Conference USA News and Notes
Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) -
EAST CAROLINA: The Pirates (6-2, 4-1) scored a pair of touchdowns in the fourth quarter to pull away for a 34-13 decision over FIU in Miami. Shane Carden led the way by completing 23-of-35 pass attempts for 264 yards and three touchdowns. Justin Hardy caught five passes for 136 yards and a TD, and also threw a 35-yard touchdown pass to Isaiah Jones to give ECU a two- possession led in the final frame. Vintavious Cooper added 48 yards and a score on 14 carries to help the Pirates outgain the Panther, 373-267, in total yards of offense. Kyle Tudor anchored the defense with 10 tackles and Montese Overton registered three sacks for a loss of 24 yards. The Pirates are now bowl eligible for the seventh time in eight years. They will host Tulsa on Saturday as they continue their quest for a berth in the C-USA title game.
FIU: The Panthers (1-7, 1-3) suffered their third straight loss as they fell, 34-13, to East Carolina at FIU Stadium. FIU rallied back from a 21-3 deficit and trailed by just one possession at 21-13 at the start of the fourth quarter, but it was outscored 13-0 the rest of the way. E.J. Hilliard did a decent job under center, completing 21-of-33 pass attempts for 194 yards, but he was intercepted once and sacked nine times. Jonnu Smith had a productive outing with 97 yards on 10 receptions. Due to ECU's high total of quarterback takedowns, the Panthers finished the game with only 73 rushing yards on 43 attempts. Silas Spearman accounted for the team's only touchdown with a one- yard run late in the first half. Despite the loss, FIU moved the chains 23 times compared to 17 downs by ECU. The Panthers hope to snap their current three-game losing streak this Saturday at Middle Tennessee.
FLORIDA ATLANTIC: After the unexpected resignations of head coach Carl Pelini and defensive coordinator Pete Rekstis, the Owls (3-6, 2-4) kept their bowl game hopes alive with a tremendous 34-17 win over Tulane at FAU Stadium. Interim head coach Brian Wright earned his first win as a head coach in the process as his squad overcame a 17-7 halftime deficit by intercepting passes on Tulane's first four drives of the second half. D'Joun Smith accounted for three of the picks to tie the school record and now has seven interceptions on the season, which is the most in the nation. Jaquez Johnson did a great job leading the offense and he set a school record for rushing touchdowns by a quarterback in a season with his seventh and eighth scores on the year. Johnson threw for 107 yards and ran for 114 more as FAU held a sizeable 331-167 advantage in total yards of offense and tallied 19 first downs to the Green Wave's total of nine. Damian Fortner added 39 yards rushing and a touchdown on 11 carries, while William Dukes caught three balls for 68 yards and a score. FAU will have a bye week before it visits Southern Miss on Nov. 16.
LOUISIANA TECH: The Bulldogs (3-5, 2-2) had an open week following their 16- point road victory at FIU on Oct. 26. They will try to notch their second straight win on Saturday when they host Southern Miss.
MARSHALL: The Thundering Herd (5-3, 3-1) bounced back as they coasted to a 61-13 rout of Southern Miss at Joan C. Edwards Stadium behind a sensational performance by Rakeem Cato. Marshall amassed 636 yards of offense in the contest while averaging 11.3 yards per carry as a team. Cato completed 21- of-28 attempts for 262 yards and five touchdowns to tie Chad Pennington's school record for consecutive games with a scoring pass at 26. Tommy Shuler finished with 10 catches for 76 yards and two scores, while Davonte Allen also registers a pair of touchdown receptions to help Marshall extend its longest home winning streak since 2008 to six in a row. On the ground, Kevin Grooms ran for 109 yards and a TD, while Essray Taliaferro had 108 rushing yards and a score. Marshall played well defensively as well, recording five sacks, 11 TFL and a couple of takeaways. The Herd will try to clinch bowl eligibility next week when they welcome UAB to Huntington.
