Miners Drop Another Heartbreaker
Oct. 27, 2007
Terrance Ganeway scored on a one-yard touchdown run with 7:01 remaining in the game, giving Houston a 34-31 victory over UTEP in a key Conference USA game on Saturday night in the Sun Bowl.
"It's pretty disappointing," UTEP coach Mike Price said. "We felt like we had a chance to win the game. We felt like we were ready. We played pretty well, just not good enough to win."
The Cougars (5-3, 4-1 C-USA) piled up 520 yards of offense to gain the upper hand in C-USA's Western Division race. UTEP (4-4, 2-2 C-USA) slipped a game and half behind Houston with its second straight three-point loss at home.
UTEP was unable to pick up a first down on its last two offensive series. The Miners started their final drive with 2:06 left, but Trevor Vittatoe's sideline pass to Lorne Sam on fourth down and a yard to go fell incomplete.
"We didn't execute well on the last series like we have in the past," Price said. "It surprised me that we didn't get into field goal range and give Jose Martinez a chance to tie it up.
"The fourth down play was a good play. It was a play that has worked well over the last two or three games," Price added. "Guys were open. Trevor just threw to a guy on the other side who wasn't open. He still got the ball to Lorne, but it would have been a miraculous catch."
The Miners scored back-to-back touchdowns to start the second quarter in building their largest lead of the night, 17-7. Sam threw a nine-yard touchdown pass to Jamar Hunt, and Vittatoe connected with Joe West for a 34-yard score.
But the Cougars responded with 13 consecutive points of their own, capped by a pair of short by field goals by T.J. Lawrence, to go ahead 20-17 early in the third quarter.
UTEP regained the lead, 24-20, on a 19-yard pass from Vittatoe to Jeff Moturi with 3:02 remaining in the third period.
Case Keenum's five-yard TD pass to Perry McDaniel with 12:22 to go in the game put Houston back in front, 27-24. But UTEP answered with a seven-play, 80-yard drive, ending with Vittatoe's 35-yard TD pass to Moturi, to forge a 31-27 cushion with 8:57 left.
Marcus Thomas rushed 28 times for 178 yards for his school-record fifth straight 100-yard game to lead UTEP. Vittatoe had a tough night, completing only eight of 23 pass attempts for 134 yards, but he did toss three TD passes. Moturi was the Miners' leading receiver with four catches for 94 yards, extending his streak of games with a touchdown catch to seven.
Keenum hurt the Miners with his passing (13-for-20, 116 yards) and running (10 carries for 72 yards). Anthony Alridge ran for 204 yards on 27 attempts for the Cougars, who gained 306 yards on the ground.
Houston played a turnover-free game after beginning the night with 21 giveaways in seven contests.
The Miners may need a miracle to get back in the Western Division title chase, but a bowl bid is still in reach.
"This kind of breaks your heart," Price said. "But we still have a chance to have a good year. We've been in every game. We've challenged everyone we've played."
UTEP will be on the road for three of its last four games, beginning on Saturday (Nov. 3) at Rice. Kickoff is slated for 1 p.m. MST. The game will not be televised.