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Conference USA news and notes

News and notes for week 9 of the college football season from Conference USA.
EAST CAROLINA: The Pirates (5-2, 3-1) had an open week after their 55-14 rout of Southern Miss on Oct. 19. They will be back in action this Saturday when they play FIU in Miami, Florida.

FIU: Due to a poor offensive display, the Panthers (1-6, 1-2) lost for the second time in a row as they suffered a 23-7 setback to Louisiana Tech at Alfonso Field. FIU did a decent job defensively, allowing only one touchdown and five field goals, but its only score game on a 38-yard touchdown pass from Jake Medlock to Jonnu Smith in the opening minute of the second half. Medlock was sacked five times and finished the game 11-of-26 for 128 yards with two interceptions. Smith paced the team with 54 yards on two receptions. Justin Halley made two of FIU's three interceptions in the contest. Markeith Russell registered a team-high 11 total tackles. The Panthers will stay at home this Saturday to host East Carolina.

FLORIDA ATLANTIC: The Owls (2-6, 1-4) allowed over 600 yards of total offense as they were downed, 45-10, by Auburn in their final non-conference tilt of the season. FAU allowed the Tigers to build an insurmountable 38-0 lead before it posted any points on the scoreboard. Auburn finished with 27 first downs compared to just 10 by the Owls. The Tigers powered their way to 444 rushing yards with a 7.2 yard per carry average. Jaquez Johnson led FAU with 133 passing yards on 9-of-20 efficiency along with 58 yards and a rushing score on nine carries. Daniel McKinney reeled in five passes for 64 yards in the losing effort. Andrae Kirk stood out on the defensive side of the ball with a career- best 12 tackles. The Owls return home to resume their C-USA slate against Tulane on Saturday.

LOUISIANA TECH: Kyle Fischer converted five field goals to lift the Bulldogs (3-5, 2-2) to a 23-7 decision over FIU. Kenneth Dixon also played a big role in the victory as he tallied 183 all-purpose yards. Dixon racked up 119 yards on the ground and was the team's leading receiver with 64 yards. Ryan Higgins completed 20-of-31 pass attempts for 192 yards and a score, but was also picked off three times. Bryson Abraham made some impact plays on the defensive side of the ball for Louisiana Tech as he registered a pair of interceptions. Beau Fitte made a team-high six tackles and one sack. The Bulldogs have now won two games in a row, despite going only 3-of-15 on third-down conversions. They will look to make it three wins in a row after their bye this week.

MARSHALL: After a strong start to the season, the Thundering Herd (4-3, 2-1) fell apart defensively and suffered a 51-49 loss to Middle Tennessee at Floyd Stadium. Marshall had been perfect versus C-USA foes and won its previous two games. Coach Doc Holliday's defense was ranked at the top of the conference before it allowed the Blue Raiders to post 585 total yards to 448 from the Marshall offense. The Herd took a 49-45 lead with just 2:29 remaining as Essray Taliaferro scored on a two-yard touchdown run. MT stole the lead back on the final play of the game as Logan Kilgore threw a nine-yard touchdown pass to Tavarres Jefferson. MU's defense dropped three potential interceptions on the final drive. Rakeem Cato extended his streak of games with a touchdown pass to 25 as he went 19-of-35 for 235 yards with three scores and one INT. Taliaferro contributed 134 yards and two touchdowns on 24 carries. Kevin Grooms also rushed for two touchdowns. Gator Hoskins made seven catches for 88 yards and a touchdown, while Tommy Shuler reeled in six balls for 61 yards with a score. Evan McKelvey led the defense with 12 total tackles. MU will try to bounce back when its host the winless Southern Miss Golden Eagles at Joan C. Edwards Stadium on Saturday.

