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Home | Tag Archives: utep football (page 5)

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Galleries+Story: Southern Miss Downs UTEP 39-7 in Season Finale

Southern Miss got off to a fast start with 16 first quarter points, more than enough for a stout Golden Eagle defense to protect in a 39-7 victory over UTEP on Saturday afternoon in the Sun Bowl.

“Obviously the start wasn’t what we wanted it to be,” UTEP coach Dana Dimel said.  “We went in with the direct focus of eliminating turnovers, because I really felt like our defense matched up well against these guys and could hold their own if we didn’t put them in bad situations early in the ballgame.  But we had too many costly turnovers, three more interceptions in the game and then the fumble there to start the second half.  We’ve got to eliminate those things, we’ve got to be more disciplined with our decision making.”

For the third straight game, the Miners turned it over on their opening possession as Brandon Jones’ interception led to a 41-yard return for a touchdown by Rachuan Mitchell.

That was the first of four turnovers by UTEP, leading to 23 points for the Golden Eagles.

Southern Miss converted two Miner turnovers into nine first-half points in building a 19-0 lead at the break.

The Miners couldn’t get going offensively in the first half, tallying 77 yards and five first downs.  Jones made his first career start and was operating behind the Miners’ 10th different offensive line combination in 12 games, as Gamaliel Barboza made his first career start at left guard.

Southern Miss converted a couple more Miner miscues into 14 points in the second half.

UTEP was only able to mount two sustained drives offensively. The first, in the second quarter, produced 54 yards on 12 plays and ended with a 39-yard missed field goal by Jason Filley.  The second came at the end of the game, as the Miners moved 58 yards on three plays in 20 seconds and avoided the shutout with a 41-yard TD pass from Jones to Erik Brown.

The UTEP defense was solid for the most part, yielding 378 yards, with 162 coming on two touchdown drives.

A Southern Miss defensive unit that entered the game rated ninth nationally in yards allowed was nearly impenetrable, as the Miners finished with 187 yards and 12 first downs.

Jones completed 11-of-23 passes for 114 yards and rushed 14 times for 29 yards.

“Brandon had some really good games, he did not have a good game today,” Dimel said.  “That was disappointing but he showed some good things.  Down the stretch here, we had seven offensive linemen healthy for this ballgame.  We’re playing guys who haven’t played all year up front.  And that makes us more one dimensional in what we do and we can’t establish the run game.”

Southern Miss gained 252 of its yards on the ground, as Trivenskey Mosley ran for 107 yards on 14 carries.

Jamar Smith led the Miners with 11 tackles, and Kahani Smith chipped in with 10. A.J. Hotchkins was credited with nine stops and, with 126 on the season, tied FIU’s Sage Lewis for the Conference USA lead.

The Miners will get some reinforcements back on offense in 2019 and will have to replace some playmakers on defense.  They’ll look to build on the progress made in year one under Dimel, when they were competitive in nearly every C-USA game before running out of gas (and bodies) down the stretch.

“I think they’ve really learned how to compete and to stay in ballgames and battle, and be that type of a football team that battles and has pride in what they do,” Dimel said.  “So I’ve been very happy with the progress and the buy-in that they’ve had.  I brought the guys up on the field at the end of the game and wanted to talk to them about that and what the seniors have done for this program, and how proud I am that they’ve been able to contribute and of where they’ve taken us.  Obviously, it’s a development process for us.  We had our ups and downs this year.  We showed some stretches where we played really good football.  Even when we were beat up and battered, we played some really good football.  We have taken some steps, but in the end injuries just got to be insurmountable for our football team.”

The Miners concluded the 2018 season with a 1-11 record (1-7 C-USA), while the Golden Eagles became bowl eligible at 6-5 overall and 5-3 in league play.

