UTEP survives for a bowl game

Junior+running+back+Aaron+Jones+celebrates+after+a+touchdown.+

Michaela Román

Junior running back Aaron Jones celebrates after a touchdown.

Juan Carlos Navarrete, Staff Reporter

Sophomore running back Aaron Jones stiff arms Middle Tennessee into the endzone.
Michaela Román
Sophomore running back Aaron Jones stiff arms Middle Tennessee into the endzone.

The UTEP Miners closed their 2014 season at home against Middle Tennessee. The Miners who are 6-5 are playing another 6-5-conference team with Middle Tennessee. Middle Tennessee and UTEP are bowl eligible but both face the possibility of missing out on a bowl with a loss this week.

The Miners got off to a slow start against Middle Tennessee. They gave up a blocked punt the first drive of the game that led to a middle Tennessee touchdown, 7-0 Middle Tennessee.

UTEP had an early response to Middle Tennessee’s touchdown. The Miners went down the field 59 yards to bring the score to 7-3 after a 34-yard field goal.

The Miners continued to drive their way down the field early in the game. A 76-yard drive that only went three plays resulted in a 10-7 score for UTEP. The miners scored off a 72-yard pass.

UTEP could not stop the offense from Middle Tennessee late in the second quarter. Middle Tennessee went down the field on a 50-yard drive that led to a yard touchdown run. The Miners trailed 14-10 before half time and would go into half time with a better stat sheet than Middle Tennessee but with loosing by four.

The Miners were able to score off Middle Tennesee mistakes in the second half. Middle Tennessee drove the ball down field but failed to score on a field goal kick. The Miners scored off that miss with a drive that spanned 80 yards when a rushing touchdown from seven yards away put them 17-14.

The Blue Raiders did not take long to respond to UTEP’s offensive drive. The Blue Raiders put together a drive that spanned nine-plays and 75 yards. The Blue Raiders scored off a third down three-yard run that put the score 21-17.

The game quickly turned into a shoot out during the fourth quarter. The Miners had a response the Blue Raiders drive; the Miners drove 75 yards in 12 plays to score a running touchdown from five yards away which made it 24-21.

The game, as they usually are in the Sun Bowl, became a must see for all. Middle Tennessee was driving the ball to UTEP’s red area with less than two minutes to go in the game. Jemill Earving forced a tipped pass that he later intercepted to turn the ball over to the Miners.

“We needed a stop on defense, they were moving the ball and we needed a turn over,” Said Coach Kugler.

“I wasn’t supposed to tip the ball, I wasn’t supposed to jump at the ball, I was supposed to tackle the quarterback but I just went for the ball instead,” Said Earving after making an interception to stop the offense. “The play happened so quickly I didn’t even know if I caught the ball.” Said Earving.

The Miners could not score off that mistake and the best they could do was run the clock with Middle Tennessee only having two timeouts. After a short punt, UTEP was forced to stand up on defense with only 20 seconds left. After an illegal forward pass the game was supposed to be over, after an official review time was put back on the clock for one more play.

“They were able to win this game because they are winners, they played very hard and that shows in these games.” Said coach Kugler.

UTEP had one more play to defend in order to go to a bowl game. After several laterals and the clock running out, UTEP had won the game, but the referees did not see it that way. After an official review, they concluded there was an incomplete pass and time left on the clock. For one last time UTEP had to stand up and play, and they did. An incomplete pass resulted in the end of the game. UTEP came away with the victory 21-24.