Miner football awaits bowl game

Emily Autumn Velasquez, Sports Editor

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

  • Darius Baptist runs into the stadium on September 25, 2021

  • Zuri Henry celebraters after a win against LA Tech on October 16, 2021

  • Justin Garret blocks a ball from an NMSU wide receiver on Aug. 28, 2021 at Aggie Memorial Stadium.

  • Praise Amaewhule lunges at the NMSU quarterback on Aug. 28, 2021 at Aggie Memorial Stadium.

  • Running back Deion Hankins runs the ball during the game against Louisiana Tech on Oct. 16, 2021.

  • Safety Ty’reke James and others celebrate after a touchdown against Louisiana Tech Oct. 16, 2021.

  • The UTEP football team and Spirit Crew run out of the tunnel at the Sun Bowl on Oct. 2 prior to the homecoming game.

  • Freshman wide receiver Khalil Warfield cheers with fans and players on the sidelines after a touchdown during the football game against Rice University at the Sun Bowl on Nov. 20.

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The UTEP Miners had a historic season that consisted of breaking many records and surpassing the expectations of many. They finished their regular season with a record of 7-4 and went 4-4 in Conference USA.  

UTEP finished .500 or better in their conference for just the fourth time since joining C-USA in 2005. This is also only the seventh time in 53 years that the Miners have managed to record seven wins in a single season. 

The Miners offensive played at a high caliber level which helped them attain a winning record.  

Sophomore quarterback Gavin Hardison finished the season with 2,965 yards passing. If he he throws for at least 35 yards in the bowl game, he will be only the fifth UTEP player to throw for 3,000 yards in a season.  

Hardison passed for a career-high of 366 yards against Rice University, the most by a UTEP player in 12 years. He has also thrown for 17 touchdowns this season, the most by a UTEP quarterback since 2010. 

Sophomore wide receiver Jacob Cowing finished the season with 1,330 yards, putting him into second place on UTEP’s single season receiving list.  

Cowing has 2,571 career receiving yards, which puts him fifth on the UTEP list. Cowing also finished the season with eight 100-yard receiving games, which is the most recorded by a Miner since 1965.  

Sophomore running back Deion Hankins went over 1,000 yards rushing for his career in the UAB game. Hankins has rushed for 1,058 yards as a Miner and has recorded 15 career rushing touchdowns. 

While the Miners were thriving offensively, another big part of their success can be attributed to their defense.  

Senior defensive back Dy’vonne Inyang led the team with three interceptions this season, which is the most by a Miner in a single season since 2011.  

Junior linebacker Breon Hayward led the team in tackles with a total of 98, and junior defensive end Jadrian Taylor led the team with a total of 6.5 sacks.  

The Miners allowed fewer than 350 yards in five of their eight C-USA games and allowed an average of 350.6 yards to their eight C-USA opponents. 

A significant component of special teams is junior kicker Gavin Baechle as he successfully made 17 field goals this season. He is tied for the fourth-most in a season in school history and it is the most by a Miner in a season since 2008. 

One of the most notable games this season was when the UTSA Roadrunners traveled to the Sun Bowl to take on the UTEP Miners. While the Roadrunners ran away with the game, an impressive 31,658 fans attended the game. This was the second largest crowd UTEP has seen for a C-USA game since 2010. 

While the Miners went 2-4 on the road this season, UTEP finished 5-1 at home for only the tenth time in their history. Prior to the UTSA game, UTEP was 4-0 at home for the first time in eleven years and had won six in a row in the Sun Bowl overall. 

UTEP had an impressive turnaround this offseason as they went from a 2019 record of 3-5 to an impressive 7-4 record this season. The players and coaching staff worked vigorously to play to the best of their capabilities and it is their hard work that led them to bowl eligibility for the first time since 2014. 

UTEP awaits its invitation to a bowl game as it prepares to wrap up the season. The Miners are seeking eight wins in a season for only the 11th time in their program’s history. 

All stats used for UTEP provided with the courtesy of UTEP Athletics. 

Emily Autumn Velasquez is the sports editor and can be reached at [email protected]; @emilyautumn20 on Twitter