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Conference USA News and Notes

10:00 AM, Oct 14, 2013   |    comments
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EAST CAROLINA: After a spirited rally, East Carolina (4-2, 2-1) suffered a disappointing, 36-33, loss to Tulane in a triple-overtime affair at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. Warren Harvey missed a 34-yard field goal attempt in the first part of the third overtime session which allowed Tulane to hand the Pirates their inaugural C-USA loss of 2013. ECU had trouble finishing off drives as only two of its seven trips to the red zone resulted in touchdowns. It also went 4-of-16 on third-down conversion tries. Shane Carden amassed a school-record 480 passing yards and a touchdown on 41-of-55 efficiency, but also threw a pick and was sacked six times. Justin Hardy set a pair of school records with 17 catches and 230 receiving yards. Vintavious Cooper rushed for 87 yards and two scores to go along with 84 receiving yards on six receptions. Despite the loss, ECU outgained Tulane, 543-310. The Pirates will try to avoid back-to-back losses as they host Southern Miss on Saturday.

FIU: The Panthers (1-5, 1-1) rallied late to tie the score only to lose, 27-24, to UAB as the Blazers' kicker Ty Long drilled a 28-yard field goal with only seconds remaining. While FIU produced 396 yards of total offense, it averaged only 2.6 yards per carry en route to 94 rushing yards. The Panthers also committed two turnovers without forcing any. Jake Medlock completed half of his 34 pass attempts for 302 yards and a pair of touchdowns. He was also picked off once and sacked three times. Silas Spearman tallied just 45 yards on 22 rushes while Ya'Keem Griner made five receptions for 65 yards and a score. FIU allowed 405 yards of total offense. Jordan Davis paced the defense in the loss with 13 total stops. The Panthers have week eight off before they host Louisiana Tech for a cross-divisional matchup on Oct. 26.

FLORIDA ATLANTIC: The Owls (2-5, 1-4) were a few seconds away from an upset before Justin Haig sent a 41-yard field goal attempt through the uprights to give Marshall a 24-23 win over FAU in Boca Raton. Jaquez Johnson had another strong outing as he converted 16-of-28 pass attempts for 187 yards and a touchdown. He also rushed 17 times for a game-high 78 yards and scored on the ground in the fourth quarter to give the Owls a 23-14 lead. While Marshall was limited to only 355 yards of total offense, it racked up 155 yards over the course of its final two drives to survive. FAU finished with 395 total yards and held a 24-18 advantage in first downs achieved. Jonathan Wallace contributed 75 yards and a touchdown on 20 carries. The Owls will have week eight off before their non-conference finale at Auburn on Oct. 26.

LOUISIANA TECH: The Bulldogs (2-4, 1-1) had an open week following their 38-35 win over UTEP in week six. They will return to the gridiron this Saturday when they host North Texas.

MARSHALL: Justin Haig's season-long 41-yard field goal as time expired concluded an outstanding comeback as Marshall (3-3, 2-0) defeated FAU, 24-23, in a very hard-fought road game in Boca Raton. While the Thundering Herd were limited to only 355 yards of total offense, they racked up 155 yards over the course of their final two drives to outlast a feisty Owls unit. Rakeem Cato, who converted 18-of-34 pass attempts for 216 yards and a score, to go along with one interception and a sack. Marshall had trouble moving the ball offensively as it reached the red zone only once and lost the possession battle by over 10 minutes. Jermaine Holmes anchored the Herd's defense with eight tackles and an interception. Gator Hoskins made two catches for 50 yards and a score in the win. Marshall has a bye week before its week nine Thursday night matchup at Middle Tennessee.

MIDDLE TENNESSEE: Although they were facing a team they defeated last season by 17 points, the Blue Raiders (3-4, 1-2) were overmatched this time around and suffered a lopsided, 34-7, setback to North Texas at Apogee Stadium in Denton. The Mean Green tallied 416 yards of total offense compared to just 205 for MTSU, which lost its starting quarterback Logan Kilgore during the first half. His reliever, Austin Grammer, struggled through the air, completing only 6- of-22 attempts for 36 yards and an interception. Grammer compiled 106 rushing yards and a touchdown on 15 attempts, but it was not enough to help the Blue Raiders avoid their third consecutive loss. MT will have this weekend off before its Thursday night home game versus Marshall.

NORTH TEXAS: The Mean Green (3-3, 1-1) earned their first-ever victory in C- USA play as they dismantled Middle Tennessee, 34-7, in a matchup against their former Sun Belt rival. UNT rushed for 303 yards and outgained the Blue Raiders, 416-205, in total yards of offense. Brandin Byrd led the way with 139 yards and a touchdown on 20 carries as the Mean Green broke out of a two-game slump. Reggie Pegram added two scores and 88 yards on 22 carries while Antoinne Jimmerson contributed 72 yards on 10 carries. Derek Thompson passed for 113 yards and a pair of interceptions on 13-of-19 passing. The Mean Green had not completed a wire-to-wire win in their first five games of the season. They will begin a two-game road trip on Saturday with a bout against Louisiana Tech.

