Miners travel to Houston to face Rice Saturday

El Paso, TX - UTEP [3-7, 1-5 Conference USA] and the program’s all-time leading rusher Aaron Jones will travel to Houston to take on Rice [2-8, 1-6 C-USA] on Nov. 19. Kickoff is slated for 11 a.m. CT/10 MT at Rice Stadium and will be televised on ESPN3. The Miners are coming off a heartbreaking 35-31 loss at Florida Atlantic on Nov. 12. Jones, C-USA’s leading rusher, surged to the top of the program’s all-time rushing list after he shredded the Owls defense for 229 yards and a pair of scores. The junior will enter this weekend’s contest with 3,738 rushing yards in his career. With the loss, however, the Miners were eliminated from bowl contention. Rice won its second game in 2016, posting a tight 22-21 victory at Charlotte. UTEP will close out the regular season at home on Nov. 26 against North Texas.

 

SERIES HISTORY

Rice has won eight of the last 10 games between the Texas rivals and leads the series 12-7.  The Miners snapped a four-game losing streak to the Owls with a 24-21 victory in El Paso last season.  The Owls are 8-2 versus the Miners in Houston with victories in the last five meetings at Rice Stadium.  UTEP’s last win in Houston came on Oct. 29, 2005.   

 

THE LAST MEETING

Jay Mattox converted a 24-yard field goal with 48 seconds left, as UTEP kept its bowl hopes alive with a 24-21 win over Rice on Nov. 6, 2015 in the Sun Bowl. Jeremiah Laufasa rushed for 79 of his 92 yards in the second half, including 52 on the game-winning drive, as the Miners beat the Owls for the first time in five years. After Nick Usher blocked Hayden Tobola’s 38-yard field goal attempt that could’ve put Rice into the lead, the Miners took possession with 8:13 remaining in the fourth quarter. They proceeded to milk 7:25 off the clock with a 16-play, 73-yard scoring drive. Mack Leftwich handed the ball off to Laufasa 10 times on the series.  At one point Laufasa got the call on seven straight plays, gaining 51 yards while picking up three first downs. Rice’s last-ditch comeback attempt was foiled as time expired when Kelvin Fisher Jr. broke up Driphus Jackson’s pass to Zach Wright in the end zone. The Miners responded in the second half when leading rusher and special teams ace LaQuintus Dowell left the game with an injury. The teams played to a 14-14 draw at halftime.  Jaquan White had a big first half for the Miners, reeling in three catches for 75 yards and two scores. His 58-yard reception knotted the game at 7, and his two-yard catch right before the break deadlocked the contest at 14.  White collected 90 yards on four catches. The Miners gained 392 yards as Leftwich completed 18-of-36 passes for 231 yards.  They also rushed for 161 yards on 34 carries. Standouts for the Miners on defense included Alvin Jones (11 tackles), Jimmy Musgrave (six tackles/one tackle for loss) and Roy Robertson-Harris (four tackles/one sack/1.5 tackles for loss).

 

CONNECTIONS 

UTEP DLs Christian Harper [North Shore High School] and Brian Madunezium [Nimitz High School] each played their high school football in Houston. UTEP Head Coach Sean Kugler and Rice tight ends coach David Sloan have crossed paths on multiple occasions. Kugler coached with the Miners during the 1993 and 1994 seasons, while Sloan played at New Mexico during those two years. Kugler was the tight ends coach with the Detroit Lions during the 2001 season where Sloan played tight end and led the Lions with seven touchdown receptions, while being named as a Pro Bowl alternate. UTEP OL John De La Rosa and Rice WR Derek Brown attended Bay City High School. UTEP’s Assistant AD for Football Operations, Nate Poss, is a graduate of Rice University and played for the Owls from 1973-76. Rice Safeties Coach Larry Hoefer had two separate stints as an assistant coach at UTEP, including serving as defensive coordinator during the WAC championship 2000 season. Kugler was also on the UTEP staff in 2000 as the offensive line coach. Rice Co-Offensive Coordinator/Quarterbacks Coach Larry Edmondson was on the 1988 Southern Miss staff as the wide receivers coach. UTEP and Southern Miss faced each other in the Independence Bowl in 1988. 

