UTEP football unsuccessful against No. 9 Oklahoma

Senior+kicked+Gavin+Baechele+kicks+a+54-yard+field+goal%2C+a+career-high%2C+in+the+13-45+loss+to+the+Oklahoma+Sooners+Sept.+3+in+Norman%2C+Oklahoma.+Photo+courtesy+of+UTEP+Athletics.+

Senior kicked Gavin Baechele kicks a 54-yard field goal, a career-high, in the 13-45 loss to the Oklahoma Sooners Sept. 3 in Norman, Oklahoma. Photo courtesy of UTEP Athletics.

Katrina Villarreal, Staff Reporter

The Miners (0-2, 0-1 Conference USA) were defeated by No. 9 University of Oklahoma Sooners (1-0, 0-0 Big 12 Conference) Saturday, Sept. 3 in Norman, Oklahoma with a score of 13-45.  

UTEP won the toss but elected to defer in order to receive the kickoff in the second half. The Oklahoma offense went straight into it when junior quarterback Dillon Gabriel threw a pass to junior wide receiver Marvin Mims for 42 yards. With 13:43 left in the first quarter, Gabriel rammed through the Miners defense for a touchdown, making the score 0-7.  

The Miners offense got on the field and junior quarterback Gavin Hardison had a few incomplete passes but was able to get a first down after a penalty against Oklahoma for roughing the passer. After the call, UTEP was unable to convert with the Oklahoma defense forcing UTEP to punt. The Oklahoma offense was unstoppable as they were able to score two more touchdowns against the Miners defense, putting Oklahoma on top 0-21. 

With the first quarter coming close to an end, the Miners kept fighting. UTEP was slowed down after a call for a false start but came back after Hardison threw back-to-back passes for a first down to senior running back/wide receiver Reynaldo Flores and sophomore wide receiver Tyrin Smith. Due to a quarterback sack and a fumble in the pocket the first down marker looked out of reach, but after a pass interference call on Oklahoma sophomore linebacker Danny Stutsman, the Miners were able to move the ball down the field for a 49-yard field goal by senior kicker Gavin Baechele. In the start of the second quarter the score was 3-21. 

During the second quarter the Miners defense was resilient forcing the Oklahoma offense to two three and outs. The UTEP offense was back on the field as Hardison threw two passes for a first down to Flores. After another pass interference call on Oklahoma, the Miners were able to score when Hardison gave the ball to senior running back Ronald Awatt for a two-yard touchdown making the score10-21. 

The defense for the Miners was able to force Oklahoma to another three and out, but on the Sooners next drive, Gabriel threw a 28-yard pass to fifth year tight end Brayden Willis for a touchdown. The Miners were able to get the ball again just before halftime but were unable to score, going into halftime with a score of 10-28. 

Hardison completed a career-high of 26 pass completions and threw 244 yards. Ten UTEP players caught passes from Hardison, making it the most in a game under head coach Dana Dimel. Flores led the team with with 7-76 and Smith went 8-7. 

On defense, senior defensive back Justin Prince led the Miners with ten tackles. 

It was a slow second half for UTEP but nearing the end of the third quarter, the offense was able to get into field goal range for Baechle to make a career-high 54-yard field goal early in the fourth quarter with 14:01 left. 

On the next possession, junior quarterback Calvin Brownholtz came in to finish the game going three and out in his first possession. The Miners came back on the field for one last possession, but with 0:33 seconds left in the fourth Brownholtz threw an interception in the endzone. 

“I thought after we handled the first onslaught – the 21-0 run, I thought we played better. From that point on it was 24-13 and we executed and did some things well. Our football team is not going to be in a more hostile environment than this,” Dimel said in a press release. “I said earlier, if we can get through and not get beat up, we’d be a better team after leaving this field. We played a really good football team today. (Oklahoma) executed at a high level and did some good things. But I feel comfortable about our football team.” 

The Miners are set to host New Mexico State University on “Noche Latina” night when the Battle of I-10 returns to El Paso for the first time in four years at 7 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 10 at the Sun Bowl.  

All stats for UTEP courtesy of UTEP Athletics, utepminers.com 

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