MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) -- DeAngelo Williams rushed for 236 yards and
two touchdowns, including the game-winner with 50 seconds left
Saturday night to lead Memphis to a 27-20 victory over previously
Williams' 3-yard touchdown was set up by a Derek Clenin
interception and 26-yard return to the Miner 9-yard line with 1:16
left. It was one of six turnovers for UTEP (3-1, 1-1 Conference
The Miners tied the game 20-20 with just over four minutes left
on a 29-yard pass from quarterback Jordan Palmer to Johnnie Lee
Higgins, followed by Palmer's run for the two-point conversion.
The Miners, off to their best start since 1987, continually
killed their chances with turnovers. Four times, UTEP lost the ball
inside the Memphis 25, including a pair of fumbles and an
interception by Palmer.
The fifth turnover was the one that set up the winning score for
Memphis (2-2, 1-1). Memphis defensive back O.C. Collins would close
out UTEP's chances when he intercepted Palmer's pass with 32
The game was delayed about 45 minutes because of a thunderstorm
in the area, but there was little, if any, rain during the game.
There also were four plays reviewed by the officials. In all four
cases, the ruling on the field stood.
Williams was the highlight of a patchwork offense, weakened by
injuries to the Tigers' top two quarterbacks. The offense was so
makeshift, Williams' most successful runs came when he lined up at
quarterback and took off running, including a 74-yard zig-zagging
third-quarter run that gave Memphis a 17-6 lead.
Memphis' offense under Billy Barefield was a lot of razzle with
little dazzle in the first half. Barefield, who was third on the
depth chart when the season started, became the starter after the
first two quarterbacks -- Patrick Byrne and Will Hudgens -- broke
their right legs.
The Tigers ran reverses, options out of the shotgun and had
receivers throwing passes. In fact, Memphis held a 7-6 lead at the
half on a 43-yard touchdown pass to Ryan Scott, not from Barefield,
but from receiver-turned-second-string-quarterback, Maurice Avery.
Otherwise, there was little success from the misdirection and
trick plays. With Barefield's ineptitude, the Miners' defense
concentrated on Williams, C-USA's leading rusher, who was held to
74 yards on 15 carries in the half.
While the Miners moved the ball, totaling 251 yards in the half,
they continuously made mistakes thwarting scoring opportunities.
Palmer, who had 217 passing before the break, threw an interception
deep in Tiger territory to stop one drive, then fumbled the snap to
Of the nine UTEP drives in the first half, the Miners reached
Memphis territory six times. Their first-half scores came on field
goals of 45 and 24 yards by Reagan Schneider.
The Miners finished with 505 yards total offense, including 431
through the air, compared to 374 for Memphis.