Memphis' Demeer Blankumsee (0) catches a pass for a touchdown in the opening drive during the game between the University of Memphis and Iowa State University in the AutoZone Liberty Bowl at Simmons Bank Liberty Stadium on Dec. 29, 2023.

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Strong passing attack lifts Memphis over Iowa State in Liberty Bowl

Seth Henigan passed for four touchdowns and ran for another to lead Memphis to a 36-26 victory over Iowa State in the AutoZone Liberty Bowl on Friday in Memphis, Tenn.

Henigan completed 24 of 34 passes for 364 yards with no interceptions against an Iowa State defense that had 16 picks during the regular season. Blake Watson rushed for 107 yards on 15 carries and Roc Taylor had eight catches for 102 yards for Memphis (10-3).

Henigan hit Sutton Smith for a 48-yard touchdown to put Memphis up 36-13 midway through the third quarter. Rocco Becht answered with a 15-yard scoring strike to Easton Dean to bring the Cyclones within 36-20.

Becht hit Jaylin Noel with a 23-yard scoring pass with 9:55 left, but the two-point pass failed, leaving Memphis up by 10.

Becht, the Big 12 Offensive Freshman of the Year, completed 22 of 38 passes for 446 yards with three touchdowns for Iowa State (7-6). The Cyclones were held to 0 yards rushing on 20 attempts.

Henigan completed two long touchdown passes and ran for another score to put the Tigers up 19-0 after one quarter.

Memphis struck quickly when Henigan connected with Demeer Blankumsee on a 70-yard touchdown pass on the third play of the game. The PAT was missed.

The Tigers made it 13-0 on their second possession, converting a fourth-and-1 to set up Henigan’s 11-yard touchdown scramble on the following play.

On Memphis’ next possession, Henigan capped a four-play, 84-yard drive with a 51-yard scoring strike to Joe Scates.

The Cyclones got on the board early in the second quarter when Becht hit Jayden Higgins with a 29-yard scoring pass to make it 19-7.

Iowa State pulled within 19-10 when Becht connected again with Higgins for 53 yards to set up Chase Contreraz’s 22-yard field goal.

Contreraz added a 39-yard field goal with 35 seconds left in the half to make it 19-13. But the Tigers went 44 yards in four plays and Tanner Gillis hit a 49-yarder on the final play for a 22-13 halftime lead.

Watson’s 55-yard run to the Cyclones’ 5-yard line on Memphis’ first series of the second half set up Henigan’s short scoring pass to Anthony Landphere to put the Tigers in front 29-13.

–Field Level Media

Field Level Media
Sport Writer & Editor
FLM has a North American focus while tying into regional and hyper-local resources – providing the ability to distribute compelling content through the writing of professional journalists. As the U.S. sports content provider to dozens of digital and print media publishers through strategic partnerships with the likes of Reuters and Nielsen Sports, FLM covers the nuts and bolts with a breaking news desk and game event coverage.

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