In the inaugural Montgomery Bowl, the Memphis Tigers were victorious over the Florida Atlantic Owls 25-10. It was a rainy night at the Cramton Bowl in the capitol city that saw a few streaks snapped on both sides. For the Memphis Tigers, it ended their five-game bowl losing streak that had dated back to 2014. For Florida Atlantic, it was their first ever bowl loss in the program’s history. The Owls were 4-0 in bowl games going into Wednesday night.
Memphis Wins Montgomery Bowl
Brady White Wins MVP
It was also a streak stopping night for Memphis quarterback Brady White who was playing his final college game. White had never experienced a bowl win in his career. White and the Tigers had lost the two previous bowl games against Penn State and Wake Forest. It was a terrific night to end a career. White went 22 of 34 for 284 yards and three touchdowns. White ends his career as the all-time leader for Memphis in passing yards (10,690), touchdown passes (90), and wins (28).
Good First Half for the Tigers
The Memphis offense got rolling with a ten-play 53-yard drive on their first possession after a Florida Atlantic punt. The drive started at their own 12, but a 25-yard pass to Tahj Washington got the Tigers near midfield on the second play. White and Washington would connect on an 11-yard pass a few plays later, but the drive stalled out. That drive would lead to 53-yard field goal by Riley Patterson.
Florida Atlantic would fumble on the following possession, and that would set up the first touchdown of the evening for the Tigers and White. Memphis would work their way to the five-yard line before White would connect with Javon Ivory for the touchdown with 2:26 left in the first quarter.
The next two possessions saw the Tigers offense sputter a bit with a missed field goal and an interception by the Owls’ Zyon Gilbert. Despite these issues, Florida Atlantic was not able to take advantage. Memphis closed out the first half with another 10-play drive that resulted in a two-yard touchdown pass from White to Joseph Dorceus. The Tiger added in two points on a run by John Hassell to take a 18-0 halftime lead.
Owls Make it Close in the Third
Florida Atlantic struggled for the entire first half on offense. The Owls had four punts by Matt Hayball and fumbled it to the Tigers once. They went into halftime with only 88 yards total offense, and both quarterbacks struggled to get the offense going. Nick Tronti started the game and at halftime was four for seven for just 38 yards. After being ineffective, Javion Posey got a chance to run the offense and was perfect on his three passes. Those passes though, were only for five yards total.
The third quarter saw a change though. After a three and out by Memphis to start the half, the Owls would take the ball down the field for 73 yards on nine plays. The big play on the drive was on a first down at the Memphis 44 when Tronti hit Michael Irvin II for 26 yards. That play got the Owns to the 18. Florida Atlantic moved to inside the five, and Tronti connected with T.J. Chase for a three-yard touchdown to get on the board.
On the ensuing kick-off, Tigers returner Caden Prieskorn fumbled and the Owls’ Zyon Gilbert recovered at the Memphis 24. After getting to the eight, the Owls would have to settle for a Vladimir Rivas 27-yard field goal with 7:38 left in the third to make the score 18-10.
Memphis Closes Montgomery Bowl
The signs of a good team are how they handle adversity when things begin to go against them. After the Owls got within eight points, the Tigers responded. While on their own 37, White connected again with Ivory for a 51-yard completion to the Owls 12. Two plays later, White threw his third touchdown when he connected with Calvin Austin III for seven yards. That score put the Tigers up 25-10 with 5:14 left in the third.
Two possessions later, Memphis running back Asa Martin fumbled after a 13-yard run to give the Owls another opportunity. The Owls would get to the Memphis one, but were able to punch it in and turned it over on downs with 13:29 left in the game. After a Tigers punt, the Owls did get another chance but after 15 plays Tronti was picked off by Thomas Pickens at the Memphis two to close the deal with 3:50 remaining.
The Tigers Found a Ground Game
In that final drive to run out the clock, Memphis leaned on Auburn transfer Asa Martin for 48 yards on five carries. It was a solid night overall for Martin. On the evening he rushed 15 times for 96 yards. The other back Rodrigues Clark rushed 11 times for 38 yards. As a team the Tigers had 185 yards on the ground.
Having that ground game was huge for the passing game on Wednesday. Coming into the game the Tigers averaged 141.2 yards per game on the ground, but in the previous three were averaging just 41.3 yards per game.
(Main photo courtesy SI.com)