Tune has TDs passing, rushing, No. 17 Houston beats Memphis

Thomas Shea-USA TODAY Sports
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HOUSTON – Clayton Tune threw for 264 yards and a touchdown and ran for another score as No. 17 Houston extended its winning streak to 10 games with a 31-13 victory over Memphis on Friday night.

Tune tossed a 19-yard touchdown pass to Nathaniel Dell in the second quarter but was picked off twice, the first snapping a streak of 192 attempts without an interception. The QB also rushed for 59 yards, including a 20-yard touchdown as the Cougars (10-1, 8-0 American Athletic Conference) built a 21-3 lead at halftime.

“We just hammer through whatever adversity we are faced with,” Tune said. “Whatever challenges it is for that week, we keep hammering and playing. Don’t let outside noise and distractions get in the way of what we are trying to do. It just speaks to the character of this team and what we know we can do.”

Ta'Zhawn Henry rushed for 73 yards and a touchdown and Alton McCaskill rushed for 58 yards and a touchdown. Dell caught seven passes for 100 yards and Jeremy Singleton finished with five catches for 80 yards.

Houston gained 461 yards and was 8 of 15 on third downs.

Houston went undefeated in conference play for the second time in school history, matching the 2011 team.

“We are a good team,” Houston coach Dana Holgorsen said. “We finished the American 8-0. We’ve won 10 in a row. It’s hard to win in college football. It’s hard to win every week … I’m very proud of this football team.”

Seth Henigan threw for 208 yards and a touchdown for Memphis (5-6, 2-5), while Calvin Austin III had five catches for 103 yards. The Tigers gained 322 yards.

“There’s frustration, there’s hurt, there’s anger in the locker room and there should be,” Memphis coach Ryan Silverfield said. “I’m all those things. . It starts with me, and I am frustrated. We’ve got to find a way. Our players are frustrated, and I understand. We didn’t execute the way we needed to, the way we are capable of.”

Asa Martin caught a 5-yard touchdown pass from Henigan, and David Kemp made a 22-yard field goal to cut the lead to eight early in the fourth quarter.

Following two straight three-and-out drives by Memphis, Dalton Witherspoon connected on a 34-yard field goal with 3:24 remaining to put Houston up by 11.

THE TAKEAWAY

Memphis: The Tigers closed within eight and had momentum, but could not finish, gaining 23 yards in the fourth quarter. Memphis finished 2 for 14 on third downs and 2 for 4 on fourth downs.

“Our kids haven’t quit,” Silverfield said. “They’re fighting, they’re caring, they’re working. It’s just not showing in results, and that’s my job to figure out a way to get that done.”

Houston: Marcus Jones had two interceptions, his fourth straight game with at least one pick. The Cougars were called for 11 penalties totaling 122 yards, including an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty on Holgorsen. He called the penalties “mind-blowing.”

SCARY INJURY

Houston junior linebacker Donavan Mutin was taken off the field on a stretcher after tackling Martin with 12 minutes remaining in the first quarter. After the tackle, Mutin’s teammates immediately surrounded him as trainers and personnel rushed on to the field. The entire Houston team came out near the hashmarks on the far side and watched as Mutin was strapped on a backboard, loaded on to a stretcher and wheeled off the field.

Mutin was taken a hospital as a precaution and was alert and talking, the school announced.

Mutin entered the game tied for the team lead with three forced fumbles. He has five tackles for loss, including two sacks.

“Donnie is our emotional leader and team captain,” Holgorsen said. “We were out there for a while. In my 11, 12 years of being a head coach, I’ve never had that. I’ve never had a kid taken off on a stretcher. That was dire. He was moving and talking toward the end of it. It took him awhile to wake up. He was breathing.”

POLL IMPLICATIONS

The Cougars should at least maintain their position in the poll.

UP NEXT

Memphis: Hosts Tulane on Nov. 27.

Houston: At UConn on Nov. 27 to end the regular season.