MIDDLE TENNESSEE: Logan Kilgore completed a nine-yard touchdown pass to Tavarres Jefferson to give the Blue Raiders (4-4, 2-2) a thrilling, 51-49, decision over Marshall on in a Thursday night shootout. Kilgore led the way for MTSU as it snapped a three-game losing slide by outlasting the Thundering Herd, who took the lead with just over two minutes left in regulation before Kilgore's late game heroics. Kilgore threw four touchdown passes and went 22- of-40 for 277 yards with only one interception. The Blue Raiders had no trouble rushing the ball against MU's top ranked defense and tallied 308 yards on 60 carries. Jordan Parker and Reggie Whatley both surpassed the century mark on the ground. Parker and Kilgore both scored rushing touchdowns as well. Jefferson made a team-high seven catches for 91 yards. T.T. Barber had a strong showing with 14 total tackles, while Kevin Byard made his mark with eight stops and an interception. Coach Rick Stockstill's squad hopes to carry its momentum on the road this Saturday in a bout with UAB.

NORTH TEXAS: The Mean Green (5-3, 3-1) are now just one game away from being bowl eligible for the first time since 2004 after their 55-14 rout of Southern Miss in Hattiesburg. NT built a 41-7 halftime lead after it allowed USM to run only seven offensive plays in the second quarter. NT amassed 529 yards of total offense and 30 first downs while limiting USM to just 249 total yards and 10 first downs. The Golden Eagles averaged only 1.9 yards per carry and managed to gain only 39 rushing yards. Derek Thompson completed 18-of-27 pass attempts for 300 yards and two touchdowns, but was also picked off twice. Brelan Chancellor made four catches for 127 yards and a touchdown, while Carlos Harris led the team with seven receptions which he turned into 87 yards. Reggie Pegram and Brandin Byrd combined for 135 yards and four of the Mean Green's six rushing touchdowns. NT's defense registered three interceptions, four sacks and seven tackles for loss. The Mean Green will try to secure bowl eligibility and win their fourth game in a row on Thursday when they host Rice.

RICE: The combination of Taylor McHargue and Jordan Taylor was unstoppable for Rice (6-2, 4-0) as it became bowl eligible with a 45-7 home victory over Texas- El Paso. Taylor piled up 185 yards and three touchdowns on four receptions, while McHargue went 8-of-19 passing for 259 yards with a career- high four TDs. Charles Ross tallied 152 yards and a touchdown on 21 carries. The Owls finished with 524 total yards of offense and stifled the Miners, who managed to gain only 364 total yards. Rice recorded a pair of takeaways and allowed UTEP inside the red zone only once. The Owls have now won four games in a row and are one of just two teams in the conference left with a perfect league record. They have a very tough test on Thursday as they head upstate to battle North Texas at Apogee Stadium.

SOUTHERN MISS: The Golden Eagles (0-7, 0-3) lost their 19th game in a row as they were pummeled, 55-14, at home by North Texas. Southern Miss was held to only 249 total yards of offense, including just 39 on the ground. It also achieved just 10 first downs compared to 30 first downs for UNT, which also racked up 529 total yards. In his first career start, freshman Nick Mullens completed 12-of-31 pass attempts for 210 yards with one touchdown and three interceptions. Dominique Sullivan was a bright spot with 97 yards and a touchdown on two catches. Dylan Reda anchored USM's defense with a game-high 14 tackles. The Golden Eagles fell behind 41-7 by halftime. They will try to snap their losing streak on Saturday when they travel to West Virginia to play Marshall.

TEXAS-EL PASO: The Miners trailed by only three points with six minutes left in the first half, however they were overpowered the rest of the way and lost, 45-7, to Rice in Houston. UTEP finished the game with only 364 yards of total offense and surrendered 524 total yards to the Owls. Aside from his 50-yard touchdown pass to Ian Hamilton, Blaire Sullivan was unimpressive, finishing 6- of-9 passing for 112 yards with an interception. Sullivan came in to relieve Jameill Showers, who left the game after being sacked in the second quarter. Hamilton made four grabs for 108 yards. Star wideout Jordan Leslie was bottled up and made just two catches for four yards. The Miners' ground attack was productive thanks to Aaron Jones, who compiled 186 yards on 29 carries including a career-long 81-yard run. UTEP will continue its three-game road trip with a visit to College Station for a tilt against Texas A&M.

