East Carolina Outlasts UTEP In Overtime, 45-42
Oct. 13, 2007
Rob Kass hit Juwon Crowell for a game-tying 34-yard touchdown as time expired in regulation, and East Carolina outlasted UTEP in overtime, 45-42, on Saturday night at the Sun Bowl.
"It was a most unusual outcome," UTEP coach Mike Price said. "I've had a few of those in my coaching career. I just don't feel like we deserved to lose the game. Not to take anything away from East Carolina. But we have a group of winners in our locker room."
UTEP (4-3, 2-1 C-USA) took a 39-32 lead on a 31-yard run by Marcus Thomas with 34 seconds remaining in the game. But East Carolina (4-3, 3-1 C-USA) drove 71 yards on five plays to knot the score.
"Yeah, it's luck I guess," Price said of the game-tying touchdown in regulation. "But they threw the ball in there and the guy caught the ball."
The Miners went ahead 42-39 on a 45-yard field goal by Jose Martinez in overtime before the Pirates marched 25 yards on four plays to capture the victory, capped by Kass' one-yard touchdown run.
Kass completed 18 of 32 passes for 219 yards with a touchdown and three interceptions for the Pirates, who spoiled UTEP's 76th Homecoming game. Trevor Vittatoe completed 38 of 55 passes for 409 yards with three TDs and an interception to lead the Miners.
UTEP finished with 589 yards of offense, and East Carolina racked up 507 yards.
The Miners led 19-18 at the half, but were outscored 14-3 to start the third quarter as the Pirates built a 32-22 cushion. But once again the Miners, who rallied from fourth quarter deficits to win their first two league games, had a comeback in them.
UTEP scored 17 straight points to forge the 39-32 lead, beginning with a 43-yard field goal by Martinez with 5:53 remaining in the third quarter. Then Vittatoe found Jeff Moturi for a 17-yard score with 14:55 remaining in the game to knot the contest at 32.
Thomas rushed for 103 yards on 22 carries and UTEP had a pair of 100-yard receivers, Moturi (12 catches-113 yards) and Lorne Sam (nine catches-127 yards).
"We did some really good things and we did some messed up things," Price said. "We made some mistakes in key situations."
Chris Johnson ran for 126 yards on 23 attempts for East Carolina, and Jamar Bryant reeled in seven receptions for 133 yards.
UTEP is off next week and will return to action on Saturday, Oct. 27, when the Miners take on Houston in the Sun Bowl at 7:05 p.m. MST. The Miners were tied for first place in Conference USA's Western Division with Houston and Tulsa through Saturday.
"It's going to be interesting to see how we respond," Price said. "I think we're going to respond great. It's probably good that we're going into a bye week. We're still first in our division, but I'd like to be 5-2 instead of 4-3. I'd like to meet this team [East Carolina] again in the Conference USA championship game. "We're going to work on getting healthy in the next week. We're still banged up. We'll work on our physical health, then we'll work on our mental health."
UTEP vs. East Carolina Post-Game NotesUTEP topped the 500-yard barrier for the third straight game, marking the first time they have done so in the modern era of football (post 1965) ... the Miners finished with 589 yards, the highest total in the Price era and the most since 2003 ... UTEP eclipsed the 40-point barrier for the school-record fourth consecutive tilt ... the Miners had two players with 100-plus receiving yards in a game for the first time since 2005 (11/26/05 at SMU) ... Trevor Vittatoe connected on 38 of 55 passes for 409 yards and three TDs ... the 38 completions establish a school record while the 55 attempts tie as the fourth most ... he becomes the sixth player in program annals to eclipse 400 yards ... it marks the second straight week he has thrown for more than 300 yards ... he is the only freshman in program history to top the 300-yard barrier ... the effort by Vittatoe extends his school-record streak for freshman signal callers to register at least 195 yards through the air in six straight games ... Vittatoe has thrown for 13 touchdowns on the year, the second-highest single-season total by a freshman QB in school history ... Jose Martinez drilled five field goals (41, 42, 34, 43 and 46) on the night to match the school record ... he is 9-of-10 on the campaign ... Jeff Moturi reeled in a touchdown reception for the sixth straight game ... that is the longest streak since 2004 when Johnnie Lee Higgins had a TD catch in eight consecutive contests ... he finished with 12 catches for 113 yards, marking his third consecutive 100-yard receiving game ... the 12 receptions tie for third most in school history ... Marcus Thomas notched his school-record-tying fourth consecutive 100-yard rushing game ... he finished with 105 yards on 22 carries ... Thomas has 12 rushing TDs on the campaign, which already equals the third-highest single-season total at UTEP ... UTEP falls to 16-6 under head coach Mike Price in the Sun Bowl, including 3-1 in 2007 ... the Miners dropped to 21-6 under Mike Price when scoring 30 or more points ... 41,365 fans were in attendance, marking the fourth straight homecoming crowd that topped 40,000 ... all of those games have been under Price ... the Miners are 33-42-1 all-time in homecoming games, including 2-2 in the Price era ... it marked the fourth overtime game in program history, with the Miners holding an all-time record of 2-2.