Courtesy of Conference USA
IRVING, Texas â€“ After booting three field goals, including the game-winner as time expired, UTEP sophomore K Dakota Warren has been named Conference USA Special Teams Player of the Week. Houston senior DB Loyce Means earned Defensive Player of the Week honors after recording two interceptions, one which he returned for a touchdown, in the Cougarsâ€™ 42-23 win over Tulane. For the second straight week, UAB junior QB Bryan Ellis picked up the Offensive Player of the Week award after throwing for 373 yards at Tennessee in his first career start.
Warren kicked three field goals, including the game-winning 18-yarder as time expired, lifting UTEP to a 16-13 win over Memphis on Saturday in the Sun Bowl. Warren also connected from 57 and 50 yards as he became only the second UTEP player since 1950 to hit two 50-yard field goals in a game, joining former NFL standout Chris Jacke, who hit a pair of 51-yarders at New Mexico in 1988. The 57-yard field goal by Warren against the Tigers is tied for the fourth-longest in UTEP history and is the second-longest by a sophomore. Warren is the first UTEP player to make three field goals in a game since Jose Martinez hit five vs. SMU in 2008.
Means recorded his second and third interceptions of the year on consecutive defensive drives to halt Tulaneâ€™s second-half resurgence. He returned the second pick 42 yards for a touchdown to give UH a final score of 42-23. The Green Wave had scored 10 second-half points to bring the game within five points before Meansâ€™ first interception, which he returned 13 yards. He also had four tackles, one pass break up and a quarterback hurry. This is the second time in his career that Means has earned C-USA Defensive Player of the Week honors (Nov. 17, 2008).
Making the first start of his UAB career, Ellis passed for 373 yards and a touchdown in a 32-29 double-overtime loss at Tennessee. Ellis nearly orchestrated a huge comeback win for the second week in a row after leading the Blazers back from a 23-0 deficit a week earlier vs. Troy. On Saturday, UAB trailed 23-7 at halftime before storming back to tie the game and extend it to double OT. Ellis has passed for 733 yards and four touchdowns in the past two games. He is the first Blazer QB since Darrell Hackney in 2005 to throw for 300-plus yards in back-to-back games and the first UAB signal-caller ever to throw for more than 350 yards in back-to-back outings.