Galleries by Andres ‘Ace’ Acosta – Chief Photographer – El Paso Herald Post

Senior Gallery

Game Gallery

UTEP to Honor Teaching Partners at Football Game Saturday

The University of Texas at El Paso will honor the contributions of teachers, administrators and support staff at public and private schools throughout Region 19 during the UTEP football game against Southern Mississippi Golden Eagles.

UTEP, with the help of TFCU, El Paso Area Teachers Federal Credit Union, organized this annual event to recognize the efforts of all school personnel who teach, engage, nurture and mentor students in their care.

Their encouragement helps thousands of area students to believe in themselves and their dreams. The ripple effect positively impacts the families, friends and neighbors in our community.

Each teacher, administrator and support staff member received an invitation to the game along with the opportunity to register for up to four general admission tickets.

School employees in attendance will receive a commemorative UTEP/TFCU teacher appreciation t-shirt as they enter the stadium on game day.

For more information contact UTEP’s Office of University Relations at 915-747-8244.

What: UTEP’s Teacher Appreciation Football Game

When: 1 p.m. Saturday, November 24

Where: Sun Bowl Stadium

Video+Story: Turnovers Doom Miners as WKU Wins 40-16

BOWLING GREEN, Ky. – UTEP quarterback Brandon Jones threw for a career-high 340 yards and two touchdowns. But four first quarter turnovers did UTEP in, as WKU scored the game’s first 40 points, including 27 during the first quarter as the Miners fell 40-16 on a brisk Saturday night at Houchens-Smith Stadium.

After an abysmal first half (down 40-0), the Miners put up a fight in the second half.

“We didn’t start as well as we needed to start and had a lot of turnovers,” first-year UTEP head coach Dana Dimel said. “Five turnovers in the first half all by interception were critical mistakes and led to some great field position and great momentum from [WKU] allowed them to take some chances and they executed. We obviously didn’t play well in the first half.”

WKU gained 422 yards of total offense, while Steven Duncan passed for 214 yards and two scores. Quin Jernighan caught seven passes for 82 yards and a score, while the Hilltoppers ran for 208 yards on 50 carries and two touchdowns.

“During the second half, I was really proud of the effort we put out and coming back and keeping our fight,” Dimel said. “We tried to get to a two-score game at the end if we could’ve got in [the end zone]. So, I was proud of that part. Now we’re moving forward with this last game for our seniors who have been incredible this year.”

With the score 40-8, Jones found senior David Lucero down the left sideline and he took it 88 yards to pay dirt. It was a career-long play for both and the longest scoring play since Aaron Jones’s 91-yard touchdown run at Texas Tech in 2015.

Jones made the score 40-16 when he hooked up with Lucero again, this time on the two-point conversion.

Jones’s 340 yards was the most for a UTEP signal caller in 2018. He surpassed Ryan Metz’s 313 yards against North Texas on Oct. 6. Jones went for career highs in completions (14) and pass attempts (25), and at one point went 6-of-7 after a slow start.

Jones’s 340 yards were the most since Jameill Showers’s 365-yards passing at Colorado State in 2013.

Lucero registered his first career 100-yard game, tallying 118 yards on a pair of receptions.

The Miners opened the second half with a 75-yard, seven-play scoring drive. During the drive on a third-and-16, Brandon Jones rushed for 15 yards to the UTEP 34. Dimel elected to go for it on fourth-and-1 and was successful. The offense was in a bunched formation when Jones dropped back, throwing off the WKU defense and completed a short pass to Josh Weeks. The tight end took it for a season-long 38 yards to the WKU 28-yard line. Three plays later, Jones hooked up with Terry Juniel. Jones followed with a completed two-point attempt to Warren Redix, making the score 40-8.

WKU then went three-and-out on its first offensive possession in the third quarter.

Tre’shon Wolf followed with a career-long 48-yard reception from Jones into WKU territory. But the Hilltoppers’ defense stopped the Miners on a fourth-and-two play.

