Oct. 8, 2012
The action begins Thursday with a West Division battle between UTEP and Tulsa (7 p.m. CDT on FSN). The Golden Hurricane will host the contest owning a five-game winning streak.
Four league contests are scheduled for Saturday. A pair of games open the early action, as UAB visits Houston (11 a.m. CDT on FSN) and SMU goes to Tulane (Noon CDT on CSS/CSN Houston). The other two matchups are East Division games, with Memphis playing at East Carolina (3:30 p.m. CDT on CSS) and Southern Miss traveling to UCF (7 p.m. CDT on CBS Sports Network).
Rounding out Saturday's action is a non-conference contest between undefeated future C-USA member UTSA and Rice (2:30 p.m. CDT on Fox College Sports).
PLAYERS OF THE WEEK
CHARLES SIMS, HOUSTON
Junior, RB, Houston, Texas
Sims rushed for a career-high 210 yards as he finished with 265 all-purpose yards and two total touchdowns in Houston's 44-21 win over North Texas. The junior eclipsed the 200-yard mark for the second time in his career (207 vs. Tulane in 2011) as he finished with a 10.0 yards per carry average with 21 rushing attempts. Sims also had five receptions for 55 yards, good for his 13th career game with at least five receptions.
RANDALL JOYNER, SMU
Junior, LB, Carrollton, Texas
Making the start for an injured teammate, Joyner notched a team and career-high 14 tackles and recorded two interceptions as SMU shutout UTEP in El Paso, 17-0. This was the Mustangs' first win at UTEP since 2002, marked just the second time in 31 seasons that a Mike Price-coached team was shut out and the first time UTEP was blanked at home since 2003.
QUINCY McDUFFIE, UCF
Senior, KR, Orlando, Fla.
After East Carolina scored on a 76-yard pass to make it 14-0 with 6:09 left in the first quarter, UCF had lost any momentum to open the game. But, on the ensuing kickoff, McDuffie used perfect blocking to return the kick 99 yards to the house and cut ECU's lead in half. The Knights would score 20 unanswered points to help complete the 40-20 comeback victory. For McDuffie, it was his fourth-career kickoff return for a touchdown, which tied the school record. He also added two receptions for 67 yards, including a 64-yard touchdown reception in the third quarter to push UCF's lead to 30-20. For the game, McDuffie had 195 all-purpose yards.
EAST CAROLINA PIRATES
East Carolina fell to UCF, 40-20, Thursday night. Wide receiver Justin Hardy went over 100 yards receiving for the second time this season and in his career with 119 receiving yards. Hardy also topped 100 yards through the air with 111 against South Carolina (9/8/12). Shane Carden's 76-yard pass touchdown to Justin Hardy in the first quarter represent the longest pass of the quarterback's career. The reception was also the longest of Hardy's career beating his previous long of 58 that also went for a touchdown against Memphis (10/15/11). The touchdown reception was his fifth TD catch of the season. Hardy has now caught 11 touchdowns in his 16 career games including a touchdown catch in nine of his last 11 games (five of six this season).
The Cougars posted a 44-21 win over North Texas on Saturday. Junior RB Charles Sims rushed for a career-high 210 yards and finished with 265 all-purpose yards and two total touchdowns. Freshman RB Kenneth Farrow also notched a career best with 85 yards on only eight touches (10.6 yards per carry). Sophomore QB David Piland completed 31-of-41 for 321 yards and two touchdown passes. He has thrown for more than 300 yards in three of five games this season. Junior WR Dewayne Peace led all receivers with nine receptions for 83 yards, including his second scoring reception of the season. Senior LB Phillip Steward led Houston with his 11th career multi-tackle game, registering 12 stops. Steward, C-USA's leading tackler with 11.8 per game, now has at least 10 tackles in four of five games this season.