MIDDLE TENNESSEE: Cody Clark connected on an 18-yard field goal attempt in the closing seconds to lift the Blue Raiders (5-4, 3-2) to a 24-21 victory over UAB in a thriller at Legion Field. Middle Tennessee overcame a deficit in the fourth quarter for the second straight week as it posted 17 points over the final 15 minutes to secure the win. Logan Kilgore completed 11-of-22 attempts for 160 yards with two touchdowns and one interception. Marcus Henry made five catches for 136 yards including a 93-yard touchdown reception. Reggie Whatley tallied 155 yards on just 15 carries to help the Blue Raiders overcome the absence of star tailback Jordan Parker. Although UAB finished the game with 19 first downs and held Middle Tennessee scoreless through the first two quarters of play, the Blue Raiders held a 429-356 edge in total yards of offense. Now within a single game of becoming bowl eligible, Middle Tennessee will take aim at its third straight win on Saturday when it welcomes FIU to Murfreesboro.
NORTH TEXAS: The Mean Green (6-3, 4-1) overcame a nine-point deficit by holding Rice scoreless over the final 39:06 en route to a 28-16 decision over the Owls in Denton. The win made NT bowl eligible for the first time since 2004. Derek Thompson hit on seven of his 13 pass attempts for 104 yards and a touchdown while Breland Chancellor made a big play with a punt return for a score. Antoinne Jimmerson tallied eight carries for 62 yards and a touchdown. He also scored on a 46-yard reception in the third quarter to give the Mean Green a comfortable 12-point cushion. Zachary Orr also impacted the game dramatically with nine total tackles and a 55-yard fumble return for six points. Marcus Trice also made his mark with two interceptions, including a pick late in the fourth quarter that prevented the Owls' chances of a late rally. NT picked up its fourth straight win despite allowing the Owls to hold a 355-253 edge in total yards of offense. It will look for its fifth consecutive win on Saturday when it hosts Texas-El Paso.
RICE: The Owls (6-3, 4-1) had their five-game winning streak come to an end as they were downed, 28-16, by North Texas in a crucial West Division battle at Apogee Stadium. Rice got off to a great start and built a 16-7 lead by the 9:06 point of the second quarter, but it allowed the Mean Green to tally 21 consecutive points to close out the contest. Although the Owls outgained NT by 102 total yards of offense and had 20 first downs to the Mean Green's total of 13, they were unable to overcome their three turnovers, two of which were returned for NT defensive TDs. Taylor McHargue was 18-for-28 passing for 222 yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions, while Jordan Taylor and Turner Petersen finished with one receiving score apiece. Julius White led the Rice defense with a season-high nine tackles. Phillip Gaines added an interception in the fourth quarter. The special teams made a drastic error as it allowed a punt return touchdown. Rice had not lost a conference game since falling to Tulsa on Oct. 20, 2012 and now are one of three teams in the West Division with a single loss in league action. The Owls will have a week off before they host Louisiana Tech in week 12.
SOUTHERN MISS: Despite a strong showing from freshman signal caller Nick Mullens, the Golden Eagles (0-8, 0-4) were defeated, 61-13, by Marshall at Joan C. Edwards Stadium. The loss was the 20th in a row as USM was unable to snap the longest active losing streak among FBS schools. Mullens connected on 24-of-48 pass attempts for a career-high 323 yards with one touchdown and one interception. Markese Triplett caught four passes for 123 yards and a score to register the first 100-yard receiving game of his career. Although the Golden Eagles racked up 397 yards of total offense, they allowed Marshall to finish with 636 total yards. The contest was a one-sided affair from the start as the Herd took a 28-0 lead near the end of the first quarter and never looked back. USM will try to earn its first victory since the 2011 campaign on Saturday when it visits Louisiana Tech for an cross-divisional matchup.
TEXAS-EL PASO: The Miners (1-7, 0-4) took an early 7-2 lead over Texas A&M in the first quarter, but their advantage evaporated quickly as Johnny Manziel accounted for six touchdowns to push the 12th-ranked Aggies to a 57-7 victory at Kyle Field. The loss was the sixth in a row for the Miners, who allowed a program record of 564 yards of total offense to Texas A&M. UTEP was held to only 198 total yards and converted a season low 4-of-15 third-down conversions. Aaron Jones rushed 22 times for 62 times and the team's only score, while Blaire Sullivan managed only 71 yards on 9-of-17 passing and tied his career-high with three interceptions. Jones now has the program record for rushing yards by a freshman in a season with 805. The Miners will return to league play this week as they visit in-state rival North Texas.
