Conference USA News and Notes

11:21 AM, Sep 23, 2013   |    comments
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EAST CAROLINA: The Pirates (2-1) had the week off following their tough home loss to Virginia Tech. ECU will look to bounce back on Saturday as it takes on instate rival North Carolina in Chapel Hill.

FIU: The Panthers (0-4) continued to struggle in the post-Mario Cristobal era as they lost, 72-0, to the seventh-ranked Louisville Cardinals at Papa John's Cardinal Stadium. FIU was limited to just two first downs and 30 yards of total offense by the Cardinals, who amassed 464 yards of offense with 254 of them coming through the air. E.J. Hilliard passed for 27 yards on 4-of-9 efficiency and was sacked four times. FIU averaged 0.1 yards per attempt on 34 carries. The Panthers hope to end their current five-game losing slide after a bye week at Southern Miss.

FLORIDA ATLANTIC: The Owls (1-3) came up just short of their second straight win as they fell, 42-35, to Middle Tennessee in an overtime thriller at home. Jaquez Johnson accounted for a career-high five total touchdowns (three passing, two rushing). He completed 31-of-50 passes for 321 yards but also threw a pair of interceptions. Johnson found eight different receivers on the afternoon, with Daniel McKinney (82 yards, TD) and William Dukes (73 yards, TD) the primary beneficiaries. Johnson tied the game up with nine seconds left as he connected with Lucky Whitehead for a touchdown to force overtime, but he threw an interception on the final play of the overtime. FAU will try to pick up its first-ever C-USA win next week at Rice.

LOUISIANA TECH: The Bulldogs (1-3) lost their second straight as Matthew Wyman's 52-yard field goal as time expired pushed Kansas to a thrilling 13-10 win in a non-conference bout at Memorial Stadium. Ryan Higgins hit on 35-of-55 pass attempts for 289 yards and a score, but he tossed one interception and was sacked three times in the loss. Kenneth Dixon registered his second 100- yard game of the season and the eight of his career as he ran for a game-high 129 yards on 18 carries. Louisiana Tech took a 10-3 lead into the fourth quarter before allowing 10 unanswered points to end the game. The Bulldogs will finish off their non-conference schedule next week when they host Army.

MARSHALL: The Thundering Herd (2-2) fell once again despite a strong effort as they were defeated, 29-21, in triple overtime by Virginia Tech at Lane Stadium. Rakeem Cato, who connected on 19-of-41 passes for 228 yards and two scores, was picked off two times and suffered four sacks. Cato's final pass to Davonte Allen that would have given Marshall a chance for a two-point conversion to extend the game fell through the sophomore wideout's fingers. Essray Taliaferro had a strong showing as he gained 105 yards on 26 rushes. Cato also added 46 yards and a touchdown on 15 attempts. Tommy Shuler had another strong outing as he reeled in 10 catches for 120 yards. The Herd's defense held the Hokies to just seven points for the first 56:51 of the game before Virginia Tech's late touchdown and overtime points. Justin Haig missed his first field goal try in the third quarter and had his second, which would have given MU the win in overtime, blocked. The Herd will have a bye week before they try to end their losing slide in their C-USA opener against Texas- San Antonio at home.

MIDDLE TENNESSEE: The Blue Raiders (3-1) notched their second consecutive win as they claimed a 42-35 win over FAU in an overtime thriller in Boca Raton. Reggie Whatley rushed for 154 yards and three touchdowns on just 10 carries for Middle Tennessee, while Jordan Parker (28 carries, 115 yards, TD) also crossed the century mark rushing. Logan Kilgore completed 13-of-23 passes for 150 yards with two touchdowns and a pick. Tavarres Jefferson was Kilgore's top target with five receptions for 66 yards. MT's defense registered four sacks, with three of those coming courtesy of Dearco Nolan. Kilgore put the Blue Raiders on top in the extra period with a 19-yard touchdown pass to Kyle Griswould and Kevin Byard registered the game-clinching interception on the final play of the contest. The Blue Raiders will conclude their non-conference slate on Friday at BYU.

