Memphis offense rolls in 31-7 win over Arkansas St
Marquis Warford rushed for 173 yards and a touchdown, Brandon Hayes added 114 yards and another score as Memphis won its first game of the season with a 31-7 victory over Arkansas State on Saturday.
The Tigers (1-2) showed an offensive game unseen in its opening two losses, finishing with 505 yards of total offense.
The Memphis offense wasn't the only impressive part of the Tigers game. The defense held the Red Wolves (2-2) to 255 yards of offense. Memphis defensive end Martin Ifedi had 10 tackles, including 4 1/2 for losses.
Arkansas State quarterback Adam Kennedy finished 20-of-37 for 166 yards, and threw his first interception of the year. J.D. McKissic scored the only touchdown on a 15-yard pass from reserve quarterback Fredi Knighten.
Red Wolves running back David Oku, who entered the game averaging 82 yards a game, finished as the leading rusher with 45 yards.
The Memphis victory prevented Red Wolves coach Bryan Harsin from attaining the best start for a coach in his inaugural season at Arkansas State since Bill Adams in 1939.
The Red Wolves entered the game having dominated the series in recent years, winning four of the last five games against the Tigers.
Memphis let their first two games slip away late, leading them to the winless start. They were tied with Duke early in the fourth quarter in the season-opener, but lost 28-14, and last week, Middle Tennessee State kicked a field goal with less than 2 minutes left for a 17-15 win.
That didn't happen Saturday as Memphis took control early and easily coasted to its initial victory
The Tigers took an early 14-0 lead on a pair of 6-yard touchdowns - a run by Hayes and a scoring pass from quarterback Paxton Lynch to Alan Cross. The Red Wolves would answer, covering 59 yards in less than 90 seconds, the final 15 on the Knighten strike.
Memphis would add a 23-yard field goal from Jake Elliott and a 5-yard run by Sam Craft in the second quarter for a 24-7 lead at the break.
Memphis already had more points than either of its previous two games and had 315 yards of total offense compared to 134 for the Red Wolves, part of that associated with eight tackles for loss in the half.
Warford had 133 yards rushing in the half, including 121 in the second quarter. His 16-yard run was the only score in the second half.
That dominance continued in the second half, particularly on defense, limiting the Red Wolves to 121 yards of offense for the final two quarters. The Tiger defense, which ended the day matching a school record with seven sacks, had 12 tackles for losses in the game. Memphis pressured Kennedy throughout the game, and was aggressive in reaching Red Wolves runners in the backfield.