With the Miners defeating the Louisiana Tech Bulldogs 19-3 Saturday night at the Sun Bowl, UTEP is now bowl eligible for the first time since 2016.
The Miners’ 6-1 record that not even the most loyal UTEP fan could have predicted.
The 18,468 fans in attendance were treated to a special night that saw the Miners defeat the Bulldogs with what Miners’ head coach Dana Dimel called on the best defensive performances he has ever seen in a game that he has been a part of.
Things got off to a quick start at the Sun Bowl as the Miners struck first, opening the score line by scoring a touchdown on their opening drive. The home team took the ball 75-yards in 13 plays, scoring on a 16-yard TD run by Deion Hankins.
A key play in that opening drive came when the Miners converted on a 4th and 1 at the Tech 49-yard line.
UTEP’s proficiency in the opening drive was no doubt a pleasant surprise to the many UTEP fans in attendance for the first time this season at the Sun Bowl.
A three and out on the La. Tech’s first possession led to excellent field possession for UTEP at the Louisiana Tech 31 yard line. Four plays later the Miners would score their second touchdown in as many possessions. Again it was Hankins scoring on a run from four yards out making the score 14-0 with 6:02 left in the opening quarter.
After the first quarter UTEP was leading 14-0.
The visitors started the 2nd quarter with the ball in possession, ultimately missing a field goal from 40 yards out.
On the ensuing possession, the Miners went three & out and punted the ball for the first time in the game, a punt that would pin back Tech to their two-yard line. The Miners would get a safety on the next play, making the score 16-0 with 11:53 left in the second quarter.
The Bulldogs got on the board, scoring a field goal from 25-yards out to make the score 16-3 with 6:56 left in the second quarter. Neither team scored for the rest of the quarter.
The visiting team went three and out to start the second half, but UTEP failed to capitalize. On the ensuing possession UTEP took the ball down the field and ultimately scored a 41-yard field goal by Gavin Baechle to make it 19-3 with :38 seconds left in the quarter.
Things got off to an interesting start in the 4th quarter as the Miners fumbled the ball deep in their own territory. Still the UTEP prevailed as Tyson Wilson intercepted the ball.
That turnover, the 3rd of the game for the Bulldogs, helped set the stage for the Miners to close out the game and get the win that sends them bowling.
After the game an elated UTEP head coach Dana Dimel gave all the credit in the world to his team, especially the defense. As for what’s next for this team Dimel did not shy away, to become a contender for the Conference USA title.
Dimel said, “Yes it is (to become a conference contender). You know how you do that? We’re winning on the road, that’s how you become a contender. That’s why I challenged them tonight (after the game), hey our next challenge now is Florida Atlantic. So enjoy it, come back tonight and get ready in order to get another road win in conference.”
Up next for the Miners will be a bye week. They will return to action in two weeks traveling to Boca Raton,Florida to face Florida Atlantic on Saturday, October 30. Kickoff is scheduled for 4pm MT. The game will be televised on ESPN+.
Author: Joe Rodriguez | Photos by Ruben R. Ramirez – El Paso Herald Post
Rodriguez is a life long El Pasoan. Joe has covered sports locally across the Borderland since 2007 for various media outlet both in El Paso and Ciudad Juarez as a personal passion as he is a professional in the world of healthcare (Physiatry). His favorite sports include soccer, auto racing, golf and horse racing.”