MARSHALL THUNDERING HERD
The Thundering Herd saw its seven-game Conference USA home winning streak come to an end in a 45-38 loss to Tulsa. Sophomore QB Rakeem Cato completed 31-of-44 for 391 yards and three touchdowns. Senior receivers Aaron Dobson and Antavious Wilson each had big days, with Dobson catching 10 passes for 128 yards and Wilson grabbing seven passes for 123 yards and two TDs. it marked the first time since Sept. 5, 2009 that two Herd players went over 100 yards receiving, when Chuck Walker (119) and Cody Slate (114) did it against Southern Illinois. Junior TE Gator Hoskins' 72-yard TD catch in the third quarter was Marshall's longest play of the season. Marshall's two rushing touchdowns in the game gave it 12 for the season. The Herd had only rushing nine TDs in 13 games in 2012. Senior S Dominick LeGrande's 16 tackles was a career-high and ties the most by a Marshall defender this season.
The Tigers opened conference play with a win for the first time since 2000, defeating Rice, 14-10. Memphis held the Owls to 221 total yards and just a field goal offensively. Rice put up 104 rushing yards and 117 passing yards, the fewest yards allowed by Memphis since Nov. 22, 2008 against UCF. The game-winning points came on an 11-yard TD pass from sophomore QB Eric Mathews to freshman TE Alan Cross. Mathews' touchdown pass was his first completion and first TD pass in his Memphis career. Sophomore WR Keiwone Malone scored his second receiving touchdown and third career TD with a five yard pass from junior QB Jacob Karam with 7:50 left in the third quarter. Freshman RB Carl Harris led the team with a career best 68 yards rushing on 15 attempts. Junior RB Brandon Hayes also had a career best with 51 yards on six carries with a long run of 29 yards, the longest run by a Tiger this season.
The Owls fell at Memphis on Saturday, 14-10. Junior QB Taylor McHargue, who missed the Houston game with an injury, returned to the starting lineup and hit on 16 of 30 passes for 117 yards. Junior RB Turner Petersen, who also missed the Houston game, led the Owls in rushing. Sophomore LB James Radcliffe, making his first career start, was credited with a career-high 12 tackles, including three for losses. Junior DE Cody Bauer registered nine tackles, including three for losses and also recovered a fumble. The 24 combined points in the game were the fewest in C-USA game for the Owls in their eight seasons in the league and the fewest in any game since they defeated Houston 10-7 in the opening game of the 2004 season.
The Mustangs posted their second shutout of the season Saturday, blanking UTEP, 17-0, in El Paso. It was the first time UTEP was shutout at home since 2003 and SMU's defense has allowed just three points over the past six quarters. Senior LB Ja'Gared Davis recorded eight tackles and had a 30-yard INT return for a TD, the second straight year that he has scored against the Miners. Senior DE Margus Hunt blocked yet another field goal try, the 10th of his career, extending his NCAA career record (block was 28-yard attempt at 8:25 3rd Qtr). The blocked FGA was the 17th total block of his career (10 FGs, 7 PATs), which is second in NCAA history (19 by James Ferebee, New Mexico St, 1978-81). Senior WR Darius Johnson had five receptions for 82 yards and a touchdown, his 16th career score (sixth in SMU history).
SOUTHERN MISS GOLDEN EAGLES
Southern Miss lost to No. 25 Boise State on Saturday, 40-14. Senior RB Desmond Johnson registered the team's first 100-yard rushing performance of the season with a career-best 116 yards on the ground. His day included a season-long, 58-yard rush as well as a 2-yard touchdown run - his first rushing score of the season. A 12-yard completion to senior WR Tracy Lampley in the first quarter put him over 1,000 receiving yards for his career with 1,022. Lampley is just the fourth Golden Eagle all-time to record 1,000 yards in two separate offensive categories, as he also has 1,392 kick return yards. Lampley needs 34 rushing yards and 153 punt return yards to go over the 1,000-yard plateau in four categories. Junior WR Dominique Sullivan tallied a career-high seven catches for 63 yards Senior DL Jamie Collins led the Golden Eagles with 10 tackles (eight solo stops) and he added a sack for nine yards.
