HATTIESBURG, Miss. – Nick Mullens threw four touchdowns (23-of-33 for 277 yards) and DJ Thompson hauled in 10 receptions for 112 yards and a pair of scores, as Southern Miss defeated UTEP 34-13 on a rainy Saturday at M.M. Roberts Stadium.
Southern Miss (6-3, 4-1 Conference USA) reached bowl eligibility, while UTEP dropped to 1-3 in C-USA play (3-5 overall).
A lightning delay initially stopped the game, but a tornado warning ensued, delaying the contest for more than an hour. The game resumed with 14:54 left in the game. The Miners, following the delay, took the ball and drove 57 yards on nine plays that ended with a LaQuintus Dowell one-yard touchdown run, that made the score 27-13.
With less than 10 minutes to play, UTEP forced an incomplete pass on a Traun Roberson breakup on second and six, but the Golden Eagles converted the third down on a Michael Thomas 39-yard reception.
On the same drive, Southern Miss put the game away when punter Tyler Sarrazin ran for an eight-yard touchdown on a fake field goal.
The Golden Eagles struck first with an eight-play, 63-yard drive that resulted in a Mullens 11-yard touchdown pass to Thomas. Traun Roberson wrapped up the receiver at the one-yard line and came close to batting the ball down.
The Miners answered with a 17-yard drive (77 yards) that resulted in a 37-yard Jay Mattox field goal, making the score 7-3. The offense chewed up 8:49 off the clock on the drive.
With the score 7-3, UTEP forced a turnover when Nick Usher recorded a sack and forced fumble on Mullens at the UTEP 28-yard line. Gino Bresolin recovered the ball, but the Miners couldn’t convert the turnover into points as Mattox missed on a 50-yard field goal attempt with 48 seconds remaining in the half.
Southern Miss took advantage of the missed opportunity and drove the ball 68 yards on three plays. The drive took all of 33 seconds, as Mullens found Jalen Richard on a screen pass for a nine-yard score. The drive was highlighted by a Richard 38-yard run into UTEP territory and a Michael Thomas reception in triple coverage at the four-yard line. The extra point was missed, making the score 13-3.
Mattox also connected on a 26-yard field goal at the 4:11 mark of the third quarter, cutting the deficit to 14 points (20-6).
Jeremiah Laufasa registered career highs in receiving yards (54) on a trio of catches, including a career-long 39-yard reception. Cole Freytag also registered a career-best three receptions for 41 yards.
Alvin Jones led the defense with eight tackles – his fourth time leading the team in 2015. Roy Robertson-Harris registered seven stops, while Usher and Kelvin Fisher Jr. each tallied six tackles.
The Miners will return to the Sun Bowl, as they play host to Rice on Friday, Nov. 6. Kickoff is slated for 6 p.m. MT and will be televised on CBS Sports Network.
Author: UTEP Athletics