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Miners fall to LA Tech despite late comeback and become only winless FBS team in the nation

Adrian Broaddus, Editor-In-Chief

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The story for the UTEP football season doesn’t change too much game after game.

The tale goes something like this: start off strong defensively with no offensive help, give up a couple touchdowns in the middle and be out of reach by the end.

On a beautiful Saturday afternoon, the script of the story stayed the same, despite a effort-driven comeback late in the game, and the Miners fell 42-21 to LA Tech.

“We showed some explosiveness for the first time that I’ve seen this season,” interim head coach Mike Price said. “Didn’t see anyone give up… It’s real difficult to stay in the game when you’re down 28-0 at the half. Proud of the guys for that.”

With the loss, the Miners (0-11) are now the only winless FBS team in the country after Georgia Southern won its first game today, 52-0 over South Alabama. At 0-11 they now tie a program worse that dates back to the 1973 team, which finished 0-12.

Despite losing, the Miners put up a season-best 424 yards of total offense—261 through the air and 163 on the ground. Previously, the Miners averaged the FBS worst in total offense, averaging just 214 yards per game.

“We’ve always had it, we’ve just been shooting ourselves in the foot,” said junior wide receiver Eddie Sinegal, who led the Miners with five receptions for 69 yards. “We’re still playing hard and practicing hard for all the seniors.”

UTEP started the game forcing a fumble on a LA Tech reception, but the offensive drive led by quarterback Zack Greenlee was stalled and they turned the ball over on downs. The UTEP defense forced a second fumble on a reception on the very next drive, but they couldn’t do anything offensively to capitalize off the second turnover.

LA Tech quarterback J’Mar Smith connected with Boston Scott on a 23-yard pass and catch touchdown on the next drive to lead 7-0.

After a missed field goal by Jason Filley and a fumble in the red zone by Joshua Fields on two separate drives for UTEP, the Miners gave up a 54-yard LA Tech rushing touchdown by Jaqwis Dancy, extending the Bulldogs’ lead 14-0.

Quarterback Ryan Metz replaced Greenlee on the next drive and threw a 71-yard interception for a touchdown.

The Bulldogs capped off the half with a 10-yard rushing touchdown by Smith and extended their lead 28-0 at the half.

“I’ve never seen a game that was 28-0 that happened so fast,” Price said. “It was 7-0 and then three touchdowns later we’re down 28-0. Being down 28-0 was a difficult situation for the players.”

The Miners held their weight in the second half defensively, forcing five punts in the third quarter. Fields had an 11-yard rushing touchdown to record their first score of the game. Then, Metz found senior wide receiver Tyler Batson on a 83-yard passing touchdown to make the game somewhat in reach, trailing 28-14 going into the fourth quarter.

LA Tech burned a lot of time and orchestrated a 13 play, 75-yard drive that resulted in a nine-yard touchdown pass from Smith to Teddy Veal.

[embedyt] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=al160byZJl4[/embedyt]

Metz on the next drive found Kavika Johnson for a 33-yard passing touchdown, which still had the team in reach, trailing 35-21 with 10 minutes to go in the fourth quarter.

But the defensive stance could not stop LA Tech’s rushing game, and the Bulldogs were able to score a nine-yard run off a Smith scramble. The Bulldogs finished the game with 343 yards of rushing, with 222 coming out of the second half.

“The running backs made great plays, made adjustments and good schemes,” said senior linebacker Alvin Jones, who led the Miners with 15 total tackles. “Every game we’ve been the strong point. But that’s how a team works—when one end goes down, the other has to hold.”

Evidently the defense could not hold on, and LA Tech was able to escape with the win.

The game did see some positives by individual performances, however.

Fields led the rushing core with 140 yards off 23 carries with a touchdown. Also, Metz redeemed his poor half, going from 0-of-2 pass completions with an interception, to 9-of-17 for 202 yards with two touchdowns in the second half.

Nonetheless, the winless record dwelled on Price after the special “Senior Night” game.

“It really does (break my heart),” Price said. “It was more complicated than I thought when I first got here. I don’t think I contributed as much as I thought I would.”

Next up, the Miners will travel on the road to take on UAB for their final game. Price has optimism going into the game to try and get a win.

“It’s a horrible record, but we’re not horrible,” he said.

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About the Contributors
Adrian Broaddus, Sports Editor

Adrian Broaddus is the sports editor for The Prospector. He is a junior multimedia journalism major with a minor in political science.

 

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Miners fall to LA Tech despite late comeback and become only winless FBS team in the nation