Memphis, TN (SportsNetwork.com) - Garrett Gilbert threw for 321 yards and two touchdowns to lead the SMU Mustangs past the Memphis Tigers, 34-29, in an American Athletic Conference bout at the Liberty Bowl.
Gilbert did his damage on 27-of-43 passing for SMU (2-4, 1-1 AAC), which snapped a three-game losing streak with the triumph. Keenan Holman (126 yards, TD) and Jeremy Johnson (100 yards) both crossed the century mark receiving. Johnson hauled in 10 passes for his fourth double-digit reception game of the season. Traylon Shead carried the ball 22 times for 83 yards and scored a pair of touchdowns.
For Memphis (1-5, 0-3), Paxton Lynch completed 26-of-36 passes for 198 yards with a touchdown and an interception. Brandon Hayes had 65 yards and a touchdown on 16 carries.
SMU struck big on the second play of the game, as Gilbert connected on a 79- yard touchdown strike to Holman to take an early 7-0 lead. Memphis got on the board later in the frame with a 52-yard field goal by Jake Elliott.
The Mustangs put together a dominating second quarter. Shead rushed in a pair of one-yard touchdowns less than three minutes apart, the latter coming after a Memphis fumble. Chase Hover made a 37-yard field goal midway through the quarter, then Gilbert orchestrated a 71-yard drive in the final three minutes of the half and capped it off with an eight-yard scoring strike from Gilbert to Collin LaGasse to put SMU up 31-3 heading into intermission.
Hover added a 31-yard field goal for the Mustangs midway through the third quarter.
Memphis made things interesting late in the game thanks to a couple big plays from linebacker Ryan Coleman. The junior forced a Shead fumble late in the third quarter, recovered it and returned it 15 yards for a touchdown. Coleman scored yet again with 9:40 left in the game, picking up a JaBryce Taylor fumble on a punt return and running it back 19 yards for a score. He's just the third player in NCAA history to have two fumble recovery touchdowns in the same game. After a failed two-point conversion, the Tigers were down, 34-16.
The Tigers continued the comeback trail with 5:23 left to play when Hayes rushed in a one-yard score. The touchdown came on the heels of a Gilbert interception deep in SMU territory.
Memphis scored its fourth straight touchdown in garbage time, as Lynch hooked up with Mose Frazier for an eight-yard score as time expired.
Memphis gained just 320 total yards on the afternoon but still won the time of possession battle (33:25).