HATTIESBURG — UTEP clipped Southern Miss, 34-33, tonight at M.M. Roberts Stadium as USM's two-point conversion attempt failed with 2:44 remaining in the game.
The Golden Eagles fall to 0-11 overall and end their home schedule on senior day with an 0-6 record. USM went 6-0 at home in 2011.
With Arsenio Favor leading the way at quarterback, the Golden Eagles gave their best effort since they fell 38-31 in double overtime at UCF on Oct. 13.
"I was really proud of the effort," USM coach Ellis Johnson said. "I thought the kids played hard. They came back several times after tough things and bounced back. I think it was the game we played the hardest other than UCF, trying to overcome adversity.
"There were some positives in it, but in the end, it's another time of frustration for them and I really feel for them."
Favor completed 16 of 22 passes for 374 yards and two touchdowns with one interception. It was the fifth-largest passing yardage total in school history and he became the first USM quarterback to throw for over 200 yards this season.
Favor suffered a knee injury at the start of spring and didn't return to practice until the first week of October. Tonight, he put together by far the best performance by a USM quarterback this season.
"I have a whole lot of belief in my arm," Favor said. "People tend to think I'm a run first guy. As I'm getting older, it's going straight to the passing game. I have a lot of faith in my arm. I know the coaches believe in my throwing ability."
It wasn't a perfect night for the receiving corps, but the group combined with Favor to produce six plays of 30 yards or more.
Favor defended a group of receivers that's faced its share of criticism this season.
"There were a lot more plays that we left out there, but it's a great group of receivers," Favor said. "People don't realize how hard they work. Them boys work hard. People doubt them, say they can't catch or don't run the right routes. I'd be lying if I said that."
USM had an announced crowd of 23,757, but the actual attendance appeared to be closer to 11,000.
USM senior receiver Quentin Pierce had a big night in his final game at Roberts Stadium, catching two passes for 125 yards, including an 81-yard touchdown.
Pierce and his teammates each answered questions tonight on what went wrong this season.
"I think it's a chemistry," Pierce said. "We've struggled with that. Just on the offensive side, I can speak on that. We struggled feeling each other out, knowing which plays are going to hit right and which aren't. Every now and then, it's one guy messing up and then we have a couple of good drives and another guy messes up. It's always 'My fault, my fault.' You can't do that when you're trying to execute and play hard. Chemistry, that's the biggest thing."