They came, they saw, they conquered: The Army Black Knights were given a warm welcome by 37,893 fans at the Sun Bowl – and they responded – routing the Miners 66-14 in what felt as much of a home game for them as it did for UTEP.
If football is a territory-invasion sport, Army’s onslaught on the Miners was a prime example on how to invade an opponent’s territory controlling time of possession 41 minutes, 40 seconds to UTEP’s 18:20.
“They out-performed us in every phase, offense, defense, special teams. They out-coached us, out-hustled us, they out-did everything and they deserved to get that win,” UTEP head coach, Sean Kugler said. “For what they’ve been through this week losing their teammate, I’m happy for them.”
With the Ft. Bliss located less than 20 miles from the UTEP campus, the Black Knights were playing in a friendly environment with the crowd making the visitors feel at home.
“We knew that coming in, obviously having the Army base here, it’s a great thing to see the turnout,” UTEP quarterback Zack Greenlee said. “We had to keep the focus on the game and try and execute.”
The Miners offense that spent most of its time on the bench, took the field for their second possession at the 13th minute mark of the second quarter, leaving little room for error.
“It wasn’t a formula for us to win and really to beat this team we almost have to score on every possession and limit them some possessions and get the ball from them, we gave them the ball,” Kugler said. “Everything that we could have done wrong to lose this game we did.”
The Black Knights were mourning the loss of Cadet and defensive back Brandon Jackson, who died Sunday in a single-car accident.
Army outgained the Miners 282 yards to 65 in the first half of play most of which were on the ground as the Black Knights exhibited their triple-option offense.
“As far as our team, if you’re going to blame anybody blame me,” Kugler said. “We weren’t prepared in any phase, we got our tails kicked in every phase. I’ll own it and as a head coach you have to own up to those things. I’ll do that and I’ll make sure that we do everything to try and rectify that moving forward this season.”
Army converted on 10 of 12 third-down attempts scoring on all seven trips into the red-zone in return limiting UTEP to three of nine on third downs.
The second half didn’t start any better for the Miners who went three-and-out on their opening drive followed by a pair of touchdowns from Army on three plays spanning 1 minute 11 seconds to extend their lead to 38 – zip.
The Miners would avoid the shutout needing only two plays after a 45-yard kick return by Jaquan White to the Army 46.
Running Back Aaron Jones scored the 20th touchdown of his collegiate career, placing him in eighth on the all-time list, making the score 38-7.
The Black Knights would continue the assault, getting two more scores from running back Darnell Woolfolk, before the end of the third quarter.
Army would rush the ball 72 times for a total of 424 yards while keeping the Miners to under 300 yards in total offense.
The Miners now hold a two-game losing streak losing to Texas 41-7 before tonight’s beatdown.
“I want to apologize to the fans of El Paso, you guys supported us extremely well, it was a great crowd [with] a lot of energy and I’m sorry that the Miners disappointed you tonight, we’ll do everything we can to fix that.” Kugler said.
UTEP concludes its non-conference schedule as they now await to take on Southern Miss on Sept. 24 at the Sun Bowl with kickoff set to 6 p.m.
“We have a big conference game coming up next week at home and we have to flip the page fast,” Greenlee said. “We have to watch this film tomorrow, learn from it and like I said flip that page and get right on Southern Miss, we have a good team coming into El Paso and we have to make a statement.”
GALLERY by Andres Acosta