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El Paso, TX — UTEP (2-8, 1-5 C-USA West) will battle bowl eligible Tulane (6-4, 4-2 C-USA West) on Saturday at 1:30 p.m. MT (2:30 p.m. CT) in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. The Miners snapped a seven-game losing streak by defeating FIU, 33-10, on Nov. 16 in the Sun Bowl on Senior Night. UTEP won its first home game of the season, along with notching its first conference win. The Miners are making their fifth trip to the Big Easy as they will play the first of two road games to end the 2013 season. The season will close out at Middle Tennessee on Thanksgiving weekend (Saturday, Nov. 30).
This will mark the ninth meeting between the two schools. UTEP holds a 5-3 lead. The Miners won the first game, 45-21, on Oct. 14, 2005 in New Orleans. The Miners have won the last two contests -- a 24-20 win on Oct. 20, 2012 in the Sun Bowl and a 44-7 drubbing on Oct. 15, 2011 in the Superdome. The Miners also recorded wins on Oct. 14, 2006 (34-20) and Oct. 11, 2008 (24-21). Tulane last beat UTEP in the Superdome on Nov. 7, 2009, a 45-38 shootout. The Green Wave also notched wins on Oct. 23, 2010 (34-24) and Nov. 10, 2007 (34-19).
The Last Meeting
Michael Edwards caught a pair of second-quarter touchdown passes from Nick Lamaison and UTEP snapped a four-game losing streak by defeating Tulane, 24-20, on Oct. 20, 2012 in the Sun Bowl.
Edwards had seven receptions for 82 yards, including scoring passes of 28 and 9 yards that helped give the Miners a 24-17 lead at halftime. Josh Bell also scored for UTEP on a 14-yard run.
Lamaison was 11 of 16 for 157 yards before leaving in the second quarter with a hamstring injury.
Ryan Griffin completed 28 of 44 passes for 363 yards and two touchdowns for Tulane. Justyn Shackleford had six catches for 130 yards, including a 31-yard touchdown. Ryan Grant added six receptions for 115 yards, including a 15-yard TD.
The Green Wave had 440 yards of offense, just 5 less than UTEP, but managed only a field goal on five second half possessions.
Tulane offensive coordinator Eric Price is the son of former UTEP head coach Mike Price. The younger Price was also a member of the Miner staff from 2004-07, serving as offensive coordinator.
UTEP WR Jordan Leslie and Tulane TE Matt Marfisi were teammates at Tomball (Texas) High School.
The Green Wave is coming off a bye week after dropping its last two games. Tulane fell to Florida Atlantic, 34-17, in Boca Raton on Nov. 2, and came up short to UTSA, 10-7, on Nov. 9 in San Antonio.
UTSA kicker Sean Ianno connected on a game-winning, 34-yard field goal with 14 seconds remaining to wash out the Green Wave. Tulane committed a season-high 14 penalties for 111 yards. Tulane running back Orleans Darkwa rushed for a game-high 103 yards and a score in the loss. The Green Wave had 348 yards of total offense, including 149 yards rushing and 24 first downs. UTSA netted 309 yards of total offense, including 126 on the ground.
UTEP pounded out a season-high 327 yards rushing in ending a seven-game losing streak and sending its 14 seniors out with a victory, 33-10 over FIU on Nov. 16 in the Sun Bowl.
Nathan Jeffery (130 yards) and Blaire Sullivan (104) both rushed for over 100 yards as the Miners posted their first home win under coach Sean Kugler.
The Miners came out determined to run the ball down the Panthers’ throats. UTEP’s first two scoring drives featured 16 rushing plays and one pass attempt. The Miners instated a 10-0 lead on a four-yard touchdown run by Autrey Golden and a 34-yard field goal by Jay Mattox.
The Panthers got on the board with 45 seconds left in the first period when Lamarq Caldwell threw a 16-yard touchdown pass to T.J. Lowder. Golden immediately put the Miners in scoring position with a 60-yard kickoff return. But Mattox missed a 38-yard field goal and the score remained 10-7.
Neither team was able to get anything going offensively until Sullivan broke free for a 35-yard run late in the first quarter, setting up a one-yard touchdown run by Jeffery on fourth down with 38 seconds remaining in the half. The Miners took the 17-7 lead into the locker room.
UTEP added a safety in the third quarter when Silas Spearman was tackled in the end zone. The Miners pushed the lead to 26-7 late in the third period when Mack Leftwich connected with Jordan Leslie for a 64-yard score. Jeffery picked up his second rushing touchdown of the night on a 54-yard scamper with 7:05 to play.
The Miners posted 407 yards of offense and enjoyed their best game of the season on defense, yielding 200 yards. FIU rushed for 95 yards and completed just 9-of-24 pass attempts.
Two in a Row?
After thumping FIU 33-10 in the Sun Bowl last Saturday, the Miners can dream about putting together their first conference winning streak in three years. The last time UTEP strung together consecutive league victories was versus Memphis and Rice in 2010.
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