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Memphis’ victory over UAB was a journey of discovery

Terry Davis

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. – In a game that renewed a rivalry with the University of Alabama at Birmingham, the Memphis Tigers “found a way” to secure a 45-21 win that earned them continued possession of the Bones trophy, which resembles a rack of ribs.

The Blazers held a 10-5 advantage entering the game in Birmingham, with Memphis having won the last game in the series.

“Offensively, we did some decent things in the first half. Defensively, there were missed tackles, missed assignments and bad execution. It was as bad as it could have gone for us. We were able to find a way,” Memphis head coach Ryan Silverfield said.

The Tigers will stay on the road and face North Texas State on Saturday (Oct. 28) at 2 p.m. CDT in Denton, TX. The game can be seen on ESPN+. Memphis returns to Simmons Bank Liberty Stadium on Nov. 3 for homecoming against the South Florida Bulls.

On bringing the Bones trophy back to Memphis, Silverfield said, “It is an awesome trophy. I appreciate rivalries. It is a cool trophy. I am glad to have it back in Memphis. Our goal is to always fill our trophy case. I am happy for the guys.”

The Tigers improved to (5-2,2-1 American Athletic Conference).

Memphis head coach Ryan Silverfield is in good company after the Tigers secured the win against UAB and maintained possession of the Bones trophy. (Photo: Terry Davis/The New Tri-State Defender)

In the first half, UAB was rushing the ball at will against the Tigers while using three quarterbacks. In the second quarter, the Tigers’ defense slowly began to take control of the game. Malik Feaster’s interception return for a 36-touchdown tied the game at 21-21.

“We had to make the adjustments to all of the different quarterbacks,” Silverfield said. “There were way too many missed tackles in the first half. It turned in our favor in the second half.”

Feaster said a pregame emphasis on getting turnovers paid off.

““We put an emphasis on getting the ball, when the opportunity comes our way, to capitalize on it. That is what we did throughout the week. That is what we did today.”

UAB only managed 49 total offensive yards in the second half.  Simeon Blair nearly had a pick six when he returned an intercepted pass 41 yards. Blair also had a fumble recovery and Cameron Smith had an interception.

Blair on his first career interception said,

“It meant a lot to me,” Blair said of his first career interception. “We were getting a lot of pressure on their quarterbacks. They were changing them in and out. The pressure we were giving them from the defensive line was making them a little nervous. I just did my job and the ball came right to me.”

Brandon Thomas triggered a celebration with this rushing touchdown. (Photo: Terry Davis/The New Tri-State Defender)

Blake Watson rushed for 125 yards. Seth Henigan threw for 159 total yards two touchdowns.

In the second half, the Tigers had possession of the football for nearly 23 of the 30 minutes. Koby Drake, who has become a security blanket for Henigan, had a career-high 6 receptions for 51 yards to lead the Tigers in both categories.

“I didn’t even know I had six until my teammates told me,” Drake said. “I did not expect to. I just got open and found seams in their zones. It just happened. I am glad it helped the team out, but I’m just going forward.”

Drake has shown a penchant for catching passes over the middle.

“When the ball is in the air all I can think about is to come down with it,” he said. “It is a part of the game; it is what they need me to do and that is what I am going to do.”

Silverfield called Drake “Mr. Reliable.

“He is a young man that continues to show up. I am so pleased with him. It is not always flashy, but he makes great plays. He makes some great catches on the ball. He is not the biggest or fastest, but he makes plays.”

 

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