Oct. 23, 2005
EL PASO, Texas -
UTEP quarterback Jordan Palmer threw for three touchdowns as the Miners proved too much for the Marshall Thundering Herd in a 31-3 Conference USA win Saturday night at the Sun Bowl.
Palmer finished the night with 215 yards on 17-of-25 passing, which helped lead the Miners (5-1, 3-1 C-USA) to a 17-3 halftime advantage. Sophomore running back Ahmad Bradshaw (Bluefield, Va./Graham) paced the Thundering Herd (3-4, 2-2 C-USA) offense, posting a season-high 133 yards on 17 carries on the ground.
Bernie Morris (Orlando, Fla./Jones) threw for 125 yards on 13-of-30 passing. Marcus Fitzgerald (Minneapolis, Minn./Academy of Holy Angels) led all Herd receivers with 41 yards on a pair of catches.
UTEP's Tyler Ebell rushed for 92 yards on 13 carries, while Aaron Givens led the Miners with 54 receiving yards on four catches.
Marshall appeared to have overcome its recent first quarter woes with a strong opening drive, which included a pair of impressive runs by Bradshaw and Morris. But, a 15-yard pass interference penalty called on the Herd pushed Marshall back to its own 32-yard line, ultimately halting the drive.
UTEP took a 3-0 lead with 8:03 remaining in the first quarter. Following a Marty Biagi (Shelbyville, Ky./Shelbyville) punt, UTEP's Johnny Higgins returned the punt 38 yards to the UTEP 48-yard line. From there, the Miners were able to drive into Marshall territory, allowing Reagan Schneider to connect on a season-long 49-yard field goal. The kick capped off a 6-play, 20-yard drive by the Miners.
However, later in the first quarter, UTEP's Emeri Spence muffed a Biagi punt and was recovered by Donte' Newsome (Chesapeake, Va./Deep Creek) at the UTEP 39-yard line. But, Marshall was unable to convert on the Miners' special teams miscue as Ian O'Connor (Knoxville, Tenn./Hall) missed a 51-yard field goal.
UTEP took advantage of the Herd's missed field goal, driving 65 yards on eight plays in 2:41, capped off by a 22-yard touchdown pass from Jordan Palmer to Marcus Thomas to extend the Miners lead to 10-0.
The Miners shut out the Herd in the first quarter, marking the fifth consecutive game that the Herd has been unable to score in the opening period. The Herd hasn't scored in the first quarter since Sept. 10, when Marshall posted 10 first-quarter points against Kansas State.
Marshall, however, was able to cut into the Miners' lead, as the Herd used an 11-play, 72-yard drive that lasted 4:30. O'Connor's 26-yard field goal cut the UTEP lead to 10-3 with 11:17 remaining in the second quarter.
With 7:25 remaining the first half, Morris threw an interception to Alex Obomese on third-and-10. Obomese returned it to the Marshall 40-yard line. Five plays later, UTEP capitalized on the Herd turnover as Palmer connected with Higgins on a 29-yard touchdown with 6:06 remaining in the second quarter. Palmer's second touchdown pass of the first half extended UTEP's lead to 17-3.
Morris led all rushers with 43 yards on eight carries in the first half, while completing 9-of-19 passing for 66 yards with an interception. Bradshaw added 29 yards rushing on six carries and 26 yards receiving on four catches.
Thomas and Tyler Ebell both rushed for 36 yards for UTEP in the first half. Palmer threw for 118 yards on 10-of-17 passing with a pair of touchdowns. Higgins added 34 receiving yards, including the 29-yard touchdown reception.
Although Marshall dominated the first half time of possession (16:14 to UTEP's 13:46), the Miners still held a 14-point lead heading into the second half. UTEP's 17 first-half points was the second-most first-half points allowed by the Herd defense this season.
UTEP extended its lead to 21 points, 24-3, after Palmer threw his third touchdown pass of the game. This time it was to Jamar Hunt for nine yards with 10:00 remaining in the third quarter.
Nearly six minutes later, Matt Austin's two-yard touchdown run allowed the Miners to take a 31-3 third quarter lead with 3:55 remaining, which would stand for the remainder of the game.
Marshall had an opportunity to score in the waning moments of the third quarter, but on fourth down at the UTEP 11-yard line, Morris' pass, intended for Hiram Moore (Huntington, W.Va./Huntington) was broken up.
The Marshall Thundering Herd will return to action Saturday, Oct. 29, when it travels to Mobile, Ala., to face the Tulane Green Wave in a scheduled 7 p.m. (EST) kickoff at Ladd-Peebles Stadium.