Houston Drops C-USA Opener at UTEP, 58-41

    Case Keenum looks to throw during the first quarter.
    Case Keenum looks to throw during the first quarter.
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    Oct. 4, 2009

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    EL PASO, Texas - Despite a career-high 536 yards passing from junior quarterback Case Keenum, the undefeated run for No. 12 Houston came to an end Saturday night at the Sun Bowl as the Cougars dropped their Conference USA opener to UTEP, 58-41.

    The Cougars (3-1, 0-1 Conference USA) had earned their first ranking since 1991 and were hoping to become a BCS spoiler after two wins over Big 12 foes. Instead they watched UTEP fans storm the field seconds after the Miners (2-3, 1-0) beat a ranked team for the first time in 12 years.

    UTEP's Donald Buckram ran for a career-best 262 yards, including158 yards and all four of his scores during the second half when UTEP outscored UH 41-24, breaking a 17-17 halftime deadlock.

    The Cougars started quickly, taking an early 10-0 lead. After the Miners kicked a field goal, they stopped Houston's potent offense on fourth down at the UTEP eight-yard line.

    The Miners tied the game in the second quarter after forcing a fumble near midfield. UTEP scored on a 4-yard pass from Trevor Vittatoe to senior Tufick Shadrawy.

    UTEP outscored Houston 20-3 in the third quarter to take the lead for good. Buckram rushed for his first two touchdowns and Vittatoe hit Jeff Moturi with a 74-yard scoring pass.

    Junior wide out James Cleveland had 14 receptions for 147 yards and two touchdowns for Houston, while sophomore receiver Tyron Carrier also topped the century mark with 115 yards on 11 catches.

    Senior Roddray Walker sealed the win with a 70-yard touchdown return after recovering a fumble on a wild snap with 3:28 left in the game.

    Sophomore safety Nick Saenz led UH with 12 tackles on the night.

    Houston will attempt to bounce back next Saturday when it travels to Starkville, Miss., to face Mississippi State in its final non-conference contest of the season.



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