Nov. 17, 2012
IRVING, Texas - Tulsa claimed a 23-21 win against UCF and clinched the West Division title and a spot in the Conference USA Championship game. East Carolina secured its first winning season under Ruffin McNeill with a 28-23 win at Tulane. Other winners from Saturday include Marshall, Memphis and Rice.
Tulsa 23, UCF 21
Tulsa, Oklahoma - Tulsa clinched the Conference USA West Division Championship with a 23-21 comeback victory against the East Division-leading UCF Knights in front of 19,725 fans at H.A. Chapman Stadium on Saturday afternoon. The West Division title is the fourth outright divisional crown for the Hurricane in eight years as a league member.
Tulsa (9-2, 7-0 C-USA) will play in the title game on December 1 against either UCF (8-3, 6-1 C-USA) or East Carolina.
Trailing 14-10 at halftime, the Hurricane offense scored 13 points in the third quarter to take a 23-14 lead after three quarters and the Tulsa defense had a dominant performance in limiting UCF to 66 yards rushing, 123 yards below its season average, 235 total yards and two touchdowns. UCF's third TD came on a 76-yard interception return by A. J. Bouye.
Cody Green completed 21-of-34 passes for 252 yards and a career-high three touchdowns for the Hurricane, all three going to Keyarris Garrett, who tallied seven receptions for 130 yards. The Tulsa ground attack was led by Trey Watts' 122 yards while the Hurricane gained 209 yards on the ground.
East Carolina 28, Tulane 23
NEW ORLEANS, La. - East Carolina secured a winning season with a 28-23 victory over Tulane in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome, improving to 7-4 overall and 6-1 in Conference USA. With their regular-season finale on Friday at home against Marshall and a bowl game left in the season, the Pirates have given head coach Ruffin McNeill his first winning season since returning to his alma mater.
McNeill, a four-year letterman for the Pirates as a player from 1976-79, posted records of 6-7 and 5-7 in his first two seasons as ECU head coach after coming back to North Carolina from Texas Tech. Now, his squad has a shot at nine victories - thanks to a determined defense and offensive drives in clutch situations against Tulane (2-9, 2-5).
Shane Carden rushed for one touchdown, passed for two more and the Pirates took control with a solid defensive effort in the second half - sacking Tulane quarterback Ryan Griffin four times. The Pirates limited the Green Wave to nine net yards rushing, forcing Griffin to pass 57 times.
Marshall 44, Houston 41
HUNTINGTON, W.Va. - Marshall kicker Justin Haig connected on a 45-yard field goal with seven seconds remaining in regulation to give the Thundering Herd a 44-41 victory over Houston Saturday afternoon at Joan C. Edwards Stadium.
Marshall improved to 5-6 (4-3 Conference USA) while Houston fell to 4-7 (3-4 C-USA).
Marshall set a school record for plays from scrimmage (106), surpassing the previous mark of 101 which was set at West Virginia earlier this season. The Herd also tied the school record for first downs, moving the chains 37 times.
An efficient Herd offense was 13-of-22 (59.1 percent) on third down while its defense held Houston to 5-of-17 (29.4 percent). Marshall tallied 377 yards in the air and 288 yards on the ground to claim a season high 665 yards of total offense. It was the highest total yards of offense by a Herd team since Oct. 12, 2002 against Buffalo, dating back 128 games.
Quarterback Rakeem Cato went 32-of-50 for 377 yards and three touchdowns in the passing game, connecting with nine wide receivers in the victory.
Tommy Shuler paced the wide receiving corps with nine catches for 105 yards and a touchdown. The sophomore moved into a third place tie on Marshall's list of single-season reception leaders (96).
Antavious Wilson caught seven passes for 72 yards and had a 19-yard touchdown reception on Marshall's opening drive.
Memphis 46, UAB 9
BIRMINGHAM, Ala. -- From the opening kickoff, each of the three phases of the University of Memphis' football game was clicking on all cylinders Saturday at Legion Field.
The Tigers defense held UAB to three-and-outs on the Blazers' opening two offensive series. The Tigers offense scored touchdowns on its first four offensive drives. Highlighting the Tigers special teams was a punt return unit which amassed over 100 yards in returns for just the fourth time in school history and also set up an early score by blocking a punt.
The team effort resulted in a 46-9 road win Saturday at UAB. With the victory, Memphis has won consecutive games for the first time since 2008. The Tigers have equaled the number of wins in its last two combined seasons and the team is insured of having its best record since '08.
Memphis, now 3-8 and 3-4 in Conference USA play, closes out its season next week with Senior Day, playing host to longtime rival Southern Miss.
Rice 36, SMU 14
HOUSTON -- Chris Boswell tied an NCAA record with his long-distance field goals, while his Rice Owl teammates won the close-in battles in the trenches on both sides of the ball as the Owls dropped SMU 36-14 at Rice Stadium on Saturday, setting up a season-ending road game with UTEP with a bowl berth on the line.
The Owls (5-6, 3-4) won their third straight game and fourth in the last five to put them in contention for a bowl berth next week when they travel to El Paso to take on the Miners.
Boswell became the sixth player in NCAA history to kick three field goals of better than 50 yards and broke the school record with five three-pointers on the day. His 56-yarder in the first quarter made him the first kicker this season in the NCAA to have a pair of field goals from 55 yards or longer. He was also a force on kickoffs, averaging 64.1 yards on nine kicks, five of which were touchbacks, while his teammates three times pinned Mustang kick returners inside the 16 when they attempted to return the kicks.
The Owls put together their best effort of the year despite the loss of several key regulars early in the game to injuries. Cornerback Phillip Gaines, tight end Luke Willson, safety Julius White and deep snapper Trevor Gillette all left the game with injuries but the Owls were able to maintain their effort thanks to the play of cornerback J.T. Blasingame, safety Garrett Fuhrman, and deep snapper Tanyan Farley, the latter player who was making his college debut at that position.
UTEP 34, Southern Miss 33
HATTIESBURG, Miss. (AP) - Autrey Golden returned a fourth-quarter kickoff 98 yards for a touchdown and the UTEP defense held when it counted most to propel the Miners past Southern Mississippi 34-33 Saturday night.
After Golden's big return gave UTEP (3-8, 2-5 Conference USA) the 34-27 lead, the Golden Eagles (0-11, 0-7) responded with an 86-yard drive that cut the lead to one with 2:48 left. Southern Miss coach Ellis Johnson opted for a two-point conversion attempt, but Arsenio Favor's pass was intercepted byDemarcus Kizzie in the end zone.
UTEP quarterback Blaire Sullivan finished with 155 yards on 9-of-15 passing and rushed for 98 yards and a score. Nathan Jeffery added 76 yards on the ground, including touchdown runs of one and three yards in the second quarter.
Favor, the fourth Golden Eagles' quarterback to start in 2012, completed 16 of 22 attempts for a season-high 374 yards and two touchdowns.