Memphis Holds Off UTEP in C-USA Road Opener
Oct. 10, 2009
MEMPHIS, TENN. – Curtis Steele rushed for 240 yards as Memphis spoiled UTEP’s bid for a fourth straight 2-0 start in Conference USA play with a 35-20 win over the Miners on Saturday in the Liberty Bowl.
The Tigers (2-4, 1-2 C-USA) broke out of a season-long offensive funk with their tailback healthy for the first time in 2009. Memphis had scored 16 points or less in four of its first five games, the exception a 41-14 rout of UT-Martin.
UTEP left at least three touchdowns on the field due to dropped balls and penalties.
The Miners (2-4, 1-1 C-USA) took a 3-0 lead on a 38-yard field goal by Logan Barrett three minutes into the game. But Memphis put together two touchdown drives before the first quarter was over and UTEP was playing catch-up the rest of the way.
Despite their struggles in the first half, the Miners trailed only 21-13 at the break. And they were still within a touchdown after Trevor Vittatoe hooked up with Kris Adams for a 21-yard score with 9:06 to play. But Memphis answered with a six-play, 53-yard drive over two minutes and 47 seconds, capped by a nine-yard scoring run by Steele.
Vittatoe finished with 319 passing yards after completing 21-of-40 tries. It is his ninth career 300+ yard passing game, which rates second all time behind Jordan Palmer's 16.
The Miners have a bye this week and will return to action on Wednesday, Oct. 21 against Tulsa in the Sun Bowl. Kickoff is set for 6 p.m. MST.