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Miners fall in emotional last game for seniors, Price

Rice defeats UTEP 33-24 on season finale

Published: Sunday, November 25, 2012

Updated: Friday, May 17, 2013 12:05

Mike Price

Justin Stene/The Prospector

Mike Price retired after 31 years as head coach in the NCAA. He spent the last nine with UTEP, coaching his last game for the Miners against Rice Nov. 24.

Mike Price coached his last game for the Miners after nine years at the helm as UTEP dropped a close contest to the Rice Owls, 33-24 on senior night, Nov. 24 at the Sun Bowl.

“He has always been by my side, I’m always going to look up to the man,” senior linebacker Josh Fely said. “It would have meant the world to sent him out with a win and I’m sorry I couldn’t do that.”

With a 2-point lead in the fourth quarter, the Owls were able to close the game with a 97-yard kickoff return by junior Jeremy Eddington to seal the win for Rice, who with a 6-6 record became bowl eligible.

The Miners jumped off to a fast start to the game and on their second possession senior quarterback Nick Lamaison was able to connect with sophomore wide receiver Jordan Leslie for a 65-yard touchdown pass to put UTEP on the board first.

On the first play of the second half runningback Charles Ross took it to the endzone from 4 yards out to put the Owls on top 10-7.

“They threw different things at us, we tried to make adjustments but in the end we just fell short,” Fely said. “It started out emotional, we came fired up, and we really played hard for 60 minutes.”

The Miners had an answer on their next possession as the move the ball 75 yards in eight plays, the drive was capped by a 4-yard touchdown reception by senior Mike Edwards.

Four minutes later the Owls answered back with a 6-yard touchdown run by Eddington to give Rice the three point lead before the half.

Freshman Blaire Sullivan came into the game at quarterback in the second half and led the Miners on a 4-play, 65-yard drive to score. Sullivan kept the ball and as he was reaching the goal line fumbled the ball, but was recovered by sophomore running back Nathan Jeffery in the end zone to get a 21-17 lead.

After scoring a field goal Rice managed to score another touchdown on a 20-play 95-yard drive that took six minutes off the clock and was capped off by a 9-yard run by junior running back Charles Ross to take a 26-21 lead.

The Miners could only put three more points on the board, but the ensuing kickoff returned for a touchdown was the nail in the coffin for Rice as Eddington ran it back 97 yards. The return for the score was the first for Rice since 1984, ending the longest drought in the NCAA.

“We talked about how much of an inspiration coach Price is and how it affected each of our lives in a positive way,” Fely said. “Now we’ll keep his legacy moving forward from here on.”

The Miners finish off a sub-par season with a 3-9 record and a 48-61 record for Price during the nine season he spent with the Miners.

“I appreciate this chance more than you’ll ever know, it was great for my family,” Price said. “It wasn’t just because the football coach job, it was great for the Price family and El Paso has been really good for us.”

After the game the UTEP players with tears in their eyes thanked Price for everything he did for them and the program.

“He (Price) always has supported me as well as my teammates,” sophomore wide receiver Jordan Leslie said. “I fell good coming out here and I exploded in the first half, too bad we couldn’t finish it.”

Price, who sat in front of the media one last time, said that he felt very fortunate and thankful for getting the opportunity to coach the Miners for nine years and took a second opportunity to endorse defensive coordinator Andre Patterson as his successor for head coach.

“I want Andre Patterson to get this job, there is nothing bad with new blood, there is nothing wrong with change,” Price said. “We‘ve to embrace the change, the only thing we know about the future is that it will be different.”

Edwin Delgado may be reached at

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