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LA Tech 38, UTEP 35 — Miner Defensive Miscues Doom UTEP Again

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Pay no attention to the headline, which was written by some strategy-challenged wannabe. Skip Holtz and the Louisiana Tech Bulldogs are magicians. They have a secret play designed specifically for third and looooong, deep in your own territory. LA Tech faced two of those situations Saturday night against the Miners — 3rd-and-21 inside its own 10-yard line — and they converted both times.

What kind of otherworldly ball scheming is this? What amazing piece of Hook-and-Lateral wizardry did Skip Holtz call?

Get this: the Bulldogs RAN the FOOTBALL! They handed the ball to sophomore RB Kenneth Dixon to just…run it. Both times!

Eat your heart out Boise State, Skip Holtz is the new Master of the Trick Play! Who would ever expect this to work once, much less twice?

Some might point to the blocked field goal in the fourth quarter as the key play that doomed UTEP in the Miners’ 38-35 loss to the Bulldogs on Homecoming Night in the Sun Bowl. Nope, it was Holtz’s strategic brilliance on those two third downs that won the day for LA Tech. How his team is 2-4 and 1-1 in Conference USA, I’ll never know.

To think, some people believe Holtz was just trying to get better field position for a punt. HA! He had the Miners right where he wanted them all along.

Consider this — second quarter, 3-and-21 from the Bulldogs’ 8-yard line. A simple handoff and, BOOM! Dixon bounces it outside for a 30-yard gain. Next play, almost as brilliant. Handoff…not to Dixon, but to Blake Martin, who takes it 62 yards to the house to give LA Tech a 21-7 lead.

Now, jump to the fourth quarter with the Miners threatening Tech’s 31-28 lead. Two huge losses have pinned the Bulldogs at their own 1-yard line to force 3rd-and-21 again. Again they hand off to Dixon; and again, BOOM! The soph busts a 72-yarder to the Miners 27. Four plays later, Dixon goes into the end zone from nine yards out and it’s a 10-point lead.

Dixon had 25 carries for 200 yards. The Bulldogs racked up 353 yards on the ground. Is this a problem for the Miners? Only if you think having to deal with a Skip Holtz coaching master class wasn’t a bigger problem. Me? It’s all Skip.

Shame it overshadowed UTEP’s big performers, like true freshman RB Aaron Jones who had 121 yards rushing or QB Jameill Showers going 18-of-33 for 237 yards.

Life doesn’t get easier for UTEP as the Miners play Tulsa, at Rice and against a little school up the road from there in College Station, TX. You had better believe that, if they know their business, all those other coaches will emulate the Skipper.

The Miners might be powerless to stop it.

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