UTEP football loses a fifth straight game: Penalties sink Miners


Priscilla Gomez

File Photo

Michael Cuviello, Sports Editor

The UTEP Miners’ first drive was an indication that things were not going to go well versus the Florida International University (FIU) Panthers Saturday night. On the third play of the game, senior quarterback Brandon Jones threw an interception in Miner territory, which resulted in a Panther field goal.  

That interception would be the only turnover of the entire game for either team, but the Miners would make up for that in spades with their most penalized output of the season. The Miners finished with the most penalty yards of the Dana Dimel era with 106 yards.  

The Miners overall played well defensively for a little over three quarters bottling up the very potent Panther running game, until running back Anthony Jones took a handoff 65 yards downfield, setting up a final FIU touchdown to close the game. Even with that play, the Miners’ offense had almost as many yards as the Panthers.   

Briefly having a 7-3 lead in the first quarter, the Miners, even in good situations, could not avoid costly penalties. Catching a break after a Panther penalty, the Miners had FIU at first and 25 yards to go for a touchdown, quickly erasing it with a face mask penalty by senior corner Ykili Ross.  

Right after FIU proceeded to score a touchdown, the Miners then committed an illegal block, setting them back 44 yards to their own 10. The next play resulted in a safety for the Miners putting them behind 12-7 early in the second quarter of the game. Two Panther field goals had the Miners trailing by 11 at halftime.  

“Eliminating penalties, unforced errors, I can’t say that enough,” coach Dana Dimel said.” You take the bad snaps and the penalties out of the ball game, we win.”  

The first possession of the second half for the Miners emphasized how ineffective the offense has been this season. In a series that ate up more than six minutes of possession time, the Miners gained a net 9 yards on nine plays. Of those nine plays, three were penalties and none were passes. The Miners went 43 minutes between the team’s first touchdown and the very next score with seven minutes left in the game.  

As reliable as the defense was overall for the Miners, it did not register a single sack or a turnover for the game, which has been a recurring theme the whole season. For the season the defense has six sacks, averaging one a game. Taking out the three sacks UTEP had in the opener, it has only three in five games and no games with multiple sacks. The defense only has five turnovers total, while the UTEP offense’s most positive statistic is its lack of turnovers with six.  

Senior quarterback Kai Locksley generated most of the offense for the Miners with 196 yards of total offense.  Locksley’s best play was a well-timed pass to freshman receiver Jacob Cowing for a 34-yard touchdown late in the game.   

The Miners’ defense and offense suffer the most on third down efficiency as both rank among the worst in the NCAA. The offense only makes 28 percent of its third-down conversions, and the defense gives up more than 50 percent of third-down conversions to opponents.  

New week same result as UTEP fell 32-17 to FIU in Miami. The team has no offensive identity as it rotates between two quarterbacks, which correlate to having no starting quarterback.   

Up next for UTEP is Louisiana Tech 6 p.m. Oct. 26. 

Michael Cuviello may be reached at [email protected]