Miners get first conference win over FAU

Junior+wide+receiver+Jaquan+White+stiff+arms+an+FAU+defender+while+running+towards+the+end+zone.

Andres Martinez

Junior wide receiver Jaquan White stiff arms an FAU defender while running towards the end zone.

Juan Carlos Navarrete, Staff Reporter

The Miners got their first win in conference play tonight against FAU 27-17. The Miners struggled early on, but were able to close out the game in confident form.

“I’m proud of the way the guys fought, they fought extremely hard in all phases, offense defense special teams.” Coach Sean Kugler said.

Miners hosted the Florida Atlantic Owls at the Sun Bowl for their first game in program history. The Miners who were 2-4, and 0-2 in conference were looking for it’s first conference win to turn their season around. FAU also has dug them selves a hole early in the season. They started the year out 1-5 and 1-2 in conference.

In front of a crowd of 22,468 fans the Miners attempted to get back into the conference USA conversation. The Miners struggled early in the season and a win at home is something the team could use to carry over.

In the first game back from injury quarterback Mack Leftwich did the most of his opportunity as the started. Leftwhich sat out the past three games with a concussion and did not show much rust in his return. He had a career game with three touchdowns in the game.

“I just go out there and do what they ask me to do, the first two games they didn’t ask me to throw the ball down the field, they asked me to tonight, so I just go out and do what they ask me to do.” Mack Leftwich said.

In a first half that had 254 total yards for the Miners defense played a big role for the team. Early in the first quarter the Miners held their own when they caused a fumble on their own two -yard line to save a touchdown early in the game.

The Miners were able to put two scoring drives together in the first half that helped Mack Leftwich improve his stats. The freshman quarterback had two touchdowns in the first half one of them netting more than 75 yards.

Late in the first half however, FAU put together a drive of their own that was concluded with a 38 -yard touchdown run by the Owls to go to the half with the lead. UTEP trailed after the first half 17-14.

The Miners got to a quick start in the second half after another Mack Leftwich touchdown pass, this time to Tyler Batson for a 30 yard pass. The Miners used up four minutes and 46 seconds on a nine-play 76-yard drive put the Miners up in the third quarter 21-17.

The Miners defense helped the efforts of the offense in this one. After a good drive by FAU the Miners got an interception that not only gave the Miners the ball back but also saved a touchdown, the interception was on the one- yard line.

The Miners were able to hold FAU in the second half even though they were able to get over 400 yards of offense the difference in the game came in the turn over comparison. More than that, what the Miners could do with turnovers.

What made the difference in the game was also when the Miners got turnovers, while UTEP went 2-2 in the red zone that was not the case for FAU. The owls struggled at the red zone going 2-5, two of those a fumble and an interception.

After two Jay Mattox field goals, the Miners went up 27-17 and just had to hold FAU. In a bizarre coaching call, the Owls kicked a field goal on 1st and 10 and missed with two minutes left, and gave the game away.

“We talked about this being the second half of our season, that we were going to put the work necessary and try to make this fun, and try to let the seniors go out on top and feeling good about them selves, and right now we are 1-0 in the second half of our season, the rest of the season that’s behind us, we’re looking forward.

The Miners are now 3-4 and 1-2 in conference play, and will travel to Southern Miss next week who is 5-3, and 3-1.

 

Juan Carlos Navarrete can be reached at [email protected]