To Dale Lloyd: Thanks For Everything, The Rice Owls

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Told you so.

Look, the Miners are who were thought they were. Given their act under Mike Price the past few seasons, no one should have been surprised over their turning the ball over six times and committing a dozen penalties in the Owls' 30-29 victory at HRS. That's what UTEP does, and that's what the Miners will always do until they decide to play football with structure and sense.

The Owls deserve credit for forcing those turnovers and converting them into 17 points. There was a beautiful gesture during Senior Day introductions when, after each of the 13 seniors presented their parents with one rose, the entire group presented Bridget Lloyd, mother of fallen teammate Dale Jr., with a rose each. The Owls followed by showcasing the toughness Lloyd was renowned for, clamping down on UTEP tailback Donald Buckram in the second half before snatching the Miners' lunch money in the fourth quarter. The Owls would not be denied.

How else do you explain Buckram rushing for 115 yards and three touchdowns on 18 carries in the first half and 32 yards and zero touchdowns on 16 carries following the intermission?

"To be honest, it was all attitude," David Bailiff said. "It was just a want-to. That was one of those games (where) ultimately we wanted it more than they did. People were fitting where they needed to fit on the power (formation), and that's the play he had really been hurting people on. And that requires everybody to fit that play perfectly, and that's what we were doing in the second half."

That the Owls still have that desire after nine consecutive losses opened the season speaks volumes of their character. That UTEP couldn't get out of its own way in a game where it outgained Rice 395-227 and muffed a PAT that proved to be the difference does the same.

"I am kind of feeling that we invented ways to lose," Price said, echoing what should have been a familiar refrain. "There were some things that happened this game that haven't happened all year long. We lost three fumbles in 10 games then fumble four times today in the fourth quarter. It wasn't like we weren't getting hit; Rice hit us good.

"They played hard. They delivered when they had to, and we didn't."

So. KAT Travis Bradshaw and Jr. SS Willie Garley led the hit parade, forcing two fumbles apiece. But this performance was about the seniors who went home victorious in their final game at HRS, a group of young men who paid homage to their beloved teammate fittingly.

"You can't put it into words," Owls Sr. LB Terrance Garmon said of his thoughts over the pregame presentation to Mrs. Lloyd. "I could see the joy on her face just to see us as we walked up to her. She still calls and checks up on us and she hasn't really forgotten about us.

"Just to see her around and to see she's doing all right was really a blessing."

Dale Lloyd, Jr., was recognized along with his classmates during the pregame ceremony and posthumously presented the game ball after the win. Here's hoping that he is never forgotten.

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A special day at the Nest for many reasons.

This group of seniors has been through a lot, not the least of which was losing a classmate. If Bailiff deserves much of the blame for this season, he also deserves credit for keeping this team fighting when they could have easily mailed in these last three games.

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