Cougs Claw Miners in a Shootout at the Sunbowl
At this point in the season Miner fans are growing tired of hearing about moral victories and close calls. With that in mind I'm going to tell the fans what they want to hear. The Miners should have defeated Houston at the Sun Bowl.
The Miners played a nearly flawless first quarter and led the Cougars 14-0 at the end of the first period. The Miners have been vulnerable to the big play all season, and Houston cut the margin to 14-7 on Charles Sims' 40 yard touchdown scamper midway through the second.
The Miners then gave the game away on their next their next two possessions. Nick Lamaison's interception gave the Cougs a short field, and they took advantage by scoring a quick touchdown. On the very next Miner possession Joe Banyard fumbled the ball to Cougar linebacker Marcus McGraw, who took it 34 yards to paydirt.
The Miners did manage a late second quarter touchdown to tie the game at 21, but the damage was done. Mistakes will happen, but the Miners aren't a good enough team to overcome spotting an explosive team like Houston 14 cheap points. Those points came back to haunt the Miners.
The Miners took a brief 28-24 third quarter lead on this 29 yard touchdown connection from Lamaison to Craig Wenrick.
In almost the blink of an eye Houston answered with 14 unanswered points. Joe Banyard's 68 yard TD run stopped some of the bleeding and gave the Miners a much needed shot of adrenaline late in the third quarter.
Charles Sims seemed to put the final nail in the Miners coffin with this 84 yard touchdown reception that made the score 49-35 Houston with 9:42 left in the game.
The Miners responded with a quick touchdown drive capped off by Leilyon Myers' two yard touchdown run.
The bend but don't break Miner defense came up with a huge three and out. The Miners got the ball back trailing by a touchdown with about three and a half minutes left.
UTEP drove to the Houston 23 yard line, but Lamaison's 4th and 14 pass fell inches short of his intended target, Miner receiver Mike Edwards.
Edwards talked about the drop after the game.
In his patented self-deprecating manner, Mike Price talked about giving away the game.
Price doesn't quite have the beard and hair to be Mr. Kringle, but the point is well taken. The Miners and their fans can no longer be satisfied with hanging tough against good teams, and taking away positives in losses.
After the bye, the Miners face a very manageable schedule. I still see enough potential wins to qualify the Miners for the postseason, but a win over Houston would have gone a long way in building back some goodwill in the city.