But WKU was too much after UTEP fell 40 points back. The Miners got the ball to the WKU six-yard line, but couldn’t find the end zone after four plays with under two minutes remaining. WKU got the ball back and ran the clock out.

Wolf gained a career-high 63 yards on a trio of catches.

The UTEP defense stepped up in the second half. After allowing 277 yards, the WKU offense was held to just 145 in the second half. The UTEP offense found life during the second half, accounting for 336 of its 392 total yards.

A.J. Hotchkins kept doing what he does best, which was tackling. He was credited with 12 tackles, his seventh double-digit performance of 2018, while the senior linebacker tallied a career best of two sacks.

Justin Rogers tallied a career-high nine stops, while Sione Tupou tied his career best with nine tackles. Kalon Beverly intercepted his second pass of the season during the fourth quarter. It was also Beverly’s fourth of his career.

UTEP will conclude the 2018 campaign on Nov. 24 as it will host Southern Miss on ‘Senior Day’ in the Sun Bowl Stadium with a 1 p.m. kickoff.

Miners Fall to C-USA East Leader Middle Tennessee in Shootout

Brent Stockstill threw for 352 yards and four touchdowns, and Conference USA East Division leader Middle Tennessee won for the sixth time in seven games with a 48-32 victory at UTEP on Saturday afternoon.

Ty Lee recorded 10 catches for a career-high 158 yards for Middle Tennessee (7-3, 6-1 C-USA), which jumped out to a 14-0 lead and scored 27 of the game’s first 34 points.

The tone was set early as Middle Tennessee drove 75 yards on nine plays for a touchdown on its opening possession, then capitalized on a UTEP fumble to score again less than three minutes later.

“That was a pretty frenetic game for sure, a lot of stuff going on,” UTEP coach Dana Dimel said. “I obviously wasn’t happy with the way we started the ballgame. On the first drive we got them into a third and long, they converted (it) and got a nice drive going. They got the first score in. But then offensively, we had a turnover right after that and put them in good field position. So I wasn’t happy at all with our early execution. It allowed them to get some momentum on the road. You’ve got to come out and start faster and start a little more precise than we did tonight. And from then, we were just playing behind.”

The game got away from the Miners after they pulled within a touchdown (14-7) on a seven-yard rushing score by Quardraiz Wadley early in the second quarter. Middle Tennessee tacked on a couple more touchdowns in the quarter, and UTEP couldn’t get closer than 16 points in the second half.

The Miners did get the ball back down a couple of scores with 3:25 to go, but Kai Locksley was sacked twice on the series and UTEP was unable to pick up a first down.

“We made some runs in the game,” Dimel said. “We got some deficits there that were larger than what we’ve been in for quite a while, but again our team rebounded in those types of situations and showed a lot of fight and a lot of character. I really liked what they did as far as making plays and battling. Our defense was out there quite a bit, but they battled and they battled and did some really positive things even though to the naked eye it may not appear that way. And then our offense found some rhythm in the second half and responded, had some success.”

A late flurry gave the Miners (1-9, 1-5 C-USA) a season high for points. They have scored 30+ points in consecutive C-USA games for the first time since the 2014 season. UTEP scored 22 points in the fourth quarter.

Wadley had a big day for UTEP, rushing 15 times for 99 yards and two touchdowns while going over 1,000 yards (1,019) for his career.

Stockstill was precision-sharp for Middle Tennessee, completing 31-of-40 passes with no interceptions.

“He played as good of a game as any quarterback I’ve been around for quite a while,” Dimel said. “That kid really, really played a ballgame today. He put some passes in some spots and he had to go to his third, fourth and fifth progressions at times and he does it so quickly and gets out there. You can just tell that he grew up in the game, he’s talented and he’s got some moxie and some savvy to what he does.”

The Blue Raiders gained 491 yards to the Miners’ 333.

