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Old 10-11-2014, 10:00 PM   #1
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Houston Cougars beat Memphis Tigers 28-24

Greg Ward Jr. threw for a touchdown and ran for another as the visiting Cougars rallied from an early deficit to defeat the Tigers for the fifth straight time.

Ward, who drew another start despite fumbling at the goal line in a relief appearance on a potential game-winning touchdown run in last week’s 17-12 loss to Central Florida, threw for 168 yards and rushed for 95 in this one. Kenneth Farrow and Ryan Jackson added short scoring runs while Markeith Ambles hauled in the go-ahead TD catch early in the fourth quarter as Houston (3-3, 1-1 American Athletic Conference) forced five turnovers.

Paxton Lynch went 26-of-37 for 243 yards and two touchdowns, but tossed three interceptions – including one that sealed the game with less than two minutes remaining as Memphis (3-3, 1-1) was denied its first 2-0 start in conference play since 1996. Lynch ran for 35 yards and another score while Tevin Jones had a game-high six catches for 72 yards, but also committed a fumble late in the fourth quarter in Houston territory.

Lynch connected with Jones for an 18-yard score in the first quarter and converted from 6 yards on the second play of the second quarter to give the Tigers an early 14-point advantage. Ward countered with a thrilling run four plays later, dodging a couple potential tackles in the pocket before racing past a host of Memphis defenders for a career-long 64-yard TD.

The Tigers settled for a 21-14 halftime lead after a 20-yard scoring strike from Lynch, but a 32-yard sprint from Ward to the Memphis 9 in the third quarter led to a 3-yard TD run by Jackson to tie the game for the second time. Ward put Houston in front for good with 13:34 to go when he threw a perfect 25-yard strike to Ambles and the Cougars’ defense forced a fumble and an interception on the Tigers’ final two possessions to preserve the victory.

GAME NOTEBOOK: The teams combined for eight turnovers, six of which came in the first half. ... The Cougars have forced a turnover in 29 straight games – the second-longest streak in FBS behind Louisiana-Monroe (31). … Memphis, which matched its turnover total over its first five contests, failed to climb two games over .500 for the first time since finishing the 2007 campaign with a 7-5 mark.

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