DURHAM, N.C. (AP) — Memphis seemingly couldn't do anything right unless Duke first did something wrong. And, once those mistakes stopped coming, the Tigers were in big trouble.
Memphis managed just 54 total yards and no points in the second half of a 38-14 loss at Duke on Saturday night.
The Tigers (0-4) led 14-7 in the second quarter with their touchdowns coming immediately after miscues by Duke. Wynton McManus took an interception 4 yards for a score and Tevin Jones added a 2-yard TD run after a breakdown in kickoff coverage by the Blue Devils allowed a 95-yard return by Bobby McCain.
And, though the defense kept them in the game for a while, ultimately it wasn't enough. Duke scored the final 31 points.
"The bottom line is that it's not going to say that the offense lost and the defense won," Memphis coach Justin Fuente said. "The Memphis Tigers didn't get it done. If holding them to zero points is what we've got to do to win, then that's what we've got to do. If it's running the ball 50 times in a row and holding the ball and scoring three points to win, that's what we've got to do. We fell short again."
The Tigers have lost 35 of 40 games since 2009. After Jones' TD with 9:17 left before the half, Memphis didn't run another play in Duke territory until there were 5½ minutes left in the game.
"Duke thoroughly dominated us, their defense vs. our offense," Fuente said. "It was pretty evident. It's hard to win when you get handled like that on one side of the ball."
Sean Renfree was 26 of 37 for 314 yards with four touchdowns — covering 37 and 31 yards to Conner Vernon, 16 yards to Desmond Scott and 8 yards to Brandon Connette. The Blue Devils (3-1) outgained the Tigers 500-152 and are off to their best start since 2008.
"It just goes to show the depth and talent we have on this team, and the will to fight. Nobody was ready to back down, lay down," Vernon said. "We knew we weren't playing Duke football like we usually do, and we just had to come out and execute."
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