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Bulldogs pounce on the Miners in away loss

The UTEP Miners lost to the LA Tech Bulldogs Saturday, Oct. 8 in Ruston, Louisiana 41-31, losing their two-game win streak. Photo courtesy of UTEP Athletics.

The UTEP Miners (3-4, Conference USA 1-2) faced the LA Tech Bulldogs (2-3, Conference USA 1-0) Saturday afternoon in Ruston, Louisiana. The Miners entered the match with a two-game win streak that ended after losing to the Bulldogs 41-31. 

First Half 

The Miners started the game slow allowing the Bulldogs to score 14 unanswered points until senior kicker Gavin Baechle booted a 31-yard field goal with 4:00 left in the first quarter. This pushed the score to 14-3. The Miners defense would allow another LA Tech touchdown in the first quarter right as the clock winded down. 

It was not until the second quarter that UTEP managed to find the endzone. With 11:30 left on the clock, the Miners started their drive at the UTEP 32 yardline. The scoring drive consisted of nine plays for 68 yards. Seven of those plays were rushing attempts by senior running back Ronald Awatt and sophomore running back Deion Hankins and two passing attempts, only one of which was completed from junior quarterback Gavin Hardison to junior tight end Zach Fryar. Hankins ran the ball into the endzone with 6:59 left in the half making the score a manageable 20-10. 

LA Tech would push down the field but were stopped shy of a first down after a pre-snap penalty erased a touchdown. This forced the Bulldogs to settle for a 28-yard field goal. 

With the score at 23-10, the Miners sought to close the gap before the half. This effort was stopped as Hardison threw an interception to the LA Tech defense on the second play of the drive. The interception was returned 44 yards for a touchdown expanding the Bulldogs’ lead to 30-10. 

UTEP got the ball back with 2:33 left in the half at the UTEP 25 yardline. The Miners offense pushed the ball 75 yards only for sophomore wide receiver Kelly Akharaiyi to fumble the ball at the goal line. The fumble led to the end of the half. 

Second Half 

In the second half, the Miners continued to struggle as they failed to convert two back-to-back fourth downs. The Bulldogs also failed to score in the third quarter of the match up. 

It was not until the fourth quarter that UTEP managed to score another rushing touchdown. This time, senior wide receiver Reynaldo Flores ran the ball for a three-yard touchdown after the offense stormed down the field 49 yards in seven plays. The score was 30-17 after a 2:14 drive. 

UTEP would continue to inch closer after a 44-yard touchdown pass from Hardison to senior tight end Trent Thompson, which placed the score at 30-24. However, LA Tech answered with their own touchdown drive totaling 87 yards. After a successful two-point conversion from LA Tech, the score was 38-24 with 8:54 left in the fourth quarter. 

LA Tech would score next with a booming 52-yard field goal with 4:28 left in the game. 

With the score at 41-24 late in the game, the Miners managed to score once more after a Hardison completion to sophomore wide receiver Marcus Bellon resulted in a 52-yard touchdown. This would be the last score of the night which left the final score at 41-31 in favor of LA Tech. 

Game Summary 

After finally finding success in the run game against Boise State and Charlotte, the Miners inexplicably relied on the passing game this week. Against LA Tech, the Miners chose to pass the ball 51 times running only 38 times. Hardison had one of his worst performances this season, completing only 23 of 51 passes for 320 yards with two touchdowns, three interceptions and a 37.8 quarterback rating. The Miners are undefeated in games where Hardison attempts less than 30 passes. The Miners are currently 0-4 when Hardison attempts over 30 passes. 

The running game saw a massive setback after only rushing for 181 yards. Awatt, the leading rusher against LA Tech, averaged only 4.4 yards per carry as opposed to last week’s performance where he averaged 6.8 yards per carry. Flores had a decent game posting 73 yards over six receptions averaging 12.2 yards per carry. 

The UTEP defense had an underwhelming showing allowing LA Tech to score four passing touchdowns. With that being said, the offense did not put the defense in a favorable position turning the ball over six times. If anything, the defense kept the team afloat. What sank the team was the offense continually shooting itself in the foot. 

The Miners are now on their bye week after playing for seven weeks. After their break, UTEP will face Florida Atlantic at 2 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 22 at the Sun Bowl Stadium. 

Stats provided by UTEP Athletics and LA Tech Athletics. 

Emmanuel Rivas Valenzuela is the sports editor and can be reached at [email protected]: @rivasemmanuel2 on Instagram. 

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About the Contributor
Emmanuel Rivas Valenzuela
Emmanuel Rivas Valenzuela, Contributor/Writer
Emmanuel Rivas Valenzuela is a contributor for The Prospector. He is a senior majoring in multimedia journalism with minors in political science and Chicano studies. Emmanuel served as sports editor at The Prospector and as a writer with Minero Magazine. Now, Emmanuel is interning at El Paso Matters and is a contributor at The Prospector.
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Bulldogs pounce on the Miners in away loss