Tigers Drop Heartbreaker to Miners, 16-13
Go Tigers! Jerrell Rhodes posted career bests of 90 yards and 23 carries in Saturday's setback at UTEP.
Go Tigers!
Jerrell Rhodes posted career bests of 90 yards and 23 carries in Saturday's setback at UTEP.
Go Tigers!

Sept. 25, 2010

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By: Preston McClellan, Student Assistant

EL PASO, Texas -- A Dakota Warren 18-yard field goal as time expired lifted UTEP past Memphis 16-13 in Saturday's Conference USA showdown at the Sun Bowl. The win was UTEP's first in the short four-game series with the Tigers. Memphis won the previous three encounters in 2005, 2006 and 2009.

Despite not leading until time expired, the Miners managed to pull out the victory behind Warren's three field goals, including two from 50 yards or longer. Joe Barnyard scored UTEP's lone touchdown on a six-yard touchdown run, tying the game at 10-all with 3:16 left in third quarter.

After Barnyard's run tied the game at 10-all, Memphis used a 15-play, 62-yard drive that spanned over two quarters and ate up 7:41 off the clock. The Tigers started the possession on their own 20 yard line and moved to the UTEP 18, where Paulo Henriques capped the drive with a 35-yard field goal. Henriques second field goal of the contest gave Memphis a 13-10 advantage with 8:35 remaining.

UTEP, though, responded on the ensuing possession after Marlon McClure's 40-yard kickoff return set up the Miners at their own 40. Seven plays later, Warren tied the game at 13-all with his second 50-yard field goal of the contest with just over 5:30 on the clock. Warren's 50-yarder finished a 27-yard, 2:52 drive.

After UTEP tied the game, Memphis received the ball on its own 18 yard line with 5:29 remaining. The Tiger offense moved the ball into Miner territory, but the visitors' drive stalled at the UTEP 46, and Memphis was forced to punt. Tom Hornsey's fifth punt of the game rolled down inside the UTEP 10 and pinned the Miners at their own 4.

Taking over on its own 4 yard line with 3:13 left, UTEP moved the ball quickly out to its own 42 in seven plays. On the drive's eighth play, Miner quarterback Trevor Vittatoe hit Kris Adams for a 30-yard gain to the Tiger 28 with over a minute left on the clock, putting UTEP in excellent field position for a game-winning score. The Miners moved the ball inside the Memphis 5 yard line via the run on the next four plays. After taking a final timeout with only seconds left, Warren capped the 12-play, 95-yard drive with his third field goal, this time an 18 yarder for the victory.

Barnyard totaled 45 yards on nine carries as part of a running back corps that posted 117 yards on the ground. Of Barnyard's 45 yards, 27 came on the final drive, including an 18-yard run that moved the Miners down to the Tiger 2 yard line. Donald Buckram led the UTEP rushing game with 59 yards on 13 carries.

Vittatoe led the Miners through the air, netting 171 yards on 16-of-33 passing. He threw one interception and was sacked three times.

Jerrell Rhodes led the Memphis offense, amassing 90 yards on 23 carries. The 90 yards and 23 rushes both were career bests for Rhodes. Gregory Ray, who rushed for 121 yards last week in the victory over Middle Tennesse, finished with 46 yards on nine carries.

Ryan Williams, making his second career start at quarterback for the Tigers, finished with 144 yards on 20-of-30 passing with two interceptions and one touchdown. Williams' scoring toss came late in the second quarter, a 15-yard connection with Jermaine McKenzie.

Jamon Hughes led a Tiger defense that kept the Miners in check for the majority of the game. He totaled 11 tackles to lead the effort. Marcus Ball added eight total tackles for Memphis. Mohammed Seisay recorded his second interception in as many weeks to lead the Tiger secondary. Jamie Irving paced the UTEP defense with 10 total hits and 2.5 TFL.

The Tigers drew first blood on the scoreboard and led for the majority of the game. After forcing UTEP to punt on its first series, Memphis began its opening possession on its own 22 yard line. Williams, who was 4-of-4 passing for 32 yards on the drive, directed the Tigers to the UTEP 20. From there, Henriques kicked a 37-yard field goal to give the Tigers the early 3-0 advantage. The Tigers' drive was 13 plays and 58 yards and spanned 6:29.

Memphis forced UTEP to punt again on its next series, and the Tigers took over deep in their own territory at the 3 yard line. Memphis moved out to its 37, but UTEP defensive back Travaun Nixon picked off a Williams' pass to set up the Miners at the Tiger 47 at the end of the first quarter.

Despite the Miners starting on its side of the field, the Memphis defense stiffened and held UTEP to only seven yards on three plays. UTEP faced either a punt or long field goal, and the Miners went with the latter. Warren set up for a 57-yard field goal, and his kick barely went over the crossbar to tie the contest at 3-all. Warren's 57-yard field goal came on the third play of the second quarter at the 14:17 mark.

After an exchange of punts, Memphis turned the field on UTEP and forced the Miners to start their second possession of the second quarter at their own 9 yard line. On the drive's second play, Seisay intercepted Vittatoe's pass at the 20 yard line and set up the Memphis offensive in excellent field position.

Three plays later, the Tigers took advantage of the Miners' miscue. On 3rd-and-5 from the UTEP 15, Williams threaded the needle to Jermaine McKenzie in the back of the end zone to put Memphis up 10-3. The score came with only 3:39 left before halftime.

The squads mounted no additional scoring opportunities the remainder of the half, and Memphis took a 10-3 lead into the break.

The Tigers return home to take on the Tulsa Golden Hurricane Oct. 2 at Liberty Bowl Memorial Stadium. Game time is slated for 6 p.m. (CT). The contest is the Conference USA home opener for Memphis.



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