 

ABOUT RICE

The Owls were eliminated from bowl contention early in the season, but are coming off a solid 22-21 victory at Charlotte on Nov. 12. Rice is 2-2 in its last four contests, which also includes a 65-44 win against Prairie View A&M on Oct. 22 in Houston. Rice is averaging 21.9 points per game, which ranks last in Conference USA, while its scoring defense [38.6 ppg] alsp ranks last. Rice averages 163.3 rushing yards per game [ranks no. 10 in C-USA] led by Darik Dillard’s 380 rushing yards and Samuel Stewart’s 60.3 rushing yards per game. The Owls have also rushed for 19 scores led by QB Tyler Stehling, who has four rushing touchdowns. Stehling has thrown for 2,023 yards on 192-of-314 passing with 12 touchdowns and seven interceptions. Zach Wright [35.9 yards per game] leads the team in receptions [34], while Temi Alaka [40.8 yards per game] leads with 408 yards on 26 receptions [15.7 avg.]. Stewart leads with three receiving scores. Haden Tobola is 6-for-9 on field goals and 26-of-28 on PATs. Emmanuel Ellerbee leads the defense in tackles [94] and sacks [3.5], while Tabari McGaskey paces the squad with 11.0 tackles for loss. The defense has picked off four passes by four different defenders. 

 

@SHOWTYME_29 IS THE G.O.A.T.

Aaron Jones will go down as UTEP’s greatest running back of all time after the junior became UTEP’s all-time leading rusher at Florida Atlantic on Nov. 12. During the second quarter of the contest, Jones ran for a nine-yard dash that put the El Paso native over the mark. He was at 66 yards rushing at that point of the contest. John Harvey [3,576 yards] held the no. 1 spot for 28 years. Harvey played for the Orange and Blue during the 1985-88 seasons. 

 

AARON'S HISTORIC SEASON

Aaron Jones leads Conference USA with a career-high 1,397 rushing yards, while his 139.7 yards per contest is also a league best. Jones’s 2016 total is currently the program’s third-best single-season output. Jones ran for 1,321 yards in 2014, the program’s fifth-best single-season performance. Jones is on pace for around 1,676 yards, which would set the program’s single-season record. Donald Buckram ran for 1,594 yards in 2009 while Fred Wendt gained 1,546 yards in 1948. In C-USA only contests, Jones has rushed for 730 yards in six games [121.7 yards per game], also a league best.

 

OTHER C-USA NOTES

Aaron Jones is tied for second with four other Conference USA rushers with 13 rushing touchdowns, as WKU’s Anthony Wales leads the pack with 18 scores. Jones’s yards per rush [7.3 avg.] rates second behind LA Tech’s Boston Scott [8.35 avg.]. Jones’s 191 rushing attempts rank second behind Southern Miss’ Ito Smith [196]. Jones is tied with Middle Tennessee’s I’Tavius Mathers with six 100-yard performances, while Jones is the only C-USA rusher to produce multiple [three] 200-plus yard games in 2016. Jones’s 249-yard season-opening showing against NM State ranks second behind Florida Atlantic’s Devin Singletary’s 252 yards in a single game in C-USA.

 

SINGLE-SEASON TOUCHDOWNS

Aaron Jones has also tallied 15 total touchdowns in 2016 [13 rush, 2 rec.]. Donald Buckram accounted for 21 total scores in 2009, while Fred Wendt scored 20 touchdowns in 1948. John Harvey [1987] and Marcus Thomas [2007] each scored 18 touchdowns during their respective campaigns, while Harvey [1986], Lee Mays [2000] and Johnnie Lee Higgins, Jr. [2006] each found the end zone 15 times each. 

 

SINGLE-SEASON POINTS

Aaron Jones has tallied 90 points in 2016, tying with John Harvey [1986], Lee Mays [2000] and Johnnie Lee Higgins, Jr. [2006] for the fifth-best single-season performance in school history. Harvey [1987] and Marcus Thomas [2007] each registered 108 points, while Donald Buckram scored 126 points in 2009. Fred Wendt scored 152 points which also includes his 32 extra-point attempts in 1948.

 

CARRYING THE LOAD

Aaron Jones rushed 27 times at Florida Atlantic and now has 620 attempts in his career. He ranks third on the program’s all-time list behind Howard Jackson [667] and John Harvey [678]. 

 

AARON'S NATIONAL PRESENCE

Aaron Jones is the fourth-leading rusher in the FBS with 1,397 yards, ranking behind Wyoming’s Brian Hill [1,417 yards], Texas’ D’Onta Foreman [1,613 yards] and the national leader San Diego State’s Donnel Pumphrey [1,779 yards]. Jones also ranks fourth in rushing yards per game [139.7] and rates tied for ninth with nine other players with 13 rushing touchdowns. 

