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October 14, 2008

UTEP football team report

Inside Slant

For the first time in school history, UTEP has overcome a 0-3 start to square its record at .500. The Miners (3-3, 3-0 C-USA) rallied late to beat Tulane (2-4, 1-2) in the rain at the Sun Bowl on Oct. 11, 24-21.

"I think this game sums up our team," coach Mike Price said. "I hope it sumps up our season."

Trevor Vittatoe connected with wide receiver Jeff Moturi for a 68-yard touchdown with 4:22 remaining, giving UTEP its first lead since it was 7-0.

"Vittatoe did a marvelous job of handling the offense," Price said. "It was a huge catch (for Moturi). It couldn't happen to a better kid. Everybody on the team believes in him. He had some drops, and maybe this will be the turning point."

Vittatoe passed for 296 yards and three touchdowns, and Donald Buckram rushed for a career-high 107 yards to help the Miners overcome a 255-yard rushing performance by Andre Anderson.

UTEP had started a season 0-3 on 14 previous occasions.

Season Recap:

Buffalo 42, UTEP 17: The Miners' first trek to New York State was not enjoyable, as the Bulls got four touchdown passes from Drew Willy and rolled up 484 yards of offense. Buffalo's James Starks rushed for 179 yards, Brandon Thermilus ran for 102 and two TDs and Naaman Roosevelt caught four passes for 154 yards and two scores.

Texas 42, UTEP 13: An overflow record crowd of 53,415 at the Sun Bowl (capacity 51,500) attended the highly anticipated, first-ever visit from the Longhorns, but Colt McCoy passed for 282 yards and four touchdowns as 10th-ranked Texas spoiled the party. Trevor Vittatoe passed for 267 yards and a touchdown and [/db]Terrell Jackson[/db] tallied 122 yards from scrimmage to lead the Miners.

New Mexico State 34, UTEP 33: Chase Holbrook passed for 329 yards and five scores to power the Aggies to a narrow win in El Paso in the 86th meeting between the Interstate 10 rivals. Backup quarterback James Thomas II gained 142 of UTEP's 277 rushing yards and scored two touchdowns, but three turnovers and two empty trips inside the red zone doomed the Miners.

Utep 58, Ucf 13: The Miners ended a nine-game losing skid by forcing six turnovers, including two fumbles recovered for touchdowns in a convincing win at the Sun Bowl vs. the defending C-USA champs. Jose Martinez's 64-yard field goal was the second-longest in NCAA history without a tee, Trevor Vittatoe passed for 263 yards and three TDs and Cornelius Brown had two interceptions and a blocked punt.

UTEP 40, Southern Miss 37 (2OT): Trevor Vittatoe's fourth touchdown pass was a game-winning 6-yard strike to Kris Adams in the second overtime. Vittatoe threw for 266 yards and completed passes to 11 different targets in Hattiesburg. The Miners won their second straight game despite allowing 541 yards, including 260 rushing yards by Damion Fletcher.

UTEP 24, Tulane 21: Trevor Vittatoe threw a 68-yard touchdown pass to Jeff Moturi with 4:22 remaining in the fourth quarter to beat the Green Wave and get the Miners back to .500 after a 0-3 start to the season. Vittatoe passed for 296 yards and three scores, and the UTEP defense shut out Tulane in the second half. Andre Anderson ran for 255 yards and three touchdowns in a losing effort.

Notes, Quotes

• RB Daniel Palmer, a true freshman, scored his first career touchdown with 9:00 left in the second quarter on an 8-yard reception. He had two catches for 17 yards, and 19 yards on nine carries.

• WR Jeff Moturi caught four passes for 88 yards, with 68 of those yards coming on a game-winning fourth-quarter touchdown reception. It was the junior's longest catch since a 78-yarder last season against Tulsa.

Game Ball Goes To: QB Trevor Vittatoe-The sophomore completed 21 of 32 passes for 296 yards with three touchdowns and no turnovers. His 68-yard touchdown pass to Jeff Moturi with 4:22 remaining was the game-winner.

Keep An Eye On: RB Donald Buckram-He set career highs with 20 carries for 107 yards, a 5.3-yard average, and caught two passes for another 15 yards.

Quote To Note: "There wasn't a moment of doubt. It was just a matter of time. We had a lot of advantages. It was their first road trip in a month, they were banged up and they were playing in a hostile environment."-UTEP coach Mike Price.

Strategy And Personnel

Looking Good: UTEP rushed for 156 yards on 34 attempts (4.6 average) and has now gained at least 100 yards on the ground in five straight games, matching the longest streak of the Mike Price era.

LB Adam Vincent led the Miners with 12 tackles and DE Ja-Boy Leomiti registered six tackles, one sack and two pass breakups.

P Gregg Hiett replaced starter Kyle Petersen and had a nice game against Tulane, with three of his four punts pinning the Green Wave inside the 20-yard line-including once at the 1-yard line with 15 seconds left in the game.

Still Needs Work: Tulane rolled up 318 rushing yards on 39 carries (8.2 average), with Andre Anderson running wild for 255 yards and two touchdowns.

The Miners were stopped short on a fake field-goal attempt in the first quarter, with Kyle Wright rushing for 6 yards on fourth-and-7. That ended a 13-play, 72-yard drive without putting any points on the board.

UTEP committed seven penalties for 100 yards, including silly fouls for roughing the passer and interfering with a fair catch.

Roster Report:

Landon Goodwell gave UTEP a 7-0 lead with a 1-yard touchdown reception early in the first quarter. The 6-foot-2, 260-pound junior is listed on the roster as a defensive lineman and has seen action this season at fullback and linebacker. It was his first career catch.

• Miners making their first career starts included WR Pierce Hunter, WR Donavon Kemp and CB Clarence Ward.


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