Locksley and Brandon Jones both saw action for the Miners at quarterback, combining to complete 18-of-39 passes for 218 yards. The tight ends had a huge afternoon for UTEP, as Josh Weeks (4-71) and David Lucero (4-62) were the top two receivers.

UTEP had a pair of double-figure tacklers in A.J. Hotchkins (14) and Nik Needham (10), while Reed Blankenship led Middle Tennessee with nine tackles and two pass breakups.

The special teams standout for the Miners was Terry Juniel with 95 kickoff return yards and 21 punt return yards. He now ranks ninth in school history with 1,103 kickoff return yards.

“Overall our execution can be better than what it was today, but our effort was tremendous,” Dimel said.

The Miners will play their final road game of 2018 next Saturday (Nov. 17) at WKU. Kickoff is set for 5:30 p.m. MT and the game will be televised on beIN Sports.

Photo gallery courtesy Andres ‘Ace’ Acosta, Chief Photographer, El Paso Herald-Post

Wadley Named To Honorable-Mention List For Earl Campbell Tyler Rose Award

UTEP football’s Quardraiz Wadley was named to the honorable-mention list for the Earl Campbell Tyler Rose Award National Player of the Week, the organization announced Tuesday

The junior helped the Miners to a 34-26 win at Rice on Nov. 3. Wadley rushed for 91 yards, averaging 4.6 yards per carry, in the victory.

Wadley put the Miners on the board first with a 12-yard run. Later in the second quarter he added another 12-yard rushing touchdown to extend UTEP’s lead to 20-0. His longest rush of the game came late in the fourth quarter, when he dashed for 25 yards.

Through nine games, the junior has compiled a total of 475 yards rushing yards. His season high came against NM State (Sept. 22), when he registered 111 yards on the ground. He has also contributed to the Orange and Blue offense by picking up 90 receiving yards.
SMU quarterback Ben Hicks was named The Earl Campbell Tyler Rose Award National Player of the Week, while Josh Adkins (QB, NM State), Eno Benjamin (RB, ASU), David Blough (QB, Purdue), Corey Dauphine (RB, Tulane), J.K. Dobbins (RB, Ohio State), Caleb Evans (QB, ULM), Willie Jones III (QB, Texas State), Lee Morris (WR, Oklahoma) and Aca’Cedric Ware (RB, USC) earned-honorable mention recognition alongside Wadley.

UTEP meets Middle Tennessee on “Fan Appreciation Day” Saturday. Early kickoff is set for 1 p.m. in the Sun Bowl. Special fan rewards will be given away throughout the game, and fans are invited to come on the field postgame. The first 2,500 fans will receive free hats. Purchase of a football ticket gains free admittance to the UTEP women’s basketball season opener versus Alcorn State that evening (7 p.m.) in the Haskins Center. For tickets, please call 747-5234.

UTEP Fries Rice 34-26 to Notch First Victory in Nearly Two Years

UTEP burst out to a 27-0 lead in a dominating first-half performance, then held off resurgent Rice in the second half for a 34-26 win, its first victory since 2016.

The Miners (1-8, 1-4 C-USA) stamped out their 20-game losing streak, notched their first win under coach Dana Dimel and handed Rice (1-9, 0-6 C-USA) its ninth consecutive defeat.

It was UTEP’s first triumph at Rice Stadium since 2005, its initial year in Conference USA.

“Obviously the first half was the style of football that I love to see our team play,” Dimel said. “That was good football in all three aspects of what we did. In the second half, give credit to Rice. They came back and did some really positive things and hung in there. That team’s got a lot of fight. But our guys found a way to win. There wasn’t any panic in what we were doing and we just stayed within the game plan. The defense made a couple of great stands there in the fourth quarter. Overall I was very, very happy with the way our football team played and very excited to get the victory.”

The Miners scored the game’s first 27 points for only the third time against a C-USA opponent. UTEP led 34-0 at UTSA in 2014 and 28-0 at North Texas in 2014.