 

BACK-TO-BACK 200-YARD GAMES

Aaron Jones ripped the Florida Atlantic defense for 229 yards, making it his second consecutive 200-yard performance. Jones rushed for 228 yards against Houston Baptist on Nov. 5. Jones is only the third Miner to reach such a milestone as Donald Buckram rushed for 234 yards at Tulane on Nov. 7, 2009 and another 241 yards at SMU on Nov. 14. John Harvey was the first to accomplish the feat when he ran for 209 yards against New Mexico on Oct. 31, 1987 and gained 202 yards at Utah on Nov. 7. 

 

#ANOTHER ONE

Aaron Jones registered another 200-yard game, his fourth-such performance, this past weekend at Florida Atlantic. Jones is tied with Fred Wendt for the school record after he surpassed Donald Buckram and John Harvey on the list.  They each tallied a trio of 200-yard rushing performances. Jones opened his junior campaign by rushing for a career-high 249 yards in the season opener against NM State. Jones commenced the 2014 season with a 237-yard output at New Mexico. 

 

3,000-YARD CLUB

Aaron Jones [3,738 yards], John Harvey [3,576 yards] and Howard Jackson [3,466 yards] are the only running backs in UTEP history to surpass 3,000 rushing yards during their respective careers.

 

MUTIPLE 1,000-YARD CAMPAIGNS

Aaron Jones has rushed for a career-best 1,397 yards in 2016, marking the second 1,000-yard campaign of his career. Jones is only the third Miner ever, and first since Howard Jackson, to produce multiple 1,000-yard seasons. Jones rushed for 1,321 yards in 2014. Jackson produced 1,146 yards in 2003 and followed with 1,187 yards in 2004. Toraino Singleton rushed for 1,277 yards in 1994 and another 1,358 yards in 1995. 

 

TD JONES

Aaron Jones has posted 29 rushing scores during his career after running for a pair of touchdowns at Florida Atlantic. Jones is ranked no. 2 on the program’s all-time list behind John Harvey’s 42 rushing touchdowns.

 

RACKING UP THE TD'S

Aaron Jones has scored 35 total touchdowns in his career – 29 on the ground and six in the air. Jones now has 210 career points, tied for no. 2 in school history with Johnnie Lee Higgins, Jr. [35 TDs] and behind John Harvey’s 306 points [51 TDs]. 

 

JONES LIKES THE END ZONE

Aaron Jones, after scoring a pair of touchdowns at Florida Atlantic, now has scored multiple touchdowns in 13 career games. Jones opened the 2016 season with a pair of rushing scores against NM State, scored two more against FIU on Oct. 8 and found the end zone a trio of times at UTSA on Oct. 22. 

 

DOUBLE-DIGIT SCORES

Aaron Jones is the first Miner since Kris Adams to produce multiple seasons of double-digit touchdowns. Jones has 15 total touchdowns in 2016, while he tallied 14 total scores in 2014. Adams produced 14 touchdowns in 2008 and 14 more in 2010. 

 

100-YARD PERFORMANCES

Aaron Jones went over 100 yards for the 16th time in his career at Florida Atlantic to tie John Harvey’s school record.  He has gone over the century mark on six occasions in 2016, including three of the last four games.

 

MOVING UP THE C-USA RUSHING LIST

Aaron Jones moved up five spots to no. 7 on the Conference USA all-time rushing list with 3,738 yards after rushing for 229 yards at Florida Atlantic. Jones needs 448 yards to move past SMU’s Zach Line [4,185 yards]. Memphis’ DeAngelo Williams leads the all-time list with 6,026 yards. Jones ranks tied for 22nd with 29 career rushing scores, while his 35 total touchdowns are tied for no. 21. LA Tech’s Kenneth Dixon, Williams and Rice’s Jarrett Dillard lead the C-USA all-time list with 60 total touchdowns. Williams leads the C-USA all-time rushing touchdowns list with 55. Jones’s 1,397 yards in 2016 is currently the 20th best single-season performance in C-USA history. Kevin Smith of UCF rushed for 2,567 yards in 2007, ranking no. 1 for a single season. Jones has 4,322 yards of total offense which ranks no. 10 on the all-time list. Jones needs 235 yards to pass Houston’s Patrick Edwards [4,556 all-purpose yards].


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