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(Saturday, November 24)
Final Score: Rice 33, Texas-El Paso 24
El Paso, TX (Sports Network) - Charles Ross rushed for 154 yards and two touchdowns as the Rice Owls closed out the regular season with a 33-24 win over the Texas-El Paso Miners in Conference USA action at the Sun Bowl.
Taylor McHargue completed 21-of-30 passes for the Owls (6-6, 4-4 C-USA), who became bowl eligible with the win. The majority of McHargue's passes went to Vance McDonald, who caught nine balls for 99 yards.
For UTEP (3-9, 2-6), Nick Lamaison threw for 249 yards and two touchdowns, but he completed just 8-of-22 pass attempts and was sacked four times. Nathan Jeffery rushed for 95 yards and a score, while Michael Edwards (five receptions, 121 yards) and Jordan Leslie (three receptions, 168 yards) were on the receiving end of the touchdown strikes.
UTEP wasted no time putting points on the board, as Lamaison connected on a 65-yard touchdown pass to Leslie less than three minutes into the game to give it an early advantage. Chris Boswell kicked a 43-yard field goal later in the quarter for Rice to cut the lead to 7-3.
The Owls went up 10-7 early in the second quarter on a four-yard touchdown rush by Ross, but the Miners answered on their next drive when Lamaison hooked up with Edwards on a four-yard scoring strike.
The back-and-forth nature of the second quarter continued when Jeremy Eddington scored on a six-yard rush for the Owls, as they took a 17-14 lead into halftime.
UTEP got the momentum back at the start of the second half when Nathan Jeffery recovered an Owl fumble in the end zone, as it regained the lead, 21-17.
Rice chipped away at the lead later in the third quarter with another Boswell field goal, this time from 51 yards out.
The Owls took the lead once again six minutes into the fourth quarter on a Ross nine-yard rushing touchdown. After failed two-point conversion, the score remained 26-21.
The Miners ate into the lead with a 35-yard field goal from Steven Valadez a few minutes later, but the Owls put an exclamation point on the win on the ensuing kickoff when Eddington returned it 97 yards for a touchdown.
Rice converted 11-of-19 third down attempts on the evening, while UTEP was just 1-of-11. The Owls also held a commanding 15 minute advantage in time of possession.
11/24 23:33:30 ET
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