Memphis, TN (Sports Network) - Jacob Karam and Eric Mathews each threw a touchdown pass as Memphis head coach Justin Fuente claimed his first win with a 14-10 triumph over the Rice Owls in Conference USA play at Liberty Bowl Stadium.
Karam converted 8-of-12 passes for 70 yards for the Tigers (1-4, 1-0 CUSA) but was sacked four times in the close call. Mathews hit on one of his two pass attempts for an 11-yard TD to Alan Cross in the third quarter which proved to be the game winner.
With the victory the Tigers snapped and eight-game slide which was tied for the second-longest losing streak in the nation coming into the week.
The Owls (1-5, 0-3), losers of four straight now, struggled on offense as quarterback Taylor McHargue converted 16-of-30 passes for 117 yards and was sacked two times. The team ran for a total of 104 yards, their 221 yards of total offense a far cry from the 445.6 ypg the team was generating heading into the weekend.
Rice put the first points on the board early in the first quarter when Phillip Gaines scooped up a fumble and carried it 12 yards into the end zone at the 12:59 mark of the period to give the visitors a 7-0 lead. Owls kicker Chris Boswell made it 10-0 in the second quarter with a successful 36-yard field goal.
The Tigers were awarded a touchdown midway through the third quarter when Karam threw a pass to the back of the end zone and Keiwone Malone managed to get his left foot down before sliding out of the end zone. Malone finished with two catches for 26 yards.
Memphis moved ahead by four points with just over three minutes remaining in the third when Mathews hooked up with Cross to cap an eight-play, 64-yard drive.
Rice, penalized eight times for 64 yards, converted just 4-of-16 on third down in the outing.
Prior to tonight, the Tigers last tasted victory with a 33-17 triumph over Tulane on Oct. 22, 2011.