Bethune Cookman Recap

Danny Lopez, Staff Reporter

The Miners (2-0) battled Bethune- Cookman University Saturday, Sept. 4, at the Sun Bowl in the first home game of the season.

In the first half the Miners struggled to get into the endzone after getting good field position of off mistakes. They also faced multiple long yardage situations and were often penalized. The defense, however, had a nose for the ball in the first half causing disruptions. In the second half, Bethune

Cookman and the Miners would exchange touchdowns to the bitter end, but the Miners secured the 38-28 victory. This is the first time since 2005 that the Miners have started 2-0.

“Obviously, we’re really excited to be 2-0. I’m really pleased about that,” said UTEP head coach Dana Dimel in a press conference following the game. “This (Bethune-Cookman) is a team that has had a long time to prepare for us. I thought they did a nice job of scheming and playing so we had to adjust to that. I thought that we did that well offensively in the second half.” On the first series in the first half, after electing to go on defense for UTEP, the Miners stood tall and forced Bethune Cookman into a three and out on the very first drive.

On the Miners first offensive series, they converted a second long after being hit with a holding call but were unable to regain all the yardage to convert a third down, forcing them to punt. However, the Miners were able to recover a muffed punt near the endzone punt but could not punch it in for a touchdown and settled for a field goal to have their first lead of the night 3-0.

Redshirt junior Breon Hayward notched the first sack for the defense that forced Bethune Cookman into a long third down, then into a long fourth down after a failed jet sweep that was caused by the Miners.

The Miners on their second offensive series marched down the field behind redshirt junior running back Ronald Awatt, putting them close to the endzone. The Miners were able to punch it in for a touchdown after initially being stopped, putting their lead at 10-0.

Redshirt sophomore defensive tackle Keenan Stewart would get the second sack for the defense as Bethune Cookman began to drive down the field as the half was ending.

At the end of the first half the Miners lead 10-0.

In the beginning of the second half, the Miners began with the ball on offense, but senior quarterback Gavin Hardison was stripped, sacked and set up Bethune Cookman for first and goal. They would punch it in for a touchdown with a jet sweep. The Wildcats got on the board but still trailed UTEP 10-7.

The Miners answered with a drive of their own that started at around the 30-yard, fueled by freshman running back Willie Eldrige’s downhill running, setting up the offense for a touchdown to pull the Miners lead to 17-7.

Bethune Cookman began marching down the field, starting with a log bomb that would set them up near the goal line. They would convert that into touchdown from a pass that redshirt senior quarterback Shannom Patrick threw to senior tight end Kemari Averett to bring the score to 17-14.”I thought the defense played extremely well throughout most of the game,” Dimel said. “…We kind of let down a bit and gave up a few big plays there in the second half. It kind of tainted the defensive performance a little bit from what we had done. When the game was on the line the defense played extremely well and did a lot of positive things.”UTEP answered that score on a 10-play drive with Hardison throwing a pass to the corner of the endzone to Jacob Cowing for a touchdown to put the Miners lead at 24-14.

Starting junior corner Dennis Barnes, grabbed the Miners first interception of the game on defense that gave the Miners good field position. Hardison would take advantage and throw a touchdown pass to redshirt senior Justin Garrett to increase the lead to 30-14.

Bethune Cookman however would respond with a touchdown pass to Avertte to put them at 31-21. The Miners put up even more points when Awatt darted into the end zone for a touchdown that put the Miners up 38-21.

The Wildcats again scored a touchdown off a hand off that put the score at 38-28, but The Miners ran out the clock on offense to win the game 38-28 for the final score.

Hardison finished the night completing 14-of-22 passes for 183 yards and three touchdowns. Garrett led all receivers with five catches for 45 yards.

Awatt led the running backs by rushing for 129 yards and scoring one touchdown.

The Miners improve to 2-0 and face Boise State University at 7:30 p.m., Sept 10 at Albertson Stadium in Boise, Idaho.