TULANE: In his second start in as many games for the injured Nick Montana, Devin Powell threw a pair of touchdown passes to help Tulane (6-2, 4-0) defeat Tulsa, 14-7, in a low-scoring affair at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. The victory snapped an eight-game losing slide against the Golden Hurricane and kept the Green Wave perfect in league play, while making them bowl eligible for the first time since 2002. Powell connected on 17-of-29 attempts for 164 yards and was intercepted twice. Orleans Darkwa and Rob Kelley combined for 116 yards rushing. Ryan Grant and Justyn Shackleford continued to be a factor in the aerial attack, contributing 89 and 45 yards, respectively. Both wideouts reeled in a touchdown catch after Tulsa took a 7-0 lead in the opening moments of the second quarter. Sam Scofield was unstoppable as he anchored Tulane's defense with 18 tackles, 1.5 stops for loss and a forced fumble. Jordan Sullen made 10 stops and one of the Green Wave's three interception. Tulane takes aim at its fifth consecutive victory on Saturday at Florida Atlantic.

TULSA: The Golden Hurricane (2-5, 1-2) could not hold on to an early lead and dropped a 14-7 decision to Tulane in a West Division duel at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. Tulsa took a 7-0 lead just after the conclusion of the first frame when Trey Watts punched it in from a yard out. It was held scoreless the rest of the way, while the Green Wave's backup quarterback Devin Powell engineered a pair of scoring drives to give the hosts the edge. Dane Evans filled in for Cody Green, who was sidelined with an injury, and was intercepted three times. Evans went 13-of-30 passing for 139 yards, while Keevan Lucas made five grabs for 63 yards. Ja'Terian Douglas produced 79 yards on 17 carries and Watts chipped in 63 yards on 21 attempts. Will Barrow was one of four Tulsa players with at least nine tackles and also returned an interception 64 yards to set up the team's lone touchdown. The Golden Hurricane hope to avoid their fifth loss in six games this Saturday when they welcome Texas-San Antonio for a divisional tilt.

TX-SAN ANTONIO: A hot start powered the Roadrunners (3-5, 2-2) as they coasted to a 52-31 triumph over UAB at the Alamodome. UTSA gained a program-record 523 yards of total offense, including 331 yards in the first half. Its total of 52 points marked the most the school has put up against an FBS opponent. The Roadrunners began the game on a 24-0 run before allowing the Blazers on the scoreboard. UAB finished with 506 yards of total offense, but also committed three turnovers. Eric Soza did an excellent job for UTSA under center, completing 14-of-21 attempts for 235 yards and two touchdowns. He added 48 yards rushing on only seven carries, while David Glasco II paced the team with 73 yards on 11 attempts. Kam Jones scored on both of his rushing attempts, including a 27-yard scamper. UTSA will seek its second consecutive win on Saturday when it visits Tulsa.

UAB: The return of Jamarcus Nelson was not enough to save UAB (2-5, 1-2) as it was defeated, 52-31, by Texas-San Antonio at the Alamodome. Playing for the first time since Sept. 28, Nelson made five catches for 101 yards and a touchdown. Jonathan Perry came off the bench to amass 209 yards and a pair of touchdowns. Perry also added 60 yards on the ground. Jordan Howard and Darrin Reaves rushed 12 times for 90 and 65 yards, respectively, and scored one touchdown each. Perry replaced Austin Brown, who went 8-of-15 passing for 108 yards and an interception. UAB gained 506 yards of total offense and 29 first downs, but allowed UTSA to set a new school record with 523 total yards. The Blazers will head back to Birmingham to host Middle Tennessee in week 10.
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