Defense leads Memphis to 38-7 win over Tulane
NEW ORLEANS (AP) Bobby McCain and Dontrell Nelson each had interception returns for touchdowns to help Memphis beat Tulane 38-7 on Saturday.
Memphis (7-3, 5-1 American) forced a season-high five turnovers, ruining Tulane's first on-campus homecoming in four decades.
McCain intercepted Tanner Lee's first pass and returned it 15 yards for a touchdown and Memphis never looked back, taking a 31-0 into the fourth quarter.
Memphis remains in contention for a conference title and its first bowl bid since 2008.
Trailing 17-0 late in the third quarter, Lee hit Justyn Shackleford for a 19-yard gain, giving Tulane (3-7, 2-4) a first down near midfield. Two plays later, however, Nelson sealed Memphis' fourth consecutive win with a 58-yard interception return for a touchdown.
Paxton Lynch completed 14 of 25 passes for 178 yards and a score and added a 4-yard rushing touchdown in the win.
Lee was 26-of-48 passing for 196 yards with three interceptions.
Memphis converted only 2 of 14 third downs, but the Tigers' defense stifled Tulane, coming within two minutes of posting its second shutout of the season.
Tulane's Dontrell Hilliard scored on a 19-yard run with 1:55 left.
The Green Wave entered the game with a plus-7 turnover margin that ranked among the nation's best, but was minus-3 against Memphis.
Tulane's defense did its part, allowing Memphis to score only one TD through most of the first three quarters. Tulane also created a pair of turnovers on fumbles.
But the Green Wave offense struggled to move the ball, and also botched a pair of field goal opportunities in the first half, allowing Memphis to take a 10-0 lead into halftime.
Kicker Andrew DiRocco hooked his first attempt wide left from 42 yards and didn't even get his second attempt off because of a bad snap.
Hilliard rushed for 65 yards, but fumbled twice.