Tulane Surprises UTEP, 34-19
Nov. 10, 2007
Tulane scored the game's first 17 points and kept UTEP's ordinarily potent offense in check en route to registering a 34-19 win over the Miners on Saturday at the Louisiana Superdome.
The Green Wave (3-7, 2-4 C-USA) didn't need a huge night from national rushing leader Matt Forte to hand UTEP its fourth straight loss. Forte, who entered the game averaging 182.4 yards per contest, finished with 38 carries for 171 yards. It marked Tulane's first win this season when Forte had less than 300 yards rushing.
In the end, Green Wave quarterbacks Anthony Scelfo and Kevin Moore hurt the Miners as much as Forte did. Scelfo completed seven of 11 pass attempts for 167 yards, and Moore was 9-for-10 for 110 yards. The Green Wave, last in Conference USA in passing offense coming into the game, tallied 277 yards through the air.
UTEP (4-6, 2-4 C-USA), meanwhile, had a hard time scoring, a rarity in a season where the Miners have topped 40 points a school-record tying five times.
The Miners had four offensive drives that stalled inside the Tulane 30-yard line. Three ended in Jose Martinez field goals and another ended in a botched fake field goal attempt.
Jeremy Williams reeled in a pair of touchdown passes - one from Scelfo, and another from Moore - as the Green Wave built a 17-0 lead early in the second quarter.
The Miners cut the deficit to a touchdown (17-10) at the midway point, and marched to the Tulane 16-yard line to start the second half. But on fourth down, holder Kyle Wright was sacked for a 14-yard loss while attempting to pass.
The Green Wave responded to the change in momentum, moving 70 yards on 11 plays to take a 24-10 lead on a one-yard run by Forte. The key play was a 43-yard rush by Andre Anderson on fourth down off a fake punt at midfield.
Tulane increased its advantage to 31-13 in the fourth quarter, and Trevor Vittatoe's 12-yard touchdown pass to Jeff Moturi with 9:16 remaining was too little, too late. It did, however, extend Moturi's nation-leading streak of games with a touchdown catch to 10.
Vittatoe completed 28 of 43 pass attempts for 308 yards, his second straight 300-yard performance and his fourth in five games. UTEP's Marcus Thomas bounced back from a 51-yard rushing game at Rice last week to run 11 times for 124 yards.
UTEP will need to win its last two games of the season to be bowl-eligible.
The Miners will honor their 15-man senior class in the 2007 home finale against Southern Miss next Saturday (Nov. 17). Early kickoff is set for 5:30 p.m. MST. This year's seniors are offensive linemen Oniel Cousins and James Riley; defensive backs Quintin Demps, Matt Ellis and Tim McCullouch; linebackers Steve Douglas, Torrey Huckaby, Jeremy Jones and T.J. Monroe; wide receivers Josh Fematt and Joe West; running backs Johan Givens and Marcus Thomas; quarterback/wide receiver Lorne Sam; and tight end Jake Sears.
Freshman LB Isaiah Carter made his first career start ... UTEP did not score in the first quarter for just the second time this season. The Miners were also held scoreless in the opening period at SMU on Sept. 29. UTEP had scored in 19 straight quarters in Conference USA play before getting blanked by the Green Wave in the first period on Saturday ... Thomas' 59-yard touchdown in the first quarter marked the longest rushing play for the Miners this season. The previous long was a 38-yard run by Thomas against Tulsa ... Thomas went over 1,000 yards rushing for the year on the play. He is the seventh Miner to run for over 1,000 yards in a season ... Vittatoe's interception in the fourth quarter ended a string of 121 pass attempts without a pick ... it was UTEP's first-ever game in the city of New Orleans ... UTEP's Mike Price and Tulane's Bob Toledo have now faced one another six times as head coaches, including five times in the Pac-10 Conference. They have split the six matchups head-to-head ... it was UTEP's second-worst loss of the season behind a 45-31 setback at Texas Tech on Sept. 8.