Longhorns stampede Miners 59-3

Michael Cuviello, Sports Editor

The UTEP Miners were dominated in all facets of football, Saturday as the team traveled to Austin to play the Power Five opponent, Texas Longhorns 59-3 in a game that was a blowout from the very start. 

It took the Longhorns exactly 19 seconds to put its first points on the board against the Miners with a 78-yard touchdown from senior quarterback Sam Ehlinger to sophomore Joshua Moore on the first offensive play of the game.  

UTEP’s first offensive play was a false start that put itself in hole on its very first drive. The penalty would come back to haunt the Miners as the team would come up one yard short of a first down on a pass from sophomore quarterback Gavin Hardison to senior receiver Walter Dawn Jrthat totaled 14 yards. This play was followed by a failed third down conversion for short yardage that forced a punt. 

Texas scored a touchdown on its first three possessions to jump out to a 21 point lead. A 43-yard field goal that went wide right just before the end of the quarter was the first time that UTEP’s defense escaped without the Longhorns getting on the scoreboard on a drive in the first half. The Longhorns scored on seven of its first eight possessions as Texas stretched out a 42 point lead. 

Following an interception by Hardison that set up a Texas touchdown deep in UTEP territory the Miners made its first trip to the Longhorns side of the field with a 17-yard pass to sophomore Jacob Cowing. Three plays later the UTEP drive stalled at the Texas 32-yard line that ended with a missed 49-yard field goal from senior Gavin Baechle. 

On its first successful drive of the game, UETP finished off an 11 play 46 yard drive with a successful 47- yard field goal, which would end up being its only points of the game. The Miners would go into the locker room down by 42 points at halftime with no answer for the Texas offense. 

To begin the third quarter the Miners followed up a face mask penalty on a sack of Hardison with its deepest drive of the game as UTEP drove all the way to the Texas 20 yard line before turning the ball over on downs on an incomplete pass to Dawn from Hardison. 

It took UTEP until the first drive of the second half to force Texas to punt the ball for its first of two punts on the day. This series would be the last time Ehlinger would see the field for the Longhorns as he left the game passing for five touchdowns on 25 of 33 passing with 426 yards for the day. The Miners still trailed 45-3 as Texas brought in its backup quarterback sophomore Casey Thompson who would go on to add two more touchdowns. 

Following one more drive from Hardison, the Miners would insert redshirt sophomore Calvin Brownholtz at quarterback. Hardison left the game 12 of 27 passing for 141 yards an interception. By this point Texas was steadily getting its backups playing time with a large lead. 

From start to finish the Longhorns controlled the game as Texas finished with 689 total yards averaging 9.3 yards per offensive play on the day. While Texas has a huge talent disparity, the Miners truly struggled in fundamentals defensively with poor tackling that kept adding yards to the Longhorn offense. The Miner’s secondary as whole was badly overmatched being beat repeatedly in coverage. The Longhorns showed it could pass at will on the Miner defense as it finished the game 481 yards passing. 

Offensively the Miners had no success in the running game averaging just over a yard per attempt. Freshman running back Deion Hankins did have some limited success as he gained 34 yards on 11 carries following the previous week’s 113 yard rushing performance versus Stephen F. Austin. 

The Miners positives for the game were holding the Texas backups to two touchdowns once the Longhorns pulled its starting quarterback and limiting turnovers to one interception for the game. 

This game was a chance for UTEP to measure itself against a top 20 ranked Power Five team with a result that was far from unexpected. Valuable experience was gained versus the most talented team that UTEP has played in the Dana Dimel era. Unfortunately, the game did expose the overall talent deficiency of UTEP when playing that level of a team. 

The Miners (1-1) return home to play Football Championship Subdivision opponent Abilene Christian 7 p.m. Saturday Sept. 19 at the Sun Bowl. 

Michael Cuviello may be reached at [email protected]