Miners win a thrilling victory against UNM Lobos

UTEP+running+back+Ronald+Awatt+runs+the+ball+down+the+field+against+UNM+on+September+25%2C+2021+

Alberto Silva Fernandez

UTEP running back Ronald Awatt runs the ball down the field against UNM on September 25, 2021

Danny Lopez, Staff Reporter

The Miners (3-1,0-0) won in a thrilling match-up against the University of New Mexico (2-2,0-0) Saturday night, Sept. 26, at the Sun Bowl. The Miners were strong on defense but struggled on the offense to move the ball consistently. However, they were able to find their footing in the second half and come out victorious. Junior quarterback Gavin Hardison converted three third and long’s that ended up being key plays of the game. The Miners would go on to win this game 20-13. 

“I can’t be prouder of the effort, especially for what this football team did in the second half. All of the momentum was completely on New Mexico’s side … I thought we did a good job of making adjustments,” UTEP head coach Dana Dimel said in a press conference following the game.  

In the start of the first half, the Miners defense set the tone by forcing a three and out that started with junior defensive end Jadrian Taylor getting a tackle for loss against the Lobos on the first play.  

“Defensively, I thought we played really good to give the offense a chance to really jump out and take a lead,” Coach Dimel said in a post-game press conference. 

The Miners struggled offensively to get anything going as they went three and out on their first possession with no yards gained. 

In the Lobos second possession, senior quarterback Terry Wilson was strip sacked and the ball was recovered by the Miners deep in their own territory. After recovering the ball, the Miners could not move the ball and were called for intentional grounding on Hardison. UTEP would come up empty in that possession and the score remained 0-0. 

UTEP’s defense started to show cracks as the Lobos were able to move the ball down the field. The Lobos’ ball movement was guided by Wilson, where he ended up scoring a rushing touchdown to put UNM up 7-0. 

The Miners could not answer and would go three and out as Hardison missed throws on the outside to receivers that were open.  

After the Miners struggled offensively, the Lobos started the possession in good field position, due to a bad punt from the Miners and were able to move the ball near the endzone. However, the Miners defense held up as they would stop the Lobos on fourth down, giving the ball back to the Miners offense. 

Hardison came out firing on the Miners’ next offensive possession, throwing a completed deep ball to sophomore wide receiver Jacob Cowing deep inside Lobos territory. However, the Miners were unable to take it into the endzone and settled for a field goal to get points on the board. UNM still had the lead with a score of 7-3. 

The Lobos went back on offense but had trouble moving the ball due to the Miners’ stifling run defense. UNM was able to find a little bit of rhythm after a long completed pass from Wilson put them passed midfield. However, the Miners defense was strong and forced UNM to only get away with a field goal. The Lobos maintained the lead 10-3. 

At the near end of the first half, the Miners defense gave up a deep ball that was thrown from Wilson, but the play was negated due to an illegal formation. That penalty put the Lobos out of rhythm on offense and kept them from scoring with the help of the Miners’ stout run defense. 

UTEP turned the ball over before half time that set up the Lobos near midfield. The Lobos moved the ball down the field and because of penalties by the Miners defense, resulted in a field goal for the Lobos. UNM would extend their lead to 13-3 to end the half. 

UNM led 13-3 at the end of the half. 

To start the second half of the game, the Miners began on offense but would struggle after Hardison took a big sack. However, Hardison completed a long ball to Cowing to convert a third and long. The offense for the Miners would score on that drive on a wildcat play, by redshirt freshman running back Deion Hankins to close the gap 10-13 with the Miners still trailing. 

The Miners on defense forced the Lobos into a quick three and out by stuffing the run and bringing the heat to Wilson, forcing him to throw the ball away. 

On offense, the Miners struck quick on offense with Hardison throwing the ball to sophomore wide receiver Jacob Cowing for a 55-yard touchdown that would make the Miners go in front 17-13. 

Defensively, senior cornerback Dy’Vonne Inyang managed an interception for the first turnover on defense. However, on offense, the Miners came up empty after a big turnover from the defense. 

UTEP again stood tall as Taylor made another big play stuffing Wilson short of the first down line as the Lobos began moving the ball. With the offense getting back the ball, Hardison converted another third and long but could not move the ball effectively and were forced to punt. 

At the 6:50 mark, the Miners defense stopped another quarterback draw by Wilson, forcing the Lobos to punt. Offensively, UTEP went on a quick strike again with Hardison throwing another long ball to redshirt senior wide receiver Justin Garrett that put UTEP in Lobo territory. UTEP would not be able to get the ball into the endzone and ended up kicking a field goal to extend the Miners lead 20-13. 

Near the end of the game, the Miners’ pass rush was able to get Wilson out of the pocket many times in that possession. The rush would be enough to make him throw an incompletion on fourth down to seal a 20-13 victory for the Miners. 

“I felt like I was getting close, by applying pressure in the game, number two is a good runner and thrower, we have to get pressure,” redshirt sophomore defensive end Praise Amaewhule said in a post-game press conference. 

Hardison finished the night completing 15-of-29 passes for 293 yards, one touchdown and one interception. Cowing led the receivers with 174 yards and one touchdown.  

On defense, Amawhule finished the game with one sack and seven pressures. Taylor had an impactful night as he finished the game with three tackles and one assist. Inyang would have the only interception of the game and finished with two tackles. 

The Miners improved to 3-1 and host Old Dominion University at 7 p.m., Oct. 3 at Sun Bowl Stadium for their homecoming game. Students can get free tickets to football games with a Miner Gold Card. Visit studenttickets.utep.edu for more information.