UTEP Defense Shines Again In Third Consecutive C-USA Win
A funny thing happened to the UTEP football team last week. Their defense set program records with a 34-0 shutout road win against UTSA. The Miners needed an encore performance tonight at the Sun Bowl and that is exactly what they received. UTEP's defense forced five consecutive Southern Miss turnovers and scored two touchdowns in a 35-14 victory over the Golden Eagles. The win now improves the Miners to 5-3 overall and 3-1 in C-USA play.
The Miners' offense struggled to gain yardage all game long, and only finished with 234 yards of total offense. However, they benefited from two big fourth quarter plays; a 51-yard interception return for a touchdown and 59-yard fumble return for a score. Earlier in the third quarter, Autrey Golden returned a kickoff 98 yards for a touchdown after Southern Miss tied the game at 7.
Scott Stoker's defense won the game for the Miners tonight. They gave up 402 total yards of offense, but made big play after big play in the second half. They also gave up only one touchdown, since the Golden Eagles scored on a 78 yard blocked field goal returned for a score. The most exciting thing about Miner football is that they are just one win shy of being bowl eligible. With four games left in the season, there is an strong chance that UTEP wins a total of seven or eight regular season games.
That is all the more reason why the team deserved more fans at the Sun Bowl tonight. The announced attendance of 24,653 fans is an absolute disgrace for a team that is playing its best football in nine years. What is even more confusing is that the crowd tonight was even smaller than UTEP's last home game three weeks ago. The Miners won that game and followed it up with a road shutout two weeks later. Now riding a three game winning streak, it would be nice to see the rest of El Paso's fair weather football fans jump back on the UTEP bandwagon for their final two home games later this month.