Minnesota football players’ discrimination lawsuit dismissed

Jesse Johnson-USA TODAY Sports
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MINNEAPOLIS — A federal judge has dismissed a lawsuit filed by nine former University of Minnesota football players who were accused of sexual assault in 2016 in a case that roiled the school’s football program.

The lawsuit against the school claimed that the players faced emotional distress and financial damage after being falsely accused of being sex offenders. The players, who were identified in the lawsuit as John Does, sought unspecified damages for willful and malicious discrimination.

A woman alleged up to a dozen football players raped her or watched and cheered at an off-campus party in 2016. None of the players were ever charged.

The university found that 10 football players committed sexual misconduct. Five of them were expelled or suspended for violating student conduct codes, and the others were cleared on appeal.

In their lawsuit, the players alleged that the woman initiated the sexual encounters with players and an underage recruit.

U.S. District Court Judge Donovan Frank dismissed the lawsuit last week, saying the former players did not prove any of their claims, including allegations of bias by university investigators or pressure from Athletic Director Mark Coyle and former President Eric Kaler, the Minneapolis Star-Tribune reported.

David Madgett, an attorney for the players, said Tuesday that they are considering an appeal but have to determine if it makes sense financially and in terms of letting the former players get on with their lives. He said it was disappointing that the outcome was determined by the judge’s version of events and not decided by a jury.

“It’s disappointing to see disputes decided in this way,” Madgett said. “That’s the way things are decided more and more these days. … It’s disappointing you don’t get your day in court.”

When the allegations became public in 2016, players threatened to boycott the team’s trip to the Holiday Bowl. But after a graphic report of the investigation was released, the players agreed to play in the game.

University of Minnesota spokesman Jake Ricker said the school appreciated the judge’s decision affirming the actions taken in the case. He said the university would continue its work focusing on sexual misconduct awareness, prevention and response.

Frank dismissed the lawsuit in 2019, but an appeals court reinstated part of it in 2021 and returned it to Frank.

The players, all of whom are Black, also initially claimed racial discrimination, but that claim was previously dismissed.

The only remaining claim alleged Title IX gender discrimination. The former players noted that they never faced criminal charges, but Frank’s ruling said that “is certainly not evidence of a judicial adjudication or that plaintiffs ‘were proven innocent.'”

The men also claimed that an investigator for the university’s Office of Equal Opportunity and Affirmative Action used “manipulative tactics” with them in interviews and that their accuser helped draft the report. The players also alleged that “prior failed investigations motivated” the the school to punish them.

Frank said all the claims were unsupported by the evidence and “no reasonable jury could find that the University disciplined plaintiffs on the basis of sex.”

Michigan State player who swung helmet gets probation

Mike Carter-USA TODAY Sports
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ANN ARBOR, Mich. — A Michigan State football player who swung his helmet at a Michigan player in a stadium tunnel expressed regret Tuesday and said he’s “just looking forward to wuppin’ some maize and blue” on the field.

Khary Crump, a defensive back, was sentenced to probation. He was one of seven Michigan State players charged in a skirmish that followed a loss at Michigan Stadium on Oct. 29.

Crump was the only Spartan facing a felony, but that charge was dismissed in an agreement to plead guilty to misdemeanors. His record will be scrubbed clean if he stays out of trouble while on probation.

“Unfortunately, an exchange of words (took place), I felt attacked and unfortunately I did what I did,” Crump said of the tunnel altercation involving Michigan’s Gemon Green. “I’m not proud of that. I’m looking forward to moving forward.”

Crump was suspended by coach Mel Tucker. In addition, the Big Ten has suspended him for eight games in 2023.

“I had difficulties trying to stomach my actions … on that fateful day, but it happened. I can’t take it back,” Crump told MLive.com after the court hearing. “Honestly, I’m just looking forward to wuppin’ some maize and blue in the future — on the football field, of course.”

At least four other players charged with misdemeanors Will Likely have their cases dismissed in exchange for community service and other conditions. The cases against two others are pending.