Po­tent Tigers slip by Bru­ins

Orlando Sentinel - - COLLEGE FOOTBALL -

MEM­PHIS, Tenn. — Ri­ley Ferguson threw for 398 yards and six touch­downs, Ja­cobi Fran­cis broke up a fourth-down pass in the clos­ing sec­onds and Mem­phis held off No. 25 UCLA 48-45 on Satur­day.

Fran­cis' breakup with 56 sec­onds left pre­vented an­other fourth-quar­ter come­back by Bru­ins quar­ter­back Josh Rosen. He was 34 of 56 for 463 yards and four touch­downs.

“That was a grind against a Pac-12 op­po­nent, and one ranked Top 25 in the coun­try,” Mem­phis coach Mike Norvell said.

Un­like in the Bru­ins’ opener when Rosen led a fourth-quar­ter come­back in a 45-44 vic­tory over Texas A&M, the Mem­phis de­fense stiff­ened on UCLA’s fi­nal pos­ses­sion.

For all of the hype about Rosen, con­sid­ered one of the top quar­ter­backs in the coun­try, Ferguson matched his coun­ter­part, com­plet­ing 23 of 38 passes for Mem­phis (2-0). His con­nec­tions with wide re­ceiver An­thony Miller meant the dif­fer­ence. Miller caught nine passes for 185 yards and two touch­downs.

“I was re­ally proud of the of­fense. I thought An­thony and Ri­ley did a phe­nom­e­nal job,” Norvell said. “Ev­ery­body, re­ally.”

UCLA (2-1) took a 45-41 on Rosen's 22-yard pass to Austin Roberts with 11:51 left.

But Mem­phis an­swered with a four-play, 81-yard drive, the fi­nal 3 yards com­ing on Ferguson’s pass to Phil May­hue with 9:56 left.

From there, it was up to the Tigers’ de­fense — and Fran­cis’ knock-away sent the Mem­phis kicked off a cel­e­bra­tion. The Tigers have beaten one ranked op­po­nent in each of the last three sea­sons.

“We didn’t play a per­fect game. There were mis­takes that were made against a re­ally good foot­ball team,” Norvell said. “But our guys con­tin­ued to push and con­tin­ued to bat­tle.”

Rosen, who had not thrown an in­ter­cep­tion in the first two games, had two against the Tigers, one that line­backer Tim Hart re­turned 60 yards for a touch­down in the third quar­ter. The other in­ter­cep­tion ended a drive deep in Mem­phis ter­ri­tory with just un­der 7 min­utes left.

“I just made some stupid mis­takes,” Rosen said. “I made about 10 points worth of re­ally bad plays. I just can't make re­ally, re­ally, silly mis­takes like that. It's just try­ing to play hero ball. It's not needed. You've got to play within the sys­tem.”

The Bru­ins did have a more suc­cess­ful rush­ing at­tack against the Tigers, in­clud­ing Bolu Olorun­funmi gain­ing 77 yards on 13 car­ries. The Bru­ins fin­ished with 170 yards rush­ing af­ter only gain­ing 195 on the ground in their first two games.

The Tigers man­aged to an­swer scores by UCLA through­out the game. They used a pair of screen passes for scores at a time when the Bru­ins had thwarted the run­ning game. The Tigers were led in rush­ing by Dar­rell Hen­der­son, who had 14 car­ries for 105 yards.

UCLA opens Pac-12 play at No. 19 Stan­ford next Satur­day.

Mem­phis will host South­ern Illinois next Satur­day be­fore play­ing at UCF Sept. 30 in a game resched­uled due to Hur­ri­cane Irma.

MARK HUMPHREY/ASSOCIATED PRESS

Mem­phis quar­ter­back Ri­ley Ferguson cel­e­brates af­ter the Tigers earned a 48-45 win over No. 25 UCLA on Satur­day.

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