memphis (8-0, 4-0 AAC), Saturday night at Liberty Bowl Memorial Stadium. Tulane headed into half-time down just 15-13, but as the second half began the Tiger offense roared past the Wave to finish the night 41-13 and with a still unscathed record.

With Tulane’s first and second string quarterbacks out with injuries, third-string redshirt senior quarterback Jordy Joseph, in his first career start, led the Wave’s offense charging out the gate as Tulane marched down the field in a 17 play, 11-minute drive to strike first. The Wave took an early lead of 6-0, as the PAT was blocked.

The Wave defense kept the momentum running, barring the Memphis offense from scoring the next drive. The Wave’s offense seized the opportunity to strike again and found itself leading Memphis 13-0 early in the second.

That proved to be the last time the Wave would score. Memphis went on to score 41 unanswered points as the Wave’s offense did not find any traction from that point on. The Wave’s defense kept the score close in the first half, allowing Memphis to take the lead by only two points at the intermission.

The Memphis offense, led by star redshirt junior quarterback Paxton Lynch, began revving its engine at the end of the third quarter. Memphis dominated the Wave in the final quarter, and a game that began promising for the Wave quickly fell out of control.

Lynch, who according to NFL scouts could be the first drafted quarterback in the 2016 NFL draft should he forego his senior season, finished the evening 26 of 42 for 343 yards and one touchdown.

“You can’t keep Memphis’ offense down for a full 60 minutes,” senior defensive end Royce LaFrance said. “Their quarterback is just too good. He’s probably the best we’ve seen this year.”

On the Wave’s side, Joseph completed 9 of 22 for 131 yards in his first career start. Tulane didn’t suffer any turnovers, but the lack of offensive production, a seemingly overarching theme of this season, continued to hinder the squad.  

“We felt like if we stayed away from turnovers we’d be all right,” head coach Curtis Johnson said. “I love the way we played defense for most of the game, but, man, we gotta get some offense going.”

The Wave returns to home this week for Tulane’s homecoming game against Connecticut at 3 p.m. Saturday at Yulman Stadium.

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