El Paso, TX (Sports Network) - Latavius Murray tallied 117 yards and a touchdown on 23 carries as the UCF Knights held off the Miners to escape the Sun Bowl with a 31-24 victory over Texas-El Paso in a Conference USA battle.
Blake Bortles played well under center for UCF (8-2, 6-0 C-USA), completing 16- of-27 passes for 214 yards and a touchdown. Bortles also rushed for 39 yards and two scores. Rannell Hall made three catches for 72 yards while Jeff Godfrey reeled in three receptions for 67 yards and a touchdown. The Knights' defensive unit forced four total turnovers. Ray Shipman anchored the team with 14 total tackles.
The Miners played tough with freshman Blaire Sullivan managing the offense. The rookie went 5-of-11 for 79 yards with an interception, but made an impact by rushing for 74 yards and a touchdown on 23 carries. Nathan Jeffery racked up 175 yards and two scores on 23 carries while Jordan Leslie made two catches for 51 yards. Josh Fely and Shane Huhn made 10 tackles each for UTEP's defense.
UCF opened up scoring just under four minutes after kickoff as Bortles completed a 46-yard touchdown pass to Godfrey.
The Miners answered with seven minutes left in the first quarter with an eight- play, 75-yard drive which Jeffery finished off with a two-yard run into the end zone.
UTEP took its only lead of the game with 12:48 to play before halftime as Steven Valadez connected on a 20-yard field goal. Valadez's kick put the Minters up 10-7 until the Knights stormed back in the final minute of the half.
Bortles led UCF 86 yards down the field before he rushed it in from two yards out with just 28 seconds left before the intermission. After a fumble returned the ball to the Knights on the ensuing kickoff, Shawn Moffitt gave UCF a 17-10 advantage heading into halftime by chipping in a 30-yard field goal.
After a scoreless third frame, Bortles scored in the first minute of the final quarter on a 10-yard touchdown run.
UTEP rallied back with a pair of touchdown runs. First Sullivan rushed two yards to the outside into the end zone at the 8:47 mark of the period. Jeffery then dashed 69 yards across the goal line on the Miners' next play from scrimmage to tie the score, 24-24.
UCF went back to its work horse and Murray broke away for a 47-yard touchdown run to take back the lead. The Knights then forced the Miners into a turnover on downs which allowed them to run out the clock and stay unbeaten in league action.
UCF now needs one more win to guarantee itself a spot in this season's Conference USA Championship game.