NORTH TEXAS: The Mean Green held their own at nationally-ranked Georgia, even tying the game up early in the third quarter, but they could not keep pace down the stretch as they ultimately fell, 45-21. North Texas (2-2) made its mark with two outstanding special teams plays, with Brelan Chancellor returning a kickoff 99 yards for a touchdown and Zac Whitfield recovering Marcus Trice's blocked punt in the end zone for another score. Derek Thompson completed 21-of-36 passes for 202 yards with a touchdown and an interception. Darnell Smith had six receptions for 39 yards and was on the receiving end of Thompson's scoring strike, a 20-yarder in the second quarter. The rushing attack could get nothing going against the Bulldogs' front, amassing just seven yards on 25 attempts. NT has off next week and will kick off conference play on Oct. 5 at Tulane.

RICE: The Owls (1-2) were outdueled in the battle for the Bayou Bucket for the third straight year as they fell, 31-26, to Houston at Reliant Stadium. Taylor McHargue completed 21-of-36 passes for 232 yards and an interception. McHargue did run for a touchdown but the only passing touchdown for Rice came from Luke Turner, a backup running back who lined up at quarterback in a wildcat formation. Turner Petersen, who caught the touchdown pass, had five catches for 102 yards. Darik Dillard led the Owls in rushing with 61 yards on nine carries. Rice blocked a field goal attempt and Alex Lyons returned it 62 yards for a touchdown late in the contest to make it a five-point game. The Owls managed to recover the ensuing onside kick as well, but their offense stalled which ended their pursuit of the win. Rice begins its C-USA slate next week at home versus FAU.

SOUTHERN MISS: The Golden Eagles (0-3) had a week off following their 24-3 loss at Arkansas. They will try to snap their 15-game losing streak next week at Boise State.

TEXAS-EL PASO: The Miners (1-2) struggled to get anything going offensively in their 32-13 loss to Texas-San Antonio. Autrey Golden scored on a kick return and also led the Miners on the ground with 39 yards on six carries. UTEP failed to score an offensive touchdown as its final two drives ended on downs. It went 6-of-15 on third down conversion attempts and settled for field goals on both visits to the red zone. Jameill Showers went 17-of-31 for 119 yards in the loss. The Miners will look to even up their record next week at Colorado State.

TULANE: The Green Wave (2-2) dropped to the .500 mark as they were routed, 52-17, by Syracuse at the Carrier Dome. Nick Montana threw for 213 yards on 22-of-38 efficiency with one touchdown and one interception. Rob Kelley ran for 56 yards and touchdown on seven carries, while Justyn Shackleford tallied seven receptions for 106 yards and a score. Ryan Grant made seven catches for 70 yards in the loss. Although the Orange held only a 405-330 edge in total yards of offense, they managed to score seven touchdowns to Tulane's two. Syracuse converted 7-of-14 third downs and scored on all eight of its red zone possessions. The Green Wave end their non-conference season next week at ULM.

TULSA: The Golden Hurricane (1-2) had a bye week after their 31-point loss at Oklahoma. They return to action on Thursday when they host Iowa State.

TX-SAN ANTONIO: The Roadrunners (2-2) made a strong impression in their C-USA debut as they dispatched UTEP, 32-13, behind a strong showing from Eric Soza, who completed 18-of-24 pass attempts for 204 yards and a score. UTSA gained 385 yards of total offense and limited the Miners to just 218 on the night. Neither side committed a turnover in the contest. David Glasco gained 52 yards and a touchdown on 10 attempts while Brandon Freeman led the team with 53 yards receiving on one catch. The win ended a two-game skid for UTSA, which will conclude its non-conference slate at home versus Houston on Saturday.

UAB: The Blazers (1-2) earned their first win of the campaign as they downed FCS foe Northwestern State, 52-28, at Legion Field. Darrin Reaves racked up 178 yards and two touchdowns on only 17 carries, while Austin Brown went 10- of-20 passing for 159 yards with two scores to one interception. Kennard Backman and Jamarcus Nelson combined for 122 yards receiving and caught one touchdown pass apiece. UAB held a 454-344 edge in total yards of offense although both sides accumulated 21 first downs. The Blazers will try to take down an FBS opponent next week as they visit Vanderbilt.

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