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Liberty Bowl: Memphis 36, Iowa State 26

Memphis 36, Iowa State 26

By CLAY BAILEY
Associated Press

MEMPHIS, Tenn. - Seth Henigan threw for 364 yards and four touchdowns and the Memphis defense shut down Iowa State’s rushing game on the way to a 36-26 victory in the Liberty Bowl.

Blake Watson rushed for 107 yards as Memphis (10-3) of the American Athletic Conference amassed 530 yards of total offense and finished with at least 10 wins for the fifth time in program history.

Henigan completed 24 of 34 passes and also rushed for 27 yards and a touchdown.

Redshirt freshman Rocco Becht led the Cyclone offense, going 22 for 38 for 446 yards and three touchdown passes. But Becht supplied nearly all the offence for Iowa State (7-6), which averages 130 yard rushing per game. This time, the Cyclones were held to zero net yards on the ground.

Both teams had their moments offensively in the first half. Memphis scored 19 points in the first quarter before Iowa State answered with 13 in the second. A 49-yard field goal by Tanner Gilliss as time expire in the first half gave Memphis a 22-13 lead at the break.

The Tigers extended the lead to 36-13 midway through the third quarter on two touchdown passes by Henigan, providing enough of a buffer for Memphis to claim the victory.

THE TAKEAWAY

Memphis: Henigan and wide receiver Roc Taylor have said they plan to return for the 2024 season, which gives Memphis a good start to its offensive attack. The bowl victory should give the Tigers momentum going into next season.

Iowa State: The Cyclones were not predicted to have a good season and matters became worse when five projected starters, including quarterback Hunter Dekkers, were caught up in a gambling probe. Becht, a redshirt freshman, stepped into the role and with a heavy reliance on younger players, Matt Campbell’s team played above .500 and closed the regular season with a win over then-No. 19 Kansas State. Even with the loss, the season was better than many expected.

RUSHING STYMIED

Cyclone running back Abu Sama III, who rushed for 276 yards in his first start against Kansas State in Iowa State’s season finale, was kept in check through the game. Sama had four yards on 12 carries.

VIDEO HIGHLIGHTS

Memphis athletics press release

December 29, 2023





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