Treyvon Hughes rushed 23 times for a career-high 144 yards and two touchdowns, and UTEP pounded out 240 yards on the ground in a 36-34, season-opening win over Houston Baptist on Saturday night in the Sun Bowl.
“It is about finding a way to win a football game,” head coach Dana Dimel said. “That is such a big step for our football team right now because we had a ton of adversity. There is no better thing than a young football team to overcome adversity like we did and still find a way to scratch out a win. It was not perfect. We did not win the turnover margin, but we were able to establish a very physical run game.”
The Miners (1-0) rallied from a 28-20 third-quarter deficit, scoring 16 of the game’s final 22 points before a crowd of 34,646, the largest for a UTEP home opener in five years.
UTEP scored an emotional win while playing for the city of El Paso and fallen teammate Luke Laufenberg.
Gavin Baechle converted three field goals for UTEP, including a 35-yarder with 8:15 to go for the game winner.
After Baechle’s 30-yard field goal accounted for the only points of the first quarter and a 3-0 Miner lead, UTEP and HBU combined to score 34 points (17 each) in the second period.
The Miners extended their lead to 10-0 on an 80-yard TD pass from Brandon Jones to Tre’Shon Wolf with 12:57 remaining in the half. However, the Huskies accounted for 17 of the game’s next 24 points to knot the contest at 17 on a 47-yard field goal by Gino Garcia with 1:14 to go in the second quarter. Baechle connected on a 21-yard field goal right before halftime to send UTEP to the locker room leading 20-17.
UTEP compiled 289 yards of offense in the first half, including 75 on a nifty seven-play scoring drive that culminated in a three-yard TD run by Hughes late in the second quarter. Hughes and Jones did the heavy lifting on the drive, combining for 73 of the team’s 75 rushing yards.
The third quarter got off to an inauspicious start for the Miners as HBU reeled off 11 unanswered points to build a 28-20 lead. But UTEP responded by putting together back-to-back touchdown drives to take a 33-28 edge into the final frame.
First, Jones put the finishing touches on a 75-yard drive with a three-yard scoring run, then Hughes continued his big night by dashing for a 19-yard TD to conclude a 74-yard possession.
After HBU regained the lead, 34-33 early in the fourth quarter, Hughes went back to work. His 32-yard run on the first play of the next series set up Baechle’s 35-yard field goal with 8:15 remaining, putting the Miners ahead for good, 36-34 with 8:15 to go.
Jones, making his second start for UTEP under center, completed 10-of-20 passes for 268 yards. His ten completions went to eight different receivers, as Wolf led the way with 96 yards on two catches.
El Paso’s own Josh Fields supplemented Hughes in the ground game, as he racked up 61 yards on only seven carries (8.7 ypc).
The Miners outgained HBU (0-1) 508-413 in total yards. With UTEP clinging to a 36-34 lead midway through the fourth quarter and the Huskies driving for another score, the defense needed to make a big play and it did.
Chris Richardson sacked HBU quarterback Bailey Zappe inside the red zone and teammate Justin Rogers recovered the fumble to give the ball back to the Orange and Blue. The Miners were able to run out the final 5:57 on the clock.
A UTEP defense with a lot of new pieces was led by returning safety Rogers, who tallied 10 tackles.
The Miners will play their first road game of 2019 next Saturday (Sept. 7) at Texas Tech. Kickoff is slated for 6 p.m. MT and the game will be televised on FSN.
UTEP’s next home game is on Sept. 21 versus Mountain West foe Nevada at 6 p.m. Tickets are on sale by calling (915) 747-5234.
For complete coverage of UTEP Football, be sure to follow the Miners on social media at @UTEPFB (Twitter/Instagram) or visit the official home of UTEP Athletics at UTEPMiners.com.
Gallery by Andres ‘Ace’ Acosta – Chief Photographer – El Paso Herald Post
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