UTEP Uses Strong Second Half to Close Out Green Wave in Ruston
Tulane falls, 45-21, despite 376 yards from Lester Ricard
Oct. 14, 2005
RUSTON, La. - UTEP broke open its Friday night game with Tulane by scoring the final 21 points of the contest to take a 45-21 victory from the Green Wave in Conference USA college football action on Friday evening at Joe Aillet Stadium on the campus of Louisiana Tech University.
The game was the fourth "home" game for Tulane in its fourth different stadium within the state of Louisiana. The Green Wave, which normally plays home games in the Louisiana Superdome, was displaced by Hurricane Katrina on August 29th.
Trailing 24-14, Tulane (2-3, 1-2 C-USA) pulled within three when quarterback Lester Ricard found Preston Brown for a three-yard touchdown strike with 10:46 to go in the third quarter. After Tulane forced UTEP to punt, the Green Wave fumbled on its first play and the Miners' Jeremy Jones scooped up the loose ball and scored from 25 yards out to make it 31-21.
For the game, Tulane turned the ball over a season-high three times. UTEP scored a pair of touchdowns following the turnovers while the third was a fumble on the UTEP five-yard line as the Wave looked to close the gap at the end of the first half.
"There were three big turnovers," Tulane coach Chris Scelfo said. "The one right before the half, and then one coming out when we had the momentum in the second half. That really changed the complexion of the game. It was still early in the game, but against a football team as good as UTEP, you can't do that."
In the fourth quarter, UTEP (4-1, 2-1 C-USA) added another pair of touchdowns as Jordan Palmer found Casey Mauch for a one-yard score and Marcus Thomas scored on a nine-yard run.
Ricard completed 29-of-52 passes for 376 yards, the second-best total of his career, and three touchdowns with no interceptions. However, UTEP's Palmer threw for 278 yards and three touchdowns while Miner running back Marcus Thomas had 12 carries for 93 yards and a touchdown to go with five receptions for 110 yards. UTEP receiver Johnnie Lee Higgins also had a pair of touchdown receptions.
"We were able to run the football and we were able to play hard on defense for the whole game," UTEP coach Mike Price said.
"I think Lester played well tonight," Scelfo said of his quarterback. "I thought he got better and better as the game went on. Hopefully, he can keep that up, because you can see he can make the throws and he can give us an opportunity in our offense to make big plays. That's what we need from him."
Tulane receivers Bubba Terranova (eight catches, 103 yards, 1 touchdown) and Preston Brown (five catches, 93 yards, 2 TDs) had big games for the Wave.
"Terranova and Preston Brown have really taken leadership roles on offense. They're both playing with a tremendous amount of pride and effort. They really made some big time plays."
Tulane had traveled more than 2500 miles by bus for its first four games while this was its first game played at a semblance of home - the Green Wave team is based on the Louisiana Tech campus. The other "home" games have been played in Shreveport, Baton Rouge and Lafayette.
"I would have to say these guys have shown tremendous courage," Price said of the Tulane team. "I'm so proud to be coaching with them in our conference. I wish them the very best luck."