Miners dominate Southern Miss 35-14


Michaela Roman

Senior defensive back Nick Gathrite celebrates in the end zone after celebrating a fumble recovery touchdown.

The UTEP football team won their third game in a row against Southern Mississippi 35-14. The Miners won in a resounding win at home where they forced 5 turnovers and are just one win away from bowl eligibility.

After a fumble on their first drive the Miners bounced back and put together a nine-play 87-yard touchdown drive to start the game 7-0 over the Golden Eagles.

After the first scoring drive the Miners and Eagles both hit a wall in the first quarter, as neither team managed to get a drive together to generate points on the board.

Controversy took over the game in the second quarter after a personal foul on defensive back Wesley Miller had him ejected for what was as illegal hit on Golden Eagles receiver D.J. Thompson. The play consisted of a strong hit to the chest that created an incompletion for the Golden Eagles, after several minutes of the referees looking the play over it was reversed.

Penalties and slow plays set the pace of the second quarter. In a very forgettable second quarter that had the Miners and Eagles punt 11 times in the quarter.
In a half that had more penalties and punts than third down conversions the Miners still managed to go to the locker room up on the scoreboard 7-0.

Though the Miners had a slow first half in the game they managed to keep the scoreboard at zero against Southern Mississippi. Shutting out a team in the first time for two weeks is a great trend for any team. The defense kept head coach Sean Kugler proud of his team’s effort.

“I thought the defense was very solid in the first half,” Kugler said. “The offense had a very efficient drive I attribute our stalls on offense to Southern Miss’s defense, the guys gutted out what they needed to do to win, they played with energy, and they played as a team.”

The second half started a lot faster than the first. The Golden eagles received the ball and managed to put points on the board after a six-play 75-yard drive. The Golden Eagles drove down the field with a 55 yard pass completion for a touchdown to level the game at seven a piece.

The Miners did not take long to find their way to the end zone and regain the lead, as it was Autrey Golden who returned the 98-yard kick by Southern Mississippi to put the Miners 14-7.

“Football is a fast game and I blinked and it happened fast. I just needed to make one guy miss and the other 10 were blocked,” Golden said.

The Miners recovered a fumble on the Golden Eagles 12-yard line after a bad exchange between the center and quarterback resulted in a Golden Eagle turn over. The Miners took advantage of the turn over as they scored a touchdown on a short 12-yard drive. It was Jameill Showers with the 10-yard quarterback draw that put the Miners up 21-7 in the game.

The second half quickly turned into a quick turnover battle. After the Miners had an interception on Golden Eagles territory they went three and out and prepared to attempt a field goal from 34-yards out. The field goal was blocked and returned for 78 yards by the Golden Eagles, the game was now 21-14.

The Miners had their third take away of the game early in the fourth quarter. It was Linebacker Brown who caught a bouncing pick six. The Miners built a 28-14 lead and coast the rest of the way.

The turnovers continued in the fourth quarter as Miners scored off another turnover by the Eagles. The 59 –yard fumble return put the Miners 35-14.

The Miners not only won the game resoundingly the won the turn over battle. Turnovers in football often reflect the scoreboard more than another stat and the Miners won it 5-2. Turnovers are something Coach Kugler emphasized after the game. It is also something that has been doing everyday in practice.

“The defense was outstanding we talk about creating turnovers, when you can create turnovers and turn them into points that’s special” Kugler said.

With this win over a Conference USA Southern Mississippi the Miners improve to 5-3 and 3-1 in conference play. The Miners find them selves a win away from bowl eligibility and will look to improve next week on the road after this 35-14 win.

Juan Carlos Navarrete may be reached at [email protected]