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Conference USA News and Notes

8:57 AM, Oct 1, 2012   |    comments
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Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) -

EAST CAROLINA: The Pirates (3-2) improved to 2-0 in conference action with a 28-18 victory over the Texas-El Paso Miners. Vintavious Cooper rushed for a career-high 154 yards with a score and added four catches for 52 yards to lead the way for ECU. The game was delayed due to harsh weather conditions and Shane Carden felt the effects of the rough conditions. Carden completed 28- of-40 passes for 258 yards and a touchdown, but also threw three interceptions in the contest. Justin Hardy led all receivers with 11 catches for 95 yards and a touchdown. The Pirates' total of 475 yards of offense set a new season- high. ECU looks to remain perfect in league action this Thursday when it heads to Orlando to play the UCF Knights.

HOUSTON: Tony Levine finally picked up the first regular season win of his career as Houston (1-3) topped Rice, 35-14, in the Bayou Bucket Bowl at Reliant Stadium. The victory snapped a three-game losing slide and moved the Cougars to 1-0 in league action this season. Charles Sims rushed for 158 yards and a career-best three touchdowns, while David Piland threw for 361 yards and two scores. Larry McDuffey was Piland's favorite target, reeling in eight passes for 100 yards and a touchdown. Daniel Spencer also had a strong showing with 99 yards and a score on five catches. Houston returns home this weekend to face its instate rival, North Texas, in its final non-conference game of the season.

MARSHALL: First half turnovers plagued the Thundering Herd (2-3) in their 51-41 loss to Purdue on Saturday. The Boilermakers returned two interceptions for touchdowns in the second quarter as they built an insurmountable, 42-14 halftime lead. Rakeem Cato led Marshall as it attempted to rally back from its huge deficit. Cato finished with a career-high 439 yards, five touchdowns, and three interceptions on 45-of-68 passing. Tommy Shuler grabbed a school-record 19 receptions for 200 yards and Gator Hoskins caught three passes in the end zone. The Thundering Herd's special teams unit brought MU's sideline to life as Jermain Kelson blocked a punt which Derek Mitchell scooped up and returned 35 yards for a score. The Herd will take on Tulsa this weekend.

MEMPHIS: The Tigers (0-4) had a bye after their 38-14 setback to the Duke Blue Devils. Coach Justin Fuente aims for his first career victory when Memphis takes on Rice in its C-USA opener on Saturday.

RICE: Playing without Taylor McHargue, the Owls (1-4) lacked a spark on the offensive end and could not keep up as it dropped a 35-14 decision to Houston in this season's edition of the Bayou Bucket Bowl. Driphus Jackson passed for 272 yards in his starting debut. Jackson found Sam McGuffie for an 88-yard scoring strike, which set a new record for the longest pass play in school history. McGuffie finished with a career-high 119 yards on six receptions. The loss dropped Rice to 0-2 in conference play and gave it a second consecutive loss to its crosstown rival. It will try for its first C-USA win on Saturday when it heads to the Liberty Bowl for a bout with Memphis.

SMU: In a game that was characterized by a heavy rainfall, the Mustangs (1-3) lost, 24-16, while trying to upset the 15th-ranked TCU Horned Frogs. SMU gained a season-low 220 yards of total offense, but held TCU to 156 yards. Garrett Gilbert had a rough outing, completing just 15-of-40 passes for 190 yards and one touchdown with five interceptions. Zach Line scored his third rushing touchdown of the season, but he managed only 44 yards on 15 carries. Margus Hunt recorded a career-high six tackles in the loss. SMU is back in action on Saturday when it travels to El-Paso to face the Miners in its C-USA opener.

