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Elimimian picks on Palmer
EL PASO, Texas » Texas-El Paso sophomore quarterback Jordan Palmer wasn't all that happy about his breakout performance last night that included career highs of 28 completions, 317 yards and five touchdowns in the Miners' 51-20 victory over Hawaii at the Sun Bowl.
"I'm more upset about the (four) interceptions than I'm happy about the touchdowns," Palmer said. "But our defense was huge. They took so much pressure off me."
Hawaii cornerback Abraham Elimimian was Palmer's nemesis. He grabbed three of the interceptions, returning one for a 20-yard touchdown. Elimimian now has five interceptions for the year and 12 in his UH career. He needs one more to tie former teammate Kelvin Millhouse and Keoni Jardine for the school record.
Elimimian, who left the game with a hamstring strain in the third quarter, shrugged when it was pointed out that all his interceptions came in losses this season.
"That's football. I try to do everything I can," said Elimimian, who volunteered to play gunner on punt coverage after Jahmal Fenner's 46-yard return set up UTEP's second touchdown. Elimimian made an outstanding play to tackle Fenner for a 1-yard loss on a later punt.
"I told them (coach June Jones and special teams coordinator Mouse Davis) I'm gonna go in there, and they said OK," Elimimian said.
Palmer is the brother of former USC quarterback Carson Palmer, who won the 2002 Heisman Trophy.
Last night's loss was UH's third-most-lopsided by point difference since Jones became the Warriors' coach in 1999. The second was when UTEP beat UH 39-7 here in 2000. The worst was USC's 62-7 pasting of Hawaii in Jones' first game, as Carson Palmer completed 14 of 16 passes for 167 yards and a touchdown and rushed for a score.
Jordan Palmer isn't at his brother's level yet, but he seemed to improve as last night's game went along.
"Whenever you have a little success completing balls, you get a little more confident as you go," Jones said.
It should also be noted that Palmer played against a UH defense that got weaker as the game went along due to injuries to safety Lono Manners and Elimimian.
He did go after Elimimian while he was in the game, though.
"His brother plays in the NFL and there were a lot of scouts here, so I think he wanted to impress them by throwing my way," Elimimian said. "It's a good feeling that he won't back down. The past three games I wasn't getting anything thrown my way."
Action Jackson: UTEP running back Howard Jackson's 138 yards moved him into second place on UTEP's all-time rushing list with 2,911 yards, and also second in 100-yard rushing games, with 12.
"We went in here trying to take away the run and we had to do that," Jones said. "They made some plays on some passes and one-on-one situations. They did what they had to do."
Rough night for Owens: Hawaii receiver/returner Chad Owens had a sub-par game with five catches for 33 yards and two punt returns for minus -14 yards and two fumbles.
"No excuses. My job is to catch the ball and make plays, and I didn't do it," said Owens, who went into the game as the nation's leader in receptions per game and had returned punts for touchdowns in the previous two games.
Short yardage: Scouts from the Cleveland Browns, Houston Texans, Buffalo Bills, Detroit Lions and Tennessee Titans attended the game. ... UTEP had scored 28 points total in its losses to UH, dating back to 2001, when the Warriors pounded the Miners 66-7 at Aloha Stadium. ... Hawaii freshman Jason Ferguson's first career catch was a 44-yarder from Chang in which he got behind the UTEP defense. ... There was successful precedent for the Chad Kapanui-to-Kilinahe Noa fake punt pass play that failed last night. Kapanui hit Noa for a 70-yard gain against UTEP in 2002, setting up Shawn Withy-Allen's 3-yard TD run. UH won the game 31-6.
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