DALLAS – The First Responder Bowl provided both a homecoming and redemption for Memphis sophomore quarterback Seth Henigan
Henigan threw for 284 yards and three touchdowns – two of them to Eddie Lewis – and Jeyvon Ducker ran for two scores to help Memphis rout Utah State 38-10 on Tuesday.
The Tigers’ regular-season finale was a 34-31 loss to SMU in the same stadium, when Henigan – from about 70 miles north of Dallas in Denton – threw an interception into the end zone on the final play.
“Seth’s going back home; is he going to have flashbacks?” Memphis coach Ryan Silverfield said. “To see him come out and do what he did statistically today and lead our team to victory was huge.”
“I put the past in the past,” said Henigan, who was 20 for 29. “I was focused on that opponent, Utah State.”
Henigan’s touchdown passes were all thrown in the second quarter, when Memphis (7-6) outscored Utah State (6-7) 21-3. The Tigers outgained the Aggies in the period 179 yards to 39 and 137-16 in the air.
“We could not cover well. Explosive throws (by Henigan). We could not get anything going offensively at all,” Utah State coach Blake Anderson said. “It just was anemic, especially in the second quarter.”
Ducker had a 1-yard plunge and a 48-yard sprint for scores, both in the fourth quarter.
Lewis caught scoring passes of 15 and 22 yards, and Caden Prieskorn caught a 3-yard touchdown pass with 24 seconds remaining in the half for Memphis. Chris Howard added a 26-yard field goal in the first quarter for the Tigers.
Bishop Davenport threw a 44-yard touchdown pass to Brian Cobbs in the fourth quarter for the Aggies in relief of quarterback Cooper Legas, who left early in the third quarter with what Anderson said was an injury to either his right ankle or ACL.
Connor Coles kicked a career-long 53-yard field goal for Utah State.
The Aggies gained 261 yards, 89 in the first half, after averaging 362.3 during the season.
“They were just a better team today,” said running back Calvin Tyler Jr., who rushed for 89 yards to finish his two-year Utah State career with 2,006 yards after joining the program from Oregon State. “We knew we had to do everything right to win this game. Unfortunately, things happened, didn’t go our way.”
Utah State: The Aggies rallied from a 1-4 start to play in their 10th bowl game in the last 12 seasons after participating in only six in the program’s first 119 seasons.
Memphis: The bowl victory allowed the Tigers to finish with a winning record for the eighth time in the last nine years.
Memphis qualified for its ninth consecutive bowl, the longest streak among Group of Five programs, and is 3-5 during that run. What?
The 2021 Tigers were invited to play in the Hawaii Bowl, but the game was canceled less than 24 hours before kickoff because their opponent, the Hawaii Rainbow Warriors, were sidelined by COVID-19 issues.