Miners face a heartbreaking loss to No. 16 UTSA


Alberto Silva Fernandez

Defensive Back Darius Baptist chest bumps in the air with defensive end Quincy Montgomery on Nov. 6, 2021, at the Sun Bowl

Katrina Villarreal, Contributor

The UTEP Miners (6-3, 3-2 C-USA) have now lost back-to-back games after a major loss to the undefeated No. 16 University of Texas at San Antonio Roadrunners (9-0, 5-0 C-USA) on Saturday, Nov. 6 at the Sun Bowl Stadium, 23-44. This loss broke the Miners’ six game winning streak at the Sun Bowl Stadium.  

The Miners won the toss and elected to defer which put the Miners defense straight to work. The Miners’ run defense was put to the test in the second play of the first quarter as UTSA senior quarterback Frank Harris handed the ball to junior running back Sincere McCormick, which resulted in a 75-yard touchdown with 14:43 left in the first quarter.  

The Miners offense got off to a slow start, as the UTSA defense forced UTEP to have a three and out in their first two offensive drives. On their next drive, the Miners offense was finally able to answer with a 35-yard touchdown pass from sophomore quarterback Gavin Hardison to sophomore wide receiver Tyrin Smith bringing the score to 6-13 after a missed extra point. 

With 0:14 seconds left in the second quarter, Hardison ran for a first down and later completed a pass to sophomore wide receiver Jacob Cowing, who broke several tackles for another first down. With four seconds left in the quarter, junior kicker Gavin Baechle made a career-long 50-yard field goal, bringing the score to 9-30. 

Hardison finished with 247 yards and tied his career-high of three touchdowns; he went over 2,000 yards passing for the season. Sophomore wide receiver Jacob Cowing recorded his 11th 100-yard game of his college career with five receptions for 112 yards. Sophomore wide receiver Tyrin Smith recorded his first game with multiple touchdown receptions. The Miners offense finished with 376 yards.  

Without two of their starters, senior defensive back Dy’vonne Inyang and junior defensive back Justin Prince, the Miners defense struggled to stop the Roadrunners offense, allowing the offense to put up 562 yards. After allowing a 75-yard touchdown from UTSA running back Sincere McCormick, the Miners defense was able to hold the UTSA offense to two field goals in their next two possessions in the first quarter. 

Sophomore safety Tyson Wilson and junior linebacker Tyrice Knight each recorded a total of 10 tackles, which was a career-high for Wilson. Sophomore cornerback Torey Richardson recorded a career-high of three pass breakups. 

With 0:28 to go in the third quarter, Hardison threw a 42-yard pass resulting in a touchdown, bringing the score to 16-37. However, UTSA showed no signs of stopping as they answered with a touchdown of their own bringing the score to 16-44. 

In the fourth quarter the Miners’ offense continued fighting. With 6:42 to go, the Miners converted on fourth and one, resulting in a first down and a seven-yard touchdown pass to senior wide receiver Justin Garrett bringing the score to 23-44. However, that was not enough, as UTSA continued to move the ball down the field and elected to take a knee with 2:04 to go. 

The final score was 23-44. 

“Obviously, I tip my hat to UTSA tonight. They played a really good game and were flawless in their execution,” UTEP Head Coach Dana Dimel said in a post-game interview. “They brought their ‘A’ game. I thought we got a little bit shocked when they busted that 75-yard run going up the middle of our defense. That hasn’t happened very much. It stung us a little bit.” 

The Miners’ next matchup is against North Texas (3-6, 2-3 C-USA) in Denton, Texas at 2 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 13. All stats for UTSA found on UTSA Athletics official website, goutsa.com. 

All stats and quotes for UTEP found on UTEP Athletics official website, utepminers.com. 

Katrina Villarreal is a contributor and may be reached at [email protected]