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Defense leads the way again in Memphis win over Temple

The defense forced another three turnovers and allowed only three points

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Memphis won 24-3 over Temple, but the final score does not tell the story of how the game went. For the second week in a row, a slow start for the Tigers offense left many questions to be answered, but their defense continues to grow confident as they dominate week to week.

Ryan Silverfield won’t apologize for any win his Tigers get, especially against a conference opponent. But Saturday’s win will leave many scratching their heads.

"What this game showed is the grit and perseverance of your Memphis Tigers," Silverfield said.

For the second straight week, Memphis’ supposedly high powered offense looked sluggish early. They were held scoreless in the first half for the first time since 2017 with just 147 yards of offense.

"The ball’s gotta be there. We’ve gotta be able to protect. If it’s a one-on-one pass, wide receiver, DB, we’ve got to come down with those balls," Silverfield said. "It’s a full deal, all 11 guys on the field, plus me and the play caller - We’ve got to be better."

Seth Henigan used his legs a lot. He had 19 carries for 60 yards, 84 positive yards if you don’t count 4 sacks. He threw for just 195 yards and 1 TD and knows his defense bailed him out.

"I’m proud of our guys on the offensive side of the ball for getting it going, but it’s just a testament to our defense. Coach Barnes and all the defensive players are doing a great job. They’re keeping us alive in games," Henigan said.

The offense found some rhythm late in second half. Scoring touchdowns late in the third and twice in the fourth. It was the defense who thrived with another three forced turnovers, their 10th consecutive game with at least one.

All three were interceptions and one went to Xavier Cullens for the second straight week. The linebacker led the team with 9 total tackles, 2.5 tackles for loss, a pass break up and the interception.

"You know you do the little things right and good things happen sometimes. That’s all it was. Doing your job, doing what you’re supposed to be and it fell right into our hands each time just like mine," Cullens said.

Memphis' defense held Temple to just three points and 297 total yards. Each week, they’re looking to earn a little more respect.

"We are a good defense even though the offense usually bails us out. We just want people to understand we’re going to finish games and we’re going to play hard regardless of what happens," Cullens said.

With a Friday night date with Houston on the horizon, the offense and defense will have to work in unison to stay undefeated in AAC play.

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