2:00 PM ET, October 2, 2004
Liberty Bowl, MEMPHIS, TN
MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) -- DeAngelo Williams had a day full of records, but Memphis coach Tommy West was just as pleased his Tigers showed they could overcome a loss.
Memphis (4-1, 1-1 Conference USA) used four touchdowns by Williams and a school-record 262 yards rushing Saturday to defeat Houston 41-14. The convincing win showed the Tigers could rebound after suffering their first loss of the season at UAB a week earlier.
"Our players responded to a loss unbelievable, I think," West said. "We could have easily felt sorry for ourselves. Our perfect season was gone and everything else. The world was coming to an end. But we didn't fall for it."
The Tigers went back to throwing the ball and handing off to Williams in a one-back set. The 5-foot-10 junior responded by breaking a single-game rushing record held by Paul "Skeeter" Gowen since 1969. Williams' touchdowns came on runs of 24, 39 and a pair of 3-yarders.
If not for a rather insignificant fourth-quarter Houston touchdown -- a 56-yard pass from Kevin Kolb to Vincent Marshall -- Williams may have never gotten a shot at Gowen's mark.
West was prepared to take his starters out until the Cougar touchdown cut the Tiger lead to 34-14 with about nine minutes left.
"I put him back in the game because I thought we had to have a couple of first downs just to run some clock," West said. "I was not aware he was about to break that record, ...(but) I'm tickled to death he broke it."
The record-breaking run came on Williams' fourth touchdown, also tying a school record for touchdowns in a game.
Earlier, Williams broke the career rushing mark previously held by Dave Casinelli, the Tiger fullback who rushed for 2,636 from 1960-63. With Saturday's performance, Williams has 2,866 and was given the game ball after the Houston win. He plans to hand off the ball to the Casinelli family.
If that wasn't enough, Williams also set a mark for rushing yards against a Houston offense, breaking the mark of 246 set by LSU's Kevin Faulk in 1996.
Houston's only other score came on a 75-yard interception by Willie Gaston. The Cougars ( 1-4, 1-1) managed 285 of offense, but only 65 on the ground.
"We definitely had a hard time maintaining momentum," Houston coach Art Briles said.
Memphis, which had struggled offensively in the first half of previous games, got untracked early. The Tigers jumped out to a 21-0 halftime lead after Williams scored twice and quarterback Danny Wimprine hooked up with Chris Kelley for a 27-yard touchdown. Memphis kicker Stephen Gostkowski had a pair of second-half field goals, from 47 and 30 yards, to round out the Tiger scoring.
The difference, West said, was a change in attitude, where they start thinking about throwing the ball "getting off the bus."
"We told our guys that we were going to come in and let it loose," West said. "You've got to respond and make it happen. Just because you come in there and let it fly, doesn't mean it will work. The players have got to make it work."
A reeling Houston team doesn't have much time to work out the kinks. They face Southern Mississippi at Hattiesburg Thursday.
"It was sporadic play calling on my part, and we did not have our team totally prepared," Briles said of the Memphis game. "It was a deal where I did not do a good job, but I thought our players played hard."
Team Stat Comparison
|3rd Down Conversions||5-14||7-15|
|4th Down Conversions||0-3||2-2|
|TD||8:40||DEANGELO WILLIAMS 24 YD RUN (STEPHEN GOSTKOWSKI KICK)|
Drive info: 2 plays, 34 yards.
|TD||3:20||CHRIS KELLEY 27 YD PASS FROM DANNY WIMPRINE (STEPHEN GOSTKOWSKI KICK)|
Drive info: 9 plays, 54 yards.
|TD||14:25||DEANGELO WILLIAMS 39 YD RUN (STEPHEN GOSTKOWSKI KICK)|
Drive info: 5 plays, 79 yards.
|TD||10:36||WILLIE GASTON 75 YD INTERCEPTION RETURN (DUSTIN BELL KICK)||7||21|
|FG||6:31||STEPHEN GOSTKOWSKI 47 YD FG|
Drive info: 10 plays, 45 yards.
|TD||0:15||DEANGELO WILLIAMS 3 YD RUN (STEPHEN GOSTKOWSKI KICK)|
Drive info: 8 plays, 60 yards.
|FG||10:28||STEPHEN GOSTKOWSKI 30 YD FG|
Drive info: 7 plays, 29 yards.
|TD||8:59||VINCENT MARSHALL 56 YD PASS FROM KEVIN KOLB (DUSTIN BELL KICK)|
Drive info: 3 plays, 58 yards.
|TD||4:03||DEANGELO WILLIAMS 3 YD RUN (STEPHEN GOSTKOWSKI KICK)|
Drive info: 11 plays, 80 yards.