Old Dominion pulls away late, downs UTEP 31-21

NORFOLK, Va. – Mack Leftwich threw a trio of touchdowns, but UTEP fell to Old Dominion, 31-21, in front of a sold out crowd (20,118) at S.B. Ballard Stadium on a brisk Saturday afternoon.

The Miners (4-6, 2-4 Conference USA), with the loss, will need to win their next two contests to have a shot at bowl eligibility, while the Monarchs (5-5, 3-3 C-USA) are one win closer to eligibility.

“We were too inconsistent,” head coach Sean Kugler said. “Old Dominion did a good job in the second half of shutting down our offense and forced a lot of three-and-outs. That put us in a tough spot and we were playing catch up from there on.”

The Miners were outscored 14-6 in the second half, as the Monarchs rattled off 196 yards of total offense, including 78 yards on the ground.

With the score 15-10 in favor of UTEP, Old Dominion quarterback David Washington found Zach Pascal on a 26-yard score with six seconds remaining in the first half, while connecting with Jonathon Durhart on an 11-yard touchdown toss with 1:02 left in the third quarter to make the score 24-15.

Washington threw for 291 yards on 26-of-42 passing and Pascal tied a school record with 12 receptions for 145 yards.

“(Washington) is very athletic and difficult to deal with,” Kugler said. “He makes great plays with his feet.”

The Miners took an early 6-0 lead, as they opened the contest with 10-play, 71-yard scoring drive that resulted in a Tyler Batson seven-yard touchdown reception. True freshman running back Treyvon Hughes highlighted the drive by grinding out a career-long 19-yard run to help set up the score. The extra point attempt was failed after a bad snap to the holder.

The Monarchs answered, as Chris Kirtley connected on a 23-yard field goal attempt, making the score 6-3.

Autrey Golden, who needs one kickoff return for a touchdown to tie the NCAA record, ran back a 61-yard return on the following kickoff that helped set up a Jay Mattox 22-yard field goal and a 9-3 UTEP lead.

Ray Lawry, the C-USA rushing leader entering the contest, gave his squad the lead 10-9 at the beginning of the second quarter. On a third and four, Lawry rambled 42 yards to the end zone, as Washington made a key block at the beginning of the play.

UTEP would take the lead again, but for the last time. Leftwich led the Miners on a seven-play, 51-yard drive that ended with a Jaquan White 12-yard touchdown reception.

Leftwich tied his career high with the three scoring passes on 21-of-38 passing for 193 yards and two interceptions. Warren Redix tallied a career-best 75 yards on four receptions, while Jaquan White tied his career high with a pair of touchdown receptions.

But the Miners had multiple drops on key possessions, while Leftwich was sacked twice – both on play-action drop backs.

“We were a bit inconsistent, had some drops and other times we had guys open but got sacked,” Kugler said.

Jeremy Cox put the game away with a 42-yard scamper, giving the Monarchs the lead 31-15. Cox led the rushing attack with 84 yards on 15 attempts.

Old Dominion tallied 441 yards of total offense to UTEP’s 305 yards.

UTEP will close out its home portion of the 2015 schedule against C-USA West rival LA Tech (7-3, 5-1 C-USA) on Senior Day. Kickoff is set for 1:30 p.m. in the Sun Bowl.  The 2015 senior class will be honored following the contest.

Author:  UTEP Athletics