Freshman Warren Redix’s first career touchdown – a 32-yard reception – and Dashone Smith’s 65-yard pick-six surged UTEP to a 20-17 victory over North Texas on a chilly Saturday afternoon at Apogee Stadium.
“We had five turnovers and it wasn’t pretty,” head coach Sean Kugler said. “These kids are resilient, they fought to the end and I’m very proud of them.”
The Miners ended the 2015 season with a 5-7 mark (3-5 in Conference USA), while the Mean Green finished with one victory (1-11, 1-7 C-USA). It was the second year in a row UTEP won its final regular season game.
Redix’s go-ahead score came at 7:51 remaining in the contest. With the score 17-13 after a Cortney Finney 13-yard fumble return for a score, the Miners used a jet sweep to the right as Kavika Johnson pitched the ball to Redix who cleared the edge and took it to the house.
North Texas opened the scoring with a Trevor Moore 28-yard field goal. Jaquan White fumbled on UTEP’s prior possession that helped set up the score.
UTEP took a 6-3 lead, as it opened the second half with an eight-play, 75-yard drive that resulted in Johnson’s first-career rushing score – a five-yard run. The Miners ran the ball on all eight plays, led by Warren Redix’s career-long run of 27 yards that put his squad at the North Texas 29-yard line. Johnson added a 19-yard rush, while Jeremiah Laufasa rushed for 19 yards. However, Jay Mattox missed the PAT.
“We put Kavika in to spark the offense and he did a very good job of that,” Kugler noted. “So we stuck with him in the second half and our offense did a good job.”
UTEP gained only 84 first-half yards, but finished with 256 total yards in the game.
Tre Johnson gave the Mean Green a 10-6 lead when he returned a punt 53 yards during the middle of the third quarter. UTEP answered with Smith’s pick six, giving the away team a 13-10 advantage in the third period at the 5:32 mark.
With the score 20-17 in favor of UTEP and 4:18 remaining in the game, North Texas’ DaMarcus Smith ran for a 32-yard gain to the UTEP 30-yard line. But a targeting penalty and an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty knocked back the Mean Green to its own 40-yard line. UTEP forced a turnover on downs on the drive to help seal the victory.
Johnson led the rushing attack with 75 yards and a score, while Laufasa grinded out 62 yards. UTEP rushed for 187 yards on 48 attempts. Redix led the team with 42 yards on three catches and a score.
Despite the offense turning the ball over five times, the UTEP defense yielded season-lows in total yards (205) and first downs (10).
“It was a credit to our defense playing hard the entire time,” Kugler said.
Trey Brown led the defense with seven tackles, while Jimmy Musgrave, who knocked out starting quarterback Andrew McNulty with a rib injury, tallied five stops. Roy Robertson-Harris chipped in with a team-leading 2.0 tackles for loss and Alvin Jones, who left the game with an injury, registered a sack early in the contest. Jones finished with 6.5 sacks in 2015.
Author: UTEP Athletics