UTEP piled up 310 yards of offense in the first half. Kai Locksley threw for 193 yards in the first 30 minutes, and joined Quardraiz Wadley in rushing for two touchdowns.

It didn’t take long for the Miners to get on the board. Wadley’s 12-yard scoring run with 12:32 left in the first quarter made it 7-0. It was UTEP’s quickest TD versus a C-USA opponent since 2011, also at Rice.

Wadley and Locksley alternated TD runs in the first half, with Wadley scoring twice on 12-yard runs and Locksley picking up a pair of one-yard scores.

Rice only managed four first downs in the first half, with one coming on a 35-yard pass from Wiley Green to Austin Walter late in the half that set up a 43-yard field goal. The Owls had 96 yards in the first half.

The teams traded touchdowns in the third quarter, with Treyvon Hughes picking up a 19-yard rushing score.

But Rice came alive in the final period, as Green connected with Austin Trammell for a pair of long scores and the Owls converted back-to-back two-point conversions, suddenly making it a one-possession game (34-26) with a little over eight minutes to go.

The Owls would get a few more cracks at it, but a UTEP defense that has been solid all season long stepped up time and time again. First, the Miners forced a three and out. Then Justin Rogers picked off Green’s desperation pass on 4th and 20 at midfield. The game ended on a 25-yard completion from Green to Jordan Myers at the Rice 36-yard line when the clock ran out.

UTEP was balanced as can be offensively with 210 yards passing and 200 rushing. Locksley completed 13-of-21 passes for 193 yards. Wadley and Hughes rushed for 91 and 76 yards, respectively.

The Miners had a slim edge in total yards (410-383) as the Owls put up 287 yards in the second half. Green threw for 313 yards for Rice, which had a pair of 100-yard receivers in Trammell (112 yards) and Walter (104 yards).

UTEP meets Middle Tennessee on Fan Appreciation Day Saturday, Nov. 10. Early kickoff is set for 1 p.m. in the Sun Bowl. Special fan rewards will be given away throughout the game, and fans are invited to come on the field postgame.

The first 2,500 fans will receive free hats. Purchase of a football ticket gains free admittance to the UTEP women’s basketball season opener versus Alcorn State that evening in the Haskins Center.

For tickets, please call 747-5234.

Gallery+Story: UAB Blazers Blank Miners at Sun Bowl 19-0

UTEP held Conference USA West Division leader UAB to a season-low 19 points, but a depleted Miner offense was held scoreless on Saturday night in the Sun Bowl.

The Miners (0-8, 0-4 C-USA) limited the Blazers to 357 yards.  The 19 points were the fewest scored by UAB (7-1, 5-0 C-USA) versus a Conference USA opponent in its remarkable two-year run since reinstating its football program.

The UTEP offense, however, was only able to generate 120 yards, including 19 rushing, against a stout Blazer defense that has now surrendered seven points or fewer in four of five league games.

“Really, really pleased with the effort that our defense gave us throughout the whole ballgame,” UTEP coach Dana Dimel said.  “I thought early they [UAB] established some run game with what they were doing, but we made some good adjustments.  That was the game plan that we really wanted to stick to.  Going in, I told our guys that we needed to execute a game plan to win this ballgame.  The first part of it was we can give up a little bit in the run game, but don’t let them beat us over the top.  Make them grind it out.  And after that first scoring drive, I think we really locked down into that.

“We just needed to get some drives going offensively, a score, and a drive going offensively and the game’s right back in our hands.  That’s the part that we failed on.  We didn’t execute offensively and get anything established against their defense.”

The Miners started three freshmen on offense including true freshman left tackle Elijah Klein, who was playing in his first collegiate game.

Still, UTEP was in it in the fourth quarter for the fourth time in as many C-USA games.  The Blazers held a 12-0 lead heading to the final frame and were held to two touchdowns on the night.