TULANE: A second half collapse caused by turnovers sunk the Green Wave (6-3, 4-1) as they were defeated, 34-17, by the Florida Atlantic Owls in Boca Raton. Tulane was held without a touchdown pass and lost to a C-USA rival for the first time this season, as Nick Montana finished with only 73 yards on 7-of-22 passing. He was picked off three times in the contest as FAU scored 27 unanswered points after intermission to erase the Green Wave's 17-7 halftime advantage and snap their four-game winning streak. Devin Powell also saw time at quarterback and finished 4-of-9 for 34 yards and another pick. All four of the interceptions came on consecutive drives to begin the second half. Orleans Darkwa ran for 45 yards and a score on 11 carries in the loss, while Lorenzo Doss accounted for the team's only touchdown with a 69-yard interception return just four minutes after the opening kickoff. FAU held a 331-167 edge in total yards of offense as Tulane went 4-of-15 on third-down conversion tries.
TULSA: The reigning C-USA champions continued to struggle as the Golden Hurricane (2-6, 1-3) were defeated, 34-15, at H.A. Chapman Stadium by Texas- San Antonio. Tulsa's offense got off to a terrible start as its first drive ended with an interception in the UTSA red zone and it lost a pair of fumbles later in the opening frame. The Golden Hurricane also turned the ball over on downs after they were stopped on fourth down at the Roadrunners' 2-yard line. The inefficiency of the offense allowed the first-year C-USA member to jump out to a 24-0 lead by the end of the first half. Trey Watts paced the attack with 113 yards on the ground and 40 more on five receptions, but he had a costly fumble on a punt return that led to a UTSA touchdown. Keevan Lucas finished the game with a career-best 87 receiving yards on five receptions. Cody Green, Dane Evans and Joseph Calcagni all saw action under center. The trio combined for 221 yards on 25-of-45 efficiency. Green and Evans were both intercepted by Tristan Wade, who returned one of the picks 82 yards for a touchdown. Tulsa will try to avoid its third loss in a row on Saturday when it takes on the East Division leading East Carolina Pirates in Greenville.
TX-SAN ANTONIO: The Roadrunners (4-5, 3-2) pitched their inaugural first half shutout of an FBS opponent in school history and held off Tulsa over the final 30 minutes of action to secure a 34-15 road win over the defending C-USA Champions at Hurricane Stadium. UTSA received a huge boost from junior safety Triston Wade, who recorded his first interception of the season to stop the Golden Hurricane's opening drive before returning a pick 82 yards for a score in the fourth frame. Wade now has a program record eight interceptions in his career. Nic Johnson also converted a turnover into points as he scooped up a muffed punt in the end zone. The Roadrunners' defense forced four turnovers in total and held Tulsa to a mere average of 4.7 yards per offensive play. David Glasco II set a new program record with 135 rushing yards on 21 carries. Eric Soza completed 16-of-20 passes for 114 yards and a touchdown while also tallying 43 yards on the ground. Kam Jones caught four passes for 34 yards and also scored a touchdown on an 84-yard rush. UTSA will try to collect its third straight win on Saturday when it hosts Tulane at the Alamodome.
UAB: Although they led by six points in the fourth quarter, the Blazers (2-6, 1-3) faltered down the stretch to drop a 24-21 decision at home to Middle Tennessee. UAB showed fight after falling behind, 21-13, with only 6:26 remaining as Jonathan Perry led the offense down the field before connecting with Jamarcus Nelson on a 21-yard touchdown play to bring the Blazers within two points. Perry then dashed across the goal line to tie the score at 21, but UAB's defense allowed Middle Tennessee to rack up 33 yards on two separate plays to set up a game-winning 18-yard field goal in the closing seconds. The Blazers amassed 299 rushing yards and attempted passes on just nine of their 65 offensive plays. Jordan Howard racked up 154 yards on 23 carries, while Darrin Reaves rushed 27 times for 119 yards and a score. Perry hit on 6-of-9 pass attempts for 57 yards and a touchdown, while Vashon Landers anchored the defense with eight tackles. The Blazers had two players gain over 100 yards on the ground in the same game for the first time since 2009. Things will not get any easier for the Blazers as they are set to visit Marshall on Saturday.
11/04 10:37:41 ET