Perhaps the Houston Cougars and the Houston Astros have a lot in common.
The Cougars’ defense allowed the most points in a single half this season and the Memphis Tigers erased a 24-7 deficit in the second half to cap a 42-38 win over Houston on Thursday night at TDECU Stadium.
“It was disappointing that we lost,” said Houston head coach Major Applewhite. “I thought they played hard.”
Memphis quarterback Riley Ferguson’s middle pass to wide receiver Sean Dykes for a 21-yard touchdown with 1:28 left in the game to give the Tigers their first lead of the night and Houston had no response.
With the loss, the Cougars fell to 4-3 overall and 2-2 in the American Athletic Conference while the Tigers improved to 6-1 overall and 3-1 in conference play.
It was the second consecutive loss for the Cougars who last week dropped a 45-17 contest to the Tulsa Golden Hurricane.
Houston quarterback Kyle Postma went 29-of-40 for 315 yards and threw for one touchdown in the Cougars’ loss while running back Dillon Birden rushed for 106 yards on 21 carries and one touchdown. Running back Duke Catalon had 65 yards from 22 carries and three touchdowns.
Memphis quarterback Riley Ferguson went 33-of-53 for 471 yards and one touchdown.
Wide receiver Patrick Taylor had 14 catches for 39 yards and four touchdowns.
Running back Anthony Miller rushed for 178 yards from 10 carries while running back Tony Pollard rushed for 91 yards and 9 carries.
“It was a multitude of things,” Applewhite said. “Memphis made great plays. There were pass interference calls that extended the drives.”
The Cougars finally spotted the end zone when Birden scored from 1 yard out to give Houston the 7-0 lead in the first quarter.
Catalon scored on a 4-yard touchdown with 9:55 left in the first half on a drive that covered nearly the length of the field at 94 yards in 15 plays to tie the longest drive of the season for Houston.
The Cougars settled for a Caden Novikoff field goal from 30 yards to take a 17-0 lead.
The Tigers scored on their first offensive drive of the second half, finding the end zone on a Patrick Taylor 2-yard rush up the middle.
Houston responded with Catalon’s 1-yard run in the third quarter.
But Memphis responded with a 93-yard touchdown return on the next play by Pollard.
Catalon scored his third touchdown of the night from a 1-yard carry up the middle with 1:31 left in the quarter.
Taylor rushed for a 9-yard touchdown late in the third quarter.
The Tigers scored on a 1-yard run by Taylor early in the fourth quarter to narrow the gap to 3 points.
Postma’s 8-yard pass to Dunbar capped an 81-yard scoring drive to extend the Cougars’ lead at 38-28 with 6:44 left on the clock.
However, Houston’s defense couldn’t find a way to stop Memphis as Patrick’s fourth touchdown came on a 5-yard run and made it a 3-point game with 5:14 remaining.