Sept. 3, 2012
Ten C-USA football teams will be in action this Saturday. Conference play begins at 11 a.m. CDT this Saturday when Tulsa hosts Tulane on FSN. The other two early games provide tests against nationally-ranked opponents, as UCF visits No. 18 Ohio State and East Carolina goes up against No. 9 South Carolina. FSN has a pair of back-to-back non-conference matchups, with Rice battling Kansas at 2:30 p.m. CDT and UTEP travelling to Mississippi at 6 p.m. CDT. Future C-USA member Louisiana Tech visits Houston on CBS Sports Network, beginning at 7 p.m. CDT.
PLAYERS OF THE WEEK
NATHAN JEFFERY, UTEP
Sophomore, RB, Caddo Mills, Texas
Jeffery ran for a career-best 177 yards on 21 carries for UTEP against fourth-ranked Oklahoma. Jeffery set a school record for rushing yards in a season opener, eclipsing the mark of 164 set in 1976. Five of Jeffery's carries were for more than 10 yards, including a 71-yard run that marked the fourth-best effort in the Mike Price era and the longest by an underclassman at UTEP since 2001. The Miners only touchdown of the game came at the hands of Jeffery, who returned a block punt 24 yards to reach pay dirt in the opening quarter.
JEREMY GROVE, EAST CAROLINA
Sophomore, LB, Frederick, Md.
Grove, a 2011 Freshman All-America performer, opened the 2012 campaign with nine tackles and a career-best two forced fumbles to help East Carolina record a season-opening 35-13 win over Appalachian State. He helped account for the Pirates first touchdown of the season by stripping ASU QB Jamal Jackson near midfield, resulting in a 45-yard fumble return by strong safety Chip Thompson. Grove recorded the other forced fumble on ASU's next series.
CAMERON NWOSU, RICE
Senior, LB, Houston, Texas
Nwosu broke the NCAA record by blocking three UCLA extra point attempts on Thursday night. Nwosu tied the NCAA and C-USA marks in the first five minutes of the season, blocking each of the Bruins' first two PAT attempts. He set the record by deflecting his third PAT attempt just before halftime. Nwosu was credited with nine tackles in the game and also picked up his first career interception.
EAST CAROLINA PIRATES
The Pirates posted a 35-13 win over Appalachian State on Saturday, their fourth straight opening day win at Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium. Junior QB Rio Johnson made his first career start and was 28-of-43 for 242 yards and two touchdowns. Junior WR Justin Hardy's four-yard touchdown reception in the fourth quarter was the seventh of his career in only 11 games. Hardy has now caught a touchdown pass in five of his last six games. Junior RB Michael Dobson generated 113 total yards, rushing 19 times for 78 yards and catching four passes for 35 yards. Junior Lance Ray had a 90-yard kickoff return for a touchdown in the third quarter. Ray's 90-yard return was the longest for ECU since Dwayne Harris' 99-yard return for a score against UAB on Nov. 21, 2009. Sophomore LB Jeremy Grove starred on defense, recording nine tackles and forcing two fumbles.
The Cougars fell to Texas State in the season opener on Saturday, 30-13. Sophomore LB Derrick Mathews tied for the team lead with 14 tackles and also led Houston with two sacks after entering the game with just one career sack. He had 4.5 tackles for loss resulting in a total of 16 yards lost by the Texas State offense. Mathews' two sacks resulted in a loss of 12 yards. Senior K Matt Hogan had his 14th career game with multiple field goals, connecting on kicks of 50 and 37 yards. Hogan's first kick, a 50-yarder to put Houston on the board in the first quarter, was his second career field goal of at least 50 yards and the first since hitting a 53-yard game winning field goal at Tulsa in 2009. Freshman WR Larry McDuffey recorded his first career catch on a 64-yard touchdown reception from sophomore QB David Piland in the second quarter.
MARSHALL THUNDERING HERD
The Thundering Herd fell at No. 11 West Virginia on Saturday, 69-34. Sophomore QB Rakeem Cato had a career day against the Mountaineers, completing 38 of his 54 passes for 413 yards and two touchdowns. The 38 completions was the second-highest in school history with the yardage also representing a career-high. Cato, who threw passes to 13 different players, also ran four times for 19 yards. Senior wide receiver Tommy Shuler's 12-yard touchdown catch in the fourth quarter was the first of his career. Sophomore TE Eric Fohnapfel's 11-yard touchdown reception late in the fourth quarter was the second of his career. His six catches and 60 yards receiving also represented career-highs. Senior S Dominick LeGrande had a team-high 13 tackles with one forced fumble and one tackle for loss.
The Tigers dropped a 20-17 decision to Tennessee-Martin on Saturday. Junior QB Jacob Karam made his first start and was 12-of-28 for 157 yards and a touchdown. Junior RB Jerell Rhodes posted a career-high 106 rushing yards on 24 carries, including a nine-yard scoring scamper. That marked the first, 100-yard rushing game by a Memphis player since the 2010 season. Three of junior Tom Hornsey's four punts on the night pinned UT Martin inside its own five-yard line. For the game he averaged 44.2 yards with two punts over 50 yards, including a 63-yarder. Memphis' 97-yard scoring drive on its second offensive possession of the game marked the longest scoring drive since the 2007 UAB game (Nov. 17, 2007).
The Owls opened their season with a 49-24 loss to UCLA on Thursday night. Senior LB Cameron Nwosu blocked each of the Bruins' first two extra points and added a third in late in the second quarter to break the NCAA single-game record of two, which had been done five times. Junior QB Taylor McHargue finished the night with a career-best 95 yards on the ground and threw for 172 more with a pair of scores. Senior Sam McGuffie was Rice's leading receiver, catching eight passes for 63 yards and one touchdown.