RICE: Although their offense stalled for the majority of the second half, the Owls (4-2, 3-0) held on for a 27-21 decision over Texas-San Antonio to improve to 3-0 in league play for the first time since joining the conference in 2005. Charles Ross made his return from injury to lead the team with 59 yards on 11 carries. Taylor McHargue threw for 183 yards and a touchdown on 9-of-21 passing. He also rushed for 41 yards and a touchdown on 10 attempts, while his favorite target, Jordan Taylor, reeled in four catches for 61 yards. Rice won despite being outgained, 434-340, in yards of total offense and achieving only 15 first downs to UTSA's 24. The Roadrunners never had an opportunity to tie after pulling within six late in the contest. Rice will finish off its non- conference slate on Saturday at New Mexico State.

SOUTHERN MISS: The winless Golden Eagles (0-5, 0-1) had their final open week of the season. They will try to snap their active FBS leading losing streak of 16 games this Saturday when they visit Greenville for a matchup with ECU.

TEXAS-EL PASO: A lack of offensive efficiency hurt UTEP (1-5, 0-3) as it was defeated, 34-20, by Tulsa at home. The Golden Hurricane amassed 430 yards of total offense as opposed to 388 by the Miners despite running 14 fewer plays. UTEP lost its fourth straight game as it was held to just one field goal on four red zone trips and went 1-of-3 on fourth-down conversion tries. Jameill Showers completed just 12-of-30 pass attempts for 166 yards and was intercepted twice. Showers added 74 rushing yards and managed to toss one touchdown pass to Jordan Leslie, who gained 102 yards on his four catches. Aaron Jones ran for 90 yards on 15 carries. The Miners have a bye week before their week nine bout with the Owls at Rice.

TULANE: All-American kicker Cairo Santos tied a school record with five made field goals as he connected on a 42-yard attempt to give the Green Wave (5-2, 3-0) a thrilling, 36-33, triple-overtime victory over East Carolina at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. The win was the third in a row for Tulane, which played without its starting quarterback Nick Montana and lost leading rusher Orleans Darkwa to injury after 13 carries. Devin Powell filled in under center to go 23-of-39 for 224 yards. Powell threw two touchdown passes to Ryan Grant in overtime and was intercepted only once in the game. Grant finished with 90 yards on six catches. Although Tulane was outgained, 543-310, in total yards of offense, it held ECU to only two touchdowns on seven red zone trips. Derrik Strozier returned an interception 99 yards for a touchdown on what ended up being a very crucial play. The Green Wave have a bye in week eight before they put their perfect C-USA record on the line against Tulsa.

TULSA: A hot start helped the Golden Hurricane (2-4, 1-1) pick up their first C-USA win of the season as they downed UTEP, 34-20, on the road at the Sun Bowl. Tulsa scored touchdowns on its first three possessions of the game and never looked back to snap a three-game losing slide. Cody Green hit on 14- of-17 pass attempts for 226 yards and accounted for three total touchdowns to lead the way. Trey Watts compiled 142 yards on 27 rushes. Thomas Roberson had five receptions for 105 yards and a touchdown and Keevan Lucas had four catches for 85 yards and a score as well. Tulsa had 430 yards of total offense as opposed to 388 by the Miners despite running 14 fewer plays. The defending conference champions have an open week before they head to New Orleans for a week nine bout against Tulane.

TX-SAN ANTONIO: An initial 20-point deficit was too much to overcome for the Roadrunners (2-5, 1-2), who fell, 27-7, to Rice in front of their home crowd at the Alamodome. UTSA posted 14 points in the fourth quarter to pull within six points, but could get no closer although they held the Owls scoreless for the final 24:48 of the game. The Roadrunners racked up 434 yards on offense, including a season-high 264 on the ground. Eric Soza finished with 170 yards passing, completing 17-of-31 attempts. Soza added 85 yards rushing and two touchdowns on 17 carries, while David Glasco II carried the ball 14 times for 78 yards and a score. Rice won despite being outgained, 434-340, in yards of total offense and achieving only 15 first downs to UTSA's 24. The Roadrunners will take their three-game losing streak into their bye week before hosting UAB on Oct. 26.

UAB: Ty Long's 28-yard field goal in the closing seconds lifted UAB (2-4, 1-1) to a 27-24 victory over FIU in a thrilling bout in Miami. UAB allowed the Panthers to even the score at 24 with only 2:41 remaining before marching down the field to set up Long's game-winning kick. Austin Brown converted 19-of-30 passes for 188 yards and a score. Jordan Howard gained 38 yards on the final drive and registered 159 yards on 20 carries to lead all ball carriers in the game. Darrin Reaves scored two rushing touchdowns for UAB, which won despite being outgained, 405-396, in total yards. The Blazers overcame nine penalties and 72 penalty yards by avoiding any turnovers and registering two takeaways. FIU was limited to only 2.6 yards per carry and 94 rushing yards on 36 totes. UAB has a bye week before its Oct. 26 trip to the Alamodome for a C-USA tilt against Texas-San Antonio.

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