No. 20 Memphis blows out East Carolina

Pirates finish season at 3-9

Memphis running back Patrick Taylor Jr. outraces the East Carolina defense for a touchdown during the first half at Liberty Bowl Memorial Stadium. (Justin Ford / USA TODAY Sports)

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Senior quarterback Riley Ferguson passed for 299 yards and three touchdowns as No. 20 Memphis rolled to a 70-13 victory over East Carolina Saturday afternoon at Liberty Bowl Memorial Stadium.

Memphis (10-1, 7-1 American Athletic Conference) won its seventh straight and already had clinched the conference’s West Division crown. The Tigers will play East Division winner UCF in Orlando, Fla., on Dec. 2 in the league’s title game.

Ferguson’s day was done late in the third quarter. He completed 9 of 13 passes, averaging 23 yards per attempt.

ECU (3-9, 2-6) finished the season losing three of its last four games. The Pirates entered the game 128th out of 129 FBS programs in scoring defense. Memphis outgained ECU 635-466 in offensive yards.

Memphis flexed its offensive muscle on its first play from scrimmage. Ferguson, the AAC’s leading passer, flicked a short pass to wide receiver Anthony Miller, the league’s leader in receiving yards per game. Miller turned it into an 89-yard touchdown, giving Memphis a 7-0 lead at the 11:46 mark in the first quarter. Miller finished the day with three catches for 144 yards.

After a 10-play drive covering 73 yards and ending with running back Darrell Henderson’s 4-yard touchdown run, the Tigers led 14-0 with 5:07 left in the first quarter. Henderson rushed for 122 yards on 10 carries with two TDs and became the Tigers’ first 1,000-yard rusher since 2009.

Then, with 4:42 left in the first quarter, the defense joined the party as Tigers free safety Jonathan Cook intercepted a pass from ECU quarterback Gardner Minshew and returned it 32 yards for a score and a 21-0 lead. The rout was officially on.

Minshew completed 28 of 54 passes for 351 yards with two TDs and three picks. ECU wideout Trevon Brown finished with seven receptions for 128 yards. Memphis running back Patrick Taylor Jr. rushed six times for 127 yards and two TDs.

The Tigers led 49-0 at the half and had scored seven touchdowns with just 10:30 of possession time.

NOTES: With Saturday’s victory, Memphis went 7-0 at home for the first time in the program’s history. The 1938 Tigers finished 6-0 at home. … Memphis also broke a seven-game losing streak to the Pirates, having not won since Oct. 22, 2005. The Pirates still lead the all-time series 15-7. … ECU is 13-57-1 vs. ranked opponents. The Pirates’ last win over a ranked team came on Sept. 20, 2014, when they beat No. 25 North Carolina 70-41. … The Tigers’ Tony Pollard had a 100-yard kick return for a touchdown in the third quarter. It was his fourth of the season, which leads the nation.