UTEP 38 – Bethune-Cookman 28: Miners Fend Off Wildcats in 2nd Half
For the first time since 2005, UTEP is 2-0 to start the season.
But to get to 2-0 wasn't easy for the Miners.
First, they stormed over rivals NM State, 30-3, last week. This week, despite some mid-game struggles, UTEP was able to fend off Bethune-Cookman (FCS) for a 38-28 win to kick off their 2021 home slate.
In the first half, UTEP pushed the ball aggressively to start things off but cooled down in the second quarter.
The Miners opened up their scoring by capitalizing on a Bethune-Cookman muffed punt early into the game. The offense was unable to score on the drive, and kicker Gavin Baechle nailed a 22-yard field goal to get the scoring started.
Following another Wildcats punt, UTEP capitalized on a 12-play, 78-yard drive capped off on a 4th and 2 touchdown from Hardison to tight end Trent Thompson.
UTEP went on to punt three more times, twice in B-CU territory to close out the half. Fortunately for them, the Wildcats struggled to get anything generated offensively and totaled just 78 yards of offense. The Miners went into halftime with a 10-0 lead.
Hardison fumbled on the Miners' opening drive of the second half, which set up an easy Wildcat two-play, six-yard drive capped off by a shovel pass from quarterback Shannon Patrick to Marcus Riley.
Bethune-Cookman looked like they were going to stop the Miners on the next offensive drive. However, a key roughing the passer penalty against B-CU extended UTEP's drive, which led to a lengthy 13-play, 83-yard drive that finished with a one-yard rushing touchdown by Calvin Brownholtz.
Patrick and the Wildcat offense responded rather quickly by converting on a six-play, 89-yard touchdown drive that ended in a Kemari Averett touchdown on 3rd-and-goal.
UTEP seemingly put the nail in the coffin when they scored on two consecutive possessions, including a six-yard fade from Hardison to Cowing for a touchdown. Cornerback Dennis Barnes stole an interception for the defense, thus setting up a Hardison to Justin Garrett eight-yard receiving score. Miners led comfortably, 31-14.
Despite a score by B-CU to cut the game to 10 points in the fourth quarter (31-21), UTEP was able to put together another lengthy drive, this time finished off by a Ronald Awatt 19-yard touchdown. UTEP led comfortably, 38-21, with just under five minutes left in the game. The Wildcats were able to score one more at the end of the game, but it was too late to mount a comeback.
Hardison finished the day completing 14-of-22 passes for 183 passing yards and three touchdowns. Justin Garrett led the receivers with five catches for 45 yards, while JUCO wideout Tyrin Smith added four catches for 76 yards.
The Miners were paced by Ronald Awatt (129 rushing yards, one touchdown), Willie Eldridge (118 yards) and Rey Flores (37 yards) on the ground for 289 total rushing yards.
Dennis Barnes led the UTEP defense with five tackles and an interception.
Next up: UTEP (2-0) will travel to face Boise State (0-1) on Friday, Sept. 10. The game broadcast will air on KLAQ (95.5 FM) and 600 ESPN El Paso will have MinerTalk following the game.