MinerTalk & Photos from UTEP’s 20-13 Close Win Against NMSU
It wasn't pretty, but the Miners got their first win of the season in a 20-13 tight win over NM State in a bizarre edition of the Battle of I-10.
Check out MinerTalk presented by the Oscar Arrieta Agency, with me, Sal Montes and Jason Craig, produced by Angel Munoz. Also, check out the full photo gallery thanks to Jorge Salgado below:
The Miners shut out the Aggies in the first half, out-gaining the Aggies 214-78 in total yards. The defense held NM State to just two first downs, 0-for-4 on third down plays and held the Aggies to just 3.7 yards per play. They forced a pair of turnovers in the first half—linebacker Tyrice Knight catching a tipped Gavin Frakes interception, and linebacker James Neal falling on a fumble.
UTEP's offense wasn't exactly outstanding in the first half, however. They led 3-0 in the first quarter and couldn't capitalize on their second possession's red zone drive, resulting in a fumble of their own. It wasn't until the second quarter when the Miners offense started humming, as Hardison kept a balanced approach with running back Ronald Awatt. Hardison went 8-for-16 through the air in the first half for 112 yards and a touchdown. Awatt totaled 17 carries for 96 yards and a touchdown.
The second half felt nightmarish for UTEP. NMSU flipped some momentum by capitalizing on a Miner muffed punt return and scored off a 14-yard Diego Pavia run. Kicker Gavin Baechle nailed a 46-yard field goal to lead 20-6.
However, UTEP punted on three of their four offensive possessions in the second half, including a trio of 3-and-outs. The offense had the ball for just over seven minutes in the second half, leaving the defense worn out by the end. NMSU scored early in the fourth quarter on a long, 16-play, 75-yard drive that lasted nearly 10 minutes, capped off by a 11-yard Pavia rushing score. The Aggies had the ball in the closing minutes of the game, but UTEP defensive tackle Tavita Tafuna stripped Pavia, while linebacker Cal Wallerstedt recovered the fumble to secure the win.
Up next: UTEP will travel to Albuquerque to face New Mexico (1-1) next Saturday, Sept. 17. The game will have a 6 p.m. kickoff and the broadcast can be heard on KLAQ (95.5 FM).