UTEP 20 – New Mexico 13: Miners Rally in 2nd Half to Top Lobos
In a tale of two halves, UTEP (3-1) rallied back in the second half from a 13-3 deficit and upended New Mexico 20-13 to wrap up non-conference play on Saturday at the Sun Bowl.
In front of 15,069 fans in a rainy environment, the Miners were able to shake off a sluggish first half by scoring on back-to-back drives in the second half to win the contest.
Credit the defense for pitching a complete shutout in the second half to put the Miners in a perfect situation to rally back in this game. They allowed 217 yards on offense for the Lobos in the first half, but only allowed 71 in the second half.
Pass rusher Praise Amaewhule led the defensive line with seven quarterback hurries, one strip sack forced fumble, two pass breakups, 1.5 tackles for loss and four tackles.
After putting up only 100 yards of total offense in the first half, the Miner offense responded with a whopping 244 in the second.
Quarterback Gavin Hardison started the game rocky, throwing a costly interception in the first half. He settled in the second and finished the day 15-of-29 with one touchdown and one interception.
Their dynamic receiver duo in Jacob Cowing (seven catches, 174 yards, one touchdown) and Justin Garrett (four catches, 105 yards) dazzled on Saturday.
“I didn’t have to say much at halftime," Dimel said. "You heard a bunch of angry guys with positive leadership. We couldn’t have choreographed a better finish.”
UTEP started the first half in a sluggish way. The Miners forced a turnover on the second UNM possession thanks to a Praise Amaewhule strip sack. But they couldn't get points off the turnover due to an intentional grounding penalty. After UTEP kicker Gavin Baechle missed a 50 yarder, the Lobos marched down the field 67 yards on eight plays and capped off the drive with a 12-yard rushing score by Wilson.
It wasn't until the second quarter when UTEP finally got on the board, largely because of a 57-yard pass from Hardison to Jacob Cowing. Baechle nailed a 33-yard field goal after the drive stalled inside the red zone.
New Mexico was able to tack on a pair of field goals before the end of the first half. Their first field goal came after a couple of nice pass plays by Wilson in the middle of the second quarter. They intercepted Hardison near the end of the first half, which led to a 31-yard field goal.
The Miners accumulated just 100 total yards of offense in the first half, including only three first downs and just 17 rushing yards.
In the second half, UTEP completely flipped the script. They started off with a long touchdown drive capped off by a four-yard rushing touchdown by Deion Hankins. This is now the fifth consecutive time Hankins scores a touchdown when he sees game action.
Following a quick three-and-out by UNM, the Miners marched down the field quickly and scored on a huge 55-yard passing touchdown from Hardison to Cowing.
The defense proceeded to hold New Mexico to punts throughout the second half. Safety Dy'vonne Inyang stole an interception and quarterback Terry Wilson was unable to do anything for the Lobos.
The Miner defense held New Mexico to just 71 total yards in the second half, including five punts and an interception.
Up next: UTEP (3-1) will open C-USA play next week when they host Old Dominion (1-3) on Saturday, October 2nd, at 7 p.m.