UTEP to host Louisiana Tech on homecoming
El Paso, TX — UTEP (1-3, 0-1 C-USA) and La Tech (1-4, 0-1 C-USA) renew an old rivalry -- this time as members of Conference USA -- in the Miners’ 82nd Homecoming game on Saturday in the Sun Bowl. Early kickoff is slated for 5:30 p.m. UTEP and La Tech were both affiliated with the Western Athletic Conference from 2001-04. The Miners are 37-43-1 all-time on Homecoming but have won five straight Homecoming games, beating Tulane in 2008 (24-21), Houston in 2009 (58-41), Rice in 2010 (44-24), Colorado State in 2011 (31-17) and Tulane in 2012 (24-20). UTEP’s five-game Homecoming winning streak is its longest since a school-record string of six consecutive victories from 1937-42. Louisiana Tech has served as the Miners’ Homecoming opponent once previously; the Bulldogs topped UTEP, 38-35, on Oct. 11, 2003.
La Tech leads 6-1-1. UTEP is winless (0-6-1) in its last seven games against La Tech after beating the Bulldogs, 27-0, in the first meeting between the schools on Nov. 18, 1939 in El Paso. The Miners faced the Bulldogs three teams as joint members of the Western Athletic Conference from 2001-03. UTEP is 1-3-1 versus La Tech in games played in the Sun Bowl, including a 38-35 loss in the last matchup between the teams on Oct. 11, 2003.
The Last Meeting
Louisiana Tech battled back from a 15-point second quarter deficit and edged UTEP, 38-35, on Oct. 11, 2003 in the Sun Bowl. The Bulldogs trailed 28-13 with 1:09 to go in the first half, but outscored the Miners 25-7 the rest of the way. Louisiana Tech scored the last touchdown of the first half and first of the second half to knot the contest at 28. The Bulldogs’ Luke McCown, who finished with 328 yards passing, hit D.J. Curry for a 48-yard touchdown, and Josh Scobee added a 44-yard field goal for a 38-28 advantage. The Miners sliced the deficit to 38-35 on Orlando Cruz’s third rushing touchdown of the night with 54 seconds remaining in the game. But Louisiana Tech recovered the onside kick and held on. UTEP’s Howard Jackson finished with 297 all-purpose yards (142 rushing, 104 kickoff returns, 51 receiving). Cruz completed 18-of-33 passes for 285 yards, and Johnnie Lee Higgins, Jr. had 126 yards receiving. Curry (113 yards) and Chris Norwood (102) each had over 100 yards receiving for Louisiana Tech, which was outgained offensively 535-493.
UTEP DBs Jameel Erving and Nick Gathrite, UTEP OL Eric Lee, La Tech WR Jon Greenwalt and La Tech OL Richard Greenwalt all played at Riverside Community College previously. UTEP LB Trey Brown, UTEP OL Chris Thomas, UTEP WR Jaquan White, La Tech DB Kendall Hayes and La Tech OL Josh Robinson all attended Lancaster [Texas] High School. UTEP OL James Robinson and La Tech DB Josh Ross both played at the City College of San Francisco before transferring in to Division I schools. UTEP TE Craig Wenrick and La Tech RB Hunter Lee both played their prep ball at Flower Mound [Texas] High School. UTEP TE Eric Tomlinson and La Tech DL Kevin Kisseberth both graduated from Klein [Texas] High School. La Tech’s Skip Holtz is 3-0 against the Miners as a head coach, including 45-42 (overtime) and 53-21 victories when he was the head coach at East Carolina in 2007 & 2008 respectively, and a 52-24 win when he was the head coach at USF in 2011.
About La Tech
After a banner 2012 campaign in which it finished 9-3 and won at Illinois and Virginia while dropping a two-point decision to Texas A&M (59-57), La Tech has struggled early this season while adapting to the loss of 15 starters. The Bulldogs are 1-4 with a win over Lamar (27-14) and losses to N.C. State (40-14), Tulane (24-15), Kansas (13-10) and Army (35-16). La Tech has used two quarterbacks this season -- junior Scotty Young, a Texas Tech transfer (46-for-87, 452 yards, 2 TDs), and redshirt freshman Ryan Higgins (62-for-107, 666 yards, 3 TDs). In the loss to Army last week at Dallas, Higgins completed 20-of-36 passes for 320 yards and Andrew Guillot snared five catches for 123 yards. The Bulldogs couldn’t contain Army’s rushing attack (414 yards) and were dominated in the time of possession line 39:57 to 20:03. For the year, La Tech averages 24:51 of possession. The Bulldogs also have lost eight fumbles in 2013. While sophomore Kenneth Dixon (70.8 ypg) and redshirt freshman Tevin King (61.8 ypg) have headed up La Tech’s ground game this season, the Bulldogs have had four different leading receivers in five contests with six players averaging between 20 and 42 yards per outing. The defense is led by linebacker Daniel Cobb’s 43 tackles and eight tackles for losses. He graduated from Texas Tech and is playing his final season in Ruston. Cobb ranks 16th nationally in tackles for losses (1.6 avg.), while senior DL IK Enemkpali is 11th in the FBS in sacks (1.1 avg.).
Colorado State scored 24 unanswered points after UTEP rallied from a 28-7 deficit to tie the game in the third quarter, catapulting the Rams past the Miners, 59-42, last Saturday at Hughes Stadium. Bidding for a third consecutive road win, UTEP cut into the 21-point halftime deficit as Jameill Showers threw a pair of long touchdown passes (75 yards and 48 yards) to Jordan Leslie and rushed for a one-yard score of his own. The Miners had a chance to take the lead after Colorado State’s Jared Roberts missed a 35-yard field goal. But Showers fumbled at the two-yard line and the Rams’ Joe Kawulok tackled Brander Craighead in the end zone for the safety to start the game-changing spurt. Colorado State scored touchdowns on its next three drives -- a 56-yard pass from Garrett Grayson to Rashard Higgins, a 37-yard run by Kapri Bibbs and a one-yard run by Grayson. The Miners stopped the bleeding with 3:58 remaining in the game as Showers threw an eight-yard touchdown pass to Eric Tomlinson. Showers established career-highs in all passing categories, finishing 26-of-43 for 365 yards and five TDs. Leslie collected three receptions for 130 yards. Aaron Jones was the Miners’ leading rusher for the third time in four games with 23 carries for 94 yards. Grayson completed 17-of-28 passes for 307 yards and three touchdowns for Colorado State. Higgins reeled in six catches for 156 yards, and Kivon Cartwright matched him with two touchdown receptions. Bibbs rushed for 147 yards and three scores.