Jason Stewart prepares every week like he’s the starter but usually watches Riley Ferguson lead the Memphis Tigers. This time an undisclosed injury to the starter put Stewart in the spotlight
Stewart threw two touchdown passes and Doroland Dorceus ran for two more scores to lead Memphis to a 34-7 victory over Cincinnati on Friday night.
Memphis (7-4, 4-3 American) has beaten Cincinnati in three straight games.
"Stewart took care of the football. He managed the game. He really did a great job. He prepares like he's the starter all the time," Memphis coach Mike Norvell said. "We wanted to make sure we took care of Riley. It was mostly precaution. I won't go into it in detail but I think it'll be fine. It's tough when a guy has to come in seven or eight minutes into a game."
Stewart appeared in three games this season, completing seven of 12 passes for 63 yards.
"The team believed in me,” Stewart said.. “The coaches believed in me. I was a little nervous at first but once I got into the flow of the game I was fine. I didn't get a chance to play a lot by I love Riley. I've always supported him. I feel like I've been blessed and wouldn't trade a day. I feel blessed from the way I got here. I didn't have any offers out of high school and went the junior college route.”
His teammates knew they could count on him.
“I'm proud of Stewart too. Stew prepares every week like he's the starter," Dorceus said.” We went to work.”
Dorceus ran for two scores inside the 8-yard line and finished with 66 yards rushing on 13 carries.
Hayden Moore threw a 10-yard touchdown pass to Devin Gray early in the fourth quarter for Cincinnati (4-7, 1-6), which gained just 99 yards in the first half and finished with 244 yards of offense. Moore was 23 of 34 for 144 yards and threw two interceptions.
Curtis Akins and Chris Morely intercepted Moore’s passes in back-to-back possessions as Memphis bolted to a 27-0 halftime lead.
“It was the same old song,” Cincinnati coach Tommy Tuberville said. “I didn’t think we’d turn the ball over like we did early. But again you’ve still got to make first downs. We still have to cross the goal line. We left the defense out there way too long. It was downhill from there.”
Jake Elliot, Memphis’ leading scorer, kicked field goals of 37 and 32 yards
Memphis is bowl eligible for the third year in a row. Cincinnati will not get the requisite six wins with one game to play. Memphis improves to 21-13 all time.
Memphis – Elliot broke the Memphis scoring record held by Stephen Gostkowski of the New England Patriots. Elliot has never missed an extra-point making all 192 attempts including four against Cincinnati…The Tigers entered the game tied for third in the nation with 23 forced turnovers. They added two interceptions and a fumble recovery.
Cincinnati- Three Cincinnati quarterbacks have started at least two games. Hayden Moore started his sixth against Memphis. Gunner Kiel started three and Ross Trail two. The QB’s have combined for 15 touchdown passes and 15 interceptions. Moore (8 TD-7 Int) Kiel (6TD-@Int) Triail (1TD-6Int).
Memphis – The Tigers will host Houston at 2:30 p.m. on Friday November 25.
Cincinnati – The Bearcats, will need a win at Tulsa next Friday, November 25, to be bowl eligible.