Ugly brawl mars Memphis' 55-48 overtime win against BYU in Miami Beach Bowl

Memphis defensive back Bobby McCain (21) celebrates with the team after Memphis defeated Brigham Young, 55-48 in double overtime during the inaugural Miami Beach Bowl football game, Monday, Dec. 22, 2014, in Miami. (AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee)

If the inaugural Miami Beach Bowl wanted to set the bar high for its future contests, it may have outdone itself.

The first bowl game for Miami Beach and the Marlins stadium went to double overtime before Memphis claimed a 55-48 win.

The win gave Memphis it’s first 10-win season since 1938. The program had combined to win 10 games during the past four seasons.

Unfortunately, the end of the game was marred by a bench-clearing brawl that included as much violence as the game had offense, still it was a contest for the ages and easily the best game of the early bowl season.

Memphis had a 38-28 lead heading into the fourth quarter and BYU looked all but out of it as it struggled to generate any consistent offense. The Tigers rallied from a 28-24 halftime deficit to take control of the game.

However, in the fourth quarter, three big mistakes by Memphis quarterback Paxton Lynch and Memphis' special teams led to 17 points and BYU headed into the waning minutes of the game with a seven-point lead.

Lynch threw an interception early in the fourth quarter that BYU turned into a field goal. On the next possession, the Tigers fumbled the kickoff, which led to a disputed BYU touchdown that tied the game. BYU took the lead on a pick-6 with 7:48 remaining.

On the BYU score that tied the game, running back Paul Lasike not only appeared to be down at the 3-yard line, but he also didn’t appear to get in even after he launched himself toward the goal line.

The play was never reviewed and BYU took the score and the momentum.

However, Memphis composed itself late and Lynch found Keiwone Malone in the end zone with 45 seconds remaining.

BYU had a couple opportunities to win the game late in regulation, but missed on a desperation Hail Mary.

In overtime, Memphis’ defense held BYU to a 45-yard field goal and the Cougars had a similar defensive stand, which backed Memphis up for a 55-yard field goal attempt. Kick Jake Elliott, shanked his first attempt right, but BYU coach Bronco Mendehall called timeout. On his second try, Elliott nailed the 55-yarder right down the middle. It was struck so well, it would have been good from 65 yards.

On the first possession of the second overtime, Lynch found Roderick Proctor for an 11-yard touchdown pass.

On BYU’s possession, quarterback Christian Stewart threw an interception to end the game.

Lynch accounted for seven touchdowns, tying a bowl record set by West Virginia’s Geno Smith in the 2012 Orange Bowl.

As Memphis players were celebrating, many ran toward the BYU sideline, which didn’t sit well with the Cougars. Also, other small fights had broken out in the middle of the field between linemen that soon turned into scuffles with punches being thrown and players trying to stomp on each other. There was even a sucker punch by BYU’s Kai Nacua on Memphis’ Alan Cross, who was being held back by a Memphis coach. It took several minutes after the contest ended to break up the various melees.

Even though this was the end of the season for both teams, suspensions still can be handed out and leveled for the 2015 season. Many players were caught on video doing very bad things, so it’s fair to assume those returning players won’t be playing in their 2015 season openers.

For more Memphis news, TigerSportsReport.com.

For more BYU news, visit CougarNation.com.

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Graham Watson is the editor of Dr. Saturday on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email her at dr.saturday@ymail.com or follow her on Twitter!

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