Junior K Chris Boswell had a 53-yard field goal in the second quarter. The three-pointer was Boswell's sixth career kick of 50 yards or better, breaking the school record he had shared with James Hamrick, and was only one yard shy of his career long kick.
The Mustangs opened the 2012 campaign on a Sunday for the third straight year, losing at Baylor, 59-24. Senior RB Zach Line carried 25 times for 135 yards, his 16th career 100-yard game. That moves him into a tie for second place in career 100-yard games at SMU, trailing only Eric Dickerson who had 28. Junior WR Jeremy Johnson and senior WR Darius Johnson each had nine receptions, with Jeremy Johnson posting new career-bests in receptions and yards (76), while scoring his second career TD. Junior QB Garrett Gilbert started his first game in a Mustang uniform and matched his career-highs for attempts (59) and completions (34), throwing for 286 yards and two scores. Der'rick Thompson had a 42-yard scoring reception and finished with five catches for 88 yards.
SOUTHERN MISS GOLDEN EAGLES
The Golden Eagles fell at No. 16 Nebraska on Saturday, 49-20. Senior Tracy Lampley, the preseason C-USA Special Teams Player of the Year, showed why with a 100-yard kickoff return for a touchdown. Lampley's return is the fourth in Southern Miss history to go at least 100 yards and he now has four special team touchdowns, returning both a pair of kickoffs and punts for touchdowns in his career. Senior DE Jamie Collins tallied a game-high tying 13 tackles (seven solos) which including three tackles for loss for 12 yards and one sack for eight. It was the fourth double-digit tackle performance for his career as he upped his career sack total to 12 and his TFL number to 28. Junior Chris Campbell made his first collegiate start at quarterback for the Golden Eagles and tossed his first career TD, a 24-yard strike to junior WR Dominique Sullivan. Campbell converted his first four passes of the contest. Freshman QB Anthony Alford came off the bench to rush for 84 yards.
TULANE GREEN WAVE
The Green Wave dropped its season-opener to Rutgers on Saturday, 24-12. Senior QB Ryan Griffin completed 34-of-48 passes for 254 yards - including an 11-yard touchdown pass to sophomore RB Rob Kelley. Junior WR Ryan Grant, who missed all but one game alst season, returned to action and caught six passes for 110 yards. Three Tulane defensive veterans tallied career-high tackle totals. Senior S Devon Walker led the way with nine tackles (7 solo, 2 assists) while junior LB Zach Davis had eight stops (5 solo, 3 assists) and sophomore DT Kenny Welcome added four (all solo). Senior CB Ryan Travis accounted for Tulane's lone forced turnover with a second-quarter interception which helped set up a 40-yard field goal by junior K Cairo Santos.
TULSA GOLDEN HURRICANE
The Golden Hurricane opened the season at Iowa State on Saturday, falling 38-23. In his first start in a Tulsa uniform, junior QB Cody Green was 23-of-49 for 198 yards and two touchdowns. Junior RB Ja'Terian Douglas scored his eighth career touchdown with a one-yard run in the first quarter. It was the first of his eight career TD runs that didn't go for more than 15 yards. His first seven career TDs went for 22, 37, 42, 47, 48, 80 and 80 yards. Junior RB Trey Watts' 77-yard run in the fourth quarter was his career-long. His previous long was 58 yards last year. Watts surpassed 100 rushing yards for the third time in his career, finishing with 125 yards on 10 attempts. Junior DB Demarco Nelson collected his first interception since he snared three against Houston in 2010. Sophomore DE Brentom Todd registered the first safety recorded by Tulsa since Dec. 1, 2007 against UCF.
The Blazers dropped a 39-29 decision to Troy on Saturday at Legion Field. Junior QB Jonathan Perry was 18-of-33 for 317 yards and two touchdowns. He also rushed 13 times for 46 yards and a score. UAB had a pair of receivers with more than 100 yards as junior Jackie Williams caught six balls for 157 yards while senior Patrick Hearn had seven catches for 108 yards. Williams' six catches increased his career total to 94 and moved him to No. 5 on the Blazers' all-time reception list. His 157 receiving yards established a career high. Senior LB Greg Irvin led the defense with 12 tackles, while senior LB Marvin Burdette had 10 stops, including 1.5 for loss.
The Knights won their season-opener for the seventh consecutive season with a 56-14 win at Akron on Thursday. In the first start of collegiate career, sophomore QB Blake Bortles was an efficient 13-of-16 for 168 yards and a career-high three touchdowns. Sophomore WR Rannell Hall caught four passes for 94 yards and two scores, including a 56-yard scoring reception. Senior RB Latavius Murray rushed for 68 yards on six carries on the opening drive and finished with 14 carries, 108 yards and a touchdown. It was the second-straight game dating back to 2011 that he had at least 100 yards on the ground and also was his fourth-career 100-yard rushing game. Senior FS Kemal Ishmael had nine tackles and a fumble recovery to lead the defense.
The Miners fell to No. 4 Oklahoma on Saturday, 24-7. Sophomore RB Nathan Jeffery registered all new career highs, carrying 21 times for 177 yards. The 177 yards are the most ever by a UTEP player in a season opener. Jeffery also returned a blocked punt 24 yards for the Miners only touchdown. Senior P Ian Campbell punted eight times for 367 yards, a 45.9-yard average. In 26 games for the Miners Campbell has averaged better than 45 yards per punt 15 times. The blocked field goal in the second quarter by junior DL Horace Miller was the first by a Miner player since Will Osolinsky achieved the feat against Southern Miss in 2007. The 12 tackles for senior LB Josh Fely were a career high and he led the team in stops for the second time. The first occasion was vs. Houston last season when he was credited with nine tackles.