TULANE GREEN WAVE
The Green Wave lost to in-state rival Louisiana-Lafayette on Saturday, 41-13. Senior D.J. Ponder threw for a career-high 173 yards with the bulk of that came on a 71-yard touchdown strike to sophomore WR Justyn Shackleford in the second quarter.
Shackleford was Tulane's leading receiver on the day with three grabs for 96 yards while sophomore RB Rob Kelley finished with three catches for 25 yards. Kelley led the ground game with a season-best 55 yards on 10 carries. Junior K Cairo Santos connected on a pair of field goals, hitting from 47 and 40 yards. For the season, Santos is a perfect 6-of-6, including a 5-of-5 showing from 40-plus yards.
TULSA GOLDEN HURRICANE
The Golden Hurricane won at Marshall on Saturday, 45-38, for their fifth consecutive victory this season and seventh straight road win in C-USA play, dating back to Nov. 13, 2010. Senior RB Alex Singleton ran for three touchdowns for the seond consecutive week and the fifth time in his career. His first TD came on a career-long 48 yard rush. With 30 career rushing TDs, he needs just two more to tie the TU career record of 32. Junior RB Trey Watts had a 95-yard kickoff return for a touchdown in the third quarter, his second career kickoff return for a touchdown. Watts also had his fourth career 100-yard rushing game and the second this year with 18 carries for 111 yards. Sophomore DB Dwight Dobbins returned a fumble for an 11-yard touchdown for the second defensive score of his career. The last time Tulsa had a fumble return for a touchdown was on October 15, 2005. Junior LB Shawn Jackson registered 16 tackles, including 2.5 for loss and a sack.
The Blazers rolled to a 52-3 win over Southeastern Louisiana on Saturday. UAB piled up 512 yards of total offense, while holding the Lions to 125 total yards. Freshman QB Austin Brown was 16-of-22 for 266 yards and two touchdowns. In his first two career starts, Brown has hit 69.2 percent of his passes for 603 yards and four touchdowns. Junior RB Greg Franklin scored a pair of touchdowns, one on a 53-yard reception and another on a 16-yard run. Franklin had 86 yards receiving and 34 rushing. Sophomore DE Diaheem Watkins posted a team-best nine tackles, including 2.5 tackles for loss and 1.5 sacks. Sophomore K Ty Long connected on a 53-yard field goal, giving him a pair of 50+ field goals this season. Long is 7-of-8 on field goals this year and 23-of-27 for his career. Long owns the two-longest field goals in UAB history (54 and 53 yards).
UCF won its C-USA opener against East Carolina, 40-20, Thursday night at Bright House Networks Stadium. Senior Quincy McDuffie ran back a 99-yarder to the house in the first quarter to tie Todd Cleveland for UCF's all-time record with four kickoff returns for a touchdown in his career. Sophomore quarterback Blake Bortles was 15-for-21 with a personal-best 269 yards. He also had a career-long 33-yard rush in the second quarter (his previous long was 15), and finished with a career-high 62 rushing yards as well as his second-career rushing touchdown. He led all players in rushing Thursday. Bortles found McDuffie on a 64-yard touchdown pass in the third quarter. It was Bortles' longest pass completion of his career, while it was McDuffie's longest reception ever in a Black and Gold uniform.
The Miners suffered their first home shutout in nine years on Saturday, losing 17-0 to SMU. The last time UTEP was blanked at the Sun Bowl in a conference game was 1996. Junior RB Nathan Jeffery carried the ball 20 times for 67 yards, dropping his season average to 74.7 yards per game. Sophomore WR Jordan Leslie caught seven passes for 80 yards to lead the receivers. Tight ends caught three passes on UTEP's initial offensive drive of the second half after totaling one reception in the previous 11 quarters of play dating back to the New Mexico State game on Sept. 15. The sack by junior DL Horace Miller in the second quarter was his fifth of the season, tying his total for the entire 2011 campaign.