SOUTHERN MISS: The Golden Eagles (0-4) saw their fourth quarter lead slip away as they fell, 21-17, to the 19th-ranked Louisville Cardinals. Senorise Perry scored on a 14-yard touchdown run with 5:35 remaining to propel Louisville to the win. Ricky Lloyd became the third different player to start at quarterback for USM this season in the contest. Lloyd completed only 2-of-8 attempts for 25 yards in his starting debut. Desmond Johnson gained a team-best 94 yards on 14 carries. The Golden Eagles rushed for a season-best 224 yards, while the aerial attack was limited. Southern Miss has another difficult opponent coming to Hattiesburg on Saturday as it will try to take down Boise State for its first win of the season.

TEXAS-EL PASO: The Miners (1-4) lost for the second time in a row as they were defeated, 28-18, by East Carolina in their C-USA opener. Nathan Jeffery led all rushers in the contest with 134 yards and Autrey Golden made in impact with a 96-yard kickoff return for a touchdown. Nick Lamaison struggled under center, completing just nine of his 27 pass attempts for 143 yards, tossing a touchdown and three interceptions. Michael Edwards made six catches for 130 yards. UTEP allowed ECU to rush for 217 yards, making it the fourth time in five games the Miners' opponent has amassed 200 yards or more on the ground. UTEP will attempt to win its first C-USA contest on Saturday when it hosts the SMU Mustangs for a Lone Star State showdown.

TULANE: The Green Wave (0-4) had their FBS leading losing streak extended to 14 games as they were dominated in a 63-10 loss to the ULM Warhawks at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. Tulane started a third different player at quarterback in as many weeks as coach Curtis Johnson gave D.J. Ponder the nod. In his first career start, Ponder completed 21-of-44 passes for 160 yards and threw three interceptions. Justyn Shackleford caught seven passes for 76 yards. Cairo Santos tied a school record with a 54-yard field goal and linebacker Zach Davis tallied a career-high 12 tackles to go with a sack and an interception. Tulane's defense was ineffective, as it allowed ULM to score touchdowns on eight of its first 11 possessions. The Green Wave face another Sun Belt foe this week when they hit the road to take on Louisiana.

TULSA: The Golden Hurricane (4-1) stayed perfect in league action by outlasting UAB, 49-42, in a thriller at Legion Field. Alex Singleton rushed for three touchdowns, including the game-winner, while Trey Watts gained a team-best 93 yards. Cody Green completed 23-of-39 passes for 237 yards and two scores. Slot wideout Willie Carter had a strong showing with seven receptions for 71 yards and a score Daeshon Bufford recorded eight tackles and three sacks to anchor the defense. Tulsa gained 478 yards on offense and limited the Blazers to 337 yards. The Golden Hurricane will try to make it five in a row on Saturday when they invade Joan C. Edwards Stadium to square off with Marshall.

UAB: The Blazers (0-4) were unable to turn a great performance by Austin Brown into a victory as they lost, 49-42, to Tulsa in their C-USA opener. Brown threw for 337 yards and three scores in his starting debut, but he also tossed an interception and was sacked seven times. It did not take Brown much time at all to make an impact in his first start. The Blazers' quarterback completed a 75-yard touchdown pass to Jamarcus Nelson on UAB's first play from scrimmage to give his team an early, 7-0 advantage. Nelson made some huge plays along the way to 146 receiving yards and two touchdowns. Although Darrin Reaves gained 61 yards and scored three rushing touchdowns, the Blazers finished with just one rushing yard as a team. The Blazers have a five-game losing streak, which dates back to last season, as they head into their final non-conference test versus Southeastern Louisiana.

UCF: A strong performance by the defensive unit was not enough as the Knights (2-2) lost 21-16 to the Missouri Tigers in a battle at Bright House Networks Stadium. Blake Bortles led the team with 267 yards and two touchdowns on 29- of-43 passing. Storm Johnson turned 15 carries into 93 yards. The Knights compiled five sacks, but lost after allowing one big 80-yard pass play and a 66-yard punt return for a score. Missouri was just 1-for-11 on third down conversions. UCF had the ball late in the game trailing by five points, but Jeff Godfrey fumbled at midfield which ended the Knights' chance of a comeback. UCF returns to action on Thursday when it hosts East Carolina for Conference USA action.

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