The Blazers put 10 points on the board in the first quarter off a 15-yard scoring run by Spencer Brown and a 36-yard field goal by Nick Vogel.  The Miners lost starting quarterback Kai Locksley in the second period when he re-injured his ankle, leaving Brandon Jones at the controls of the offense for the second straight week.

“Going into the game with his ankle the way it was, I didn’t want to set him back, so I wasn’t going to run him near as much in this game,” Dimel said.  “Because of his injury, I was trying to get him established in the passing game and he got hurt on a passing play.”

The Miner defense made a tremendous goal line stand in the third quarter as Brown was stuffed for a one-yard loss on fourth down at the one.  However, the Blazers scored a safety on the next play when Quardraiz Wadley fumbled, Jones recovered and was tackled in the end zone.

A 36-yard field goal by Jason Filley in the third quarter was taken off the board by an illegal formation penalty on UTEP.  His corresponding 41-yard attempt was wide right.

The Blazers put the game away with a 12-play, 63-yard TD drive late in the fourth quarter.  UAB backup quarterback Tyler Johnson III made it 19-0 with a four-yard rushing score.

Brown rushed 21 times for 103 yards for UAB, which ran for 265 yards as a team.

Locksley (7-for-11, 52 yards) and Jones (5-for-9, 49 yards) combined to complete 12-of-20 passes for 101 yards for the Miners.

UAB piled up 12 tackles for losses, including 2.5 each by Fitz Mofor and Chris Woolbright, contributing mightily to UTEP’s low rushing total.

A.J. Hotchkins racked up a career-high 15 tackles for losses for the Miners, and Jamar Smith added 10 stops.

“All in all I thought our defense fought,” Dimel said.  “They were out there too long.  They were put in some tough situations and responded great.  And that’s encouraging, because if you keep playing defense like that you’re going to keep yourself in ball games like we did tonight.  We’ve just got to fill the pieces of our offense there, we lost five more guys between last week’s game and this week’s game injury-wise.  Six of our top offensive linemen did not play tonight, and that showed.”

The Miners will play at Rice (1-8, 0-5 C-USA) next Saturday at 1:30 p.m. MT. The game will be streamed on ESPN+.

Photo gallery by Andres ‘Ace’ Acosta, Chief Photographer, El Paso Herald-Post

Former Miner Supports “Seats For Soldiers”

Mark McDonald, a UTEP Football Letterman from 1970-71, has donated his two tickets on the 50-yard line for Saturday’s game against UAB in support of the “Seats For Soldiers” program.

McDonald lives 300 miles from El Paso in Midland, Texas.  The long-time Miner supporter is traveling to Colorado on family business, but sent his tickets to the UTEP Athletic Department via overnight service from Hereford, Texas.  They’ll be arriving Thursday and will be given to a military family.

“I don’t see how I can possibly begin to thank our servicemen and women for everything that they do for us,” McDonald said.  “Maybe, just maybe, this is a little token of appreciation.  I’d like to thank them for everything that they do for us civilians.  They could do my job, but I couldn’t do their job.”

While he lives far away from El Paso, McDonald noted that it’s also important for local fans who can’t make it to Saturday’s game to donate their tickets.

“Fort Bliss is right there and they’ve been good neighbors to the university for years and years,” he said.  “I know that local Miner fans can’t come every week either.  It’s impossible.  But to make the tickets available to servicemen and women is a way of bringing the university community and the military community closer.  And I think that’s important, not only for UTEP but for the city of El Paso.”

Saturday’s game is “Military Night” and will feature static displays around the stadium and an enlistment ceremony at halftime.  The game will also feature a postgame fireworks show courtesy of Speaking Rock Entertainment Center.

Kickoff is at 5:30 p.m.

To participate in the Seats for Soldiers program, please visit the UTEP Athletics website.

Miners Fall Just Short at LA Tech 31-24

RUSTON, LA. – UTEP took LA Tech down to the wire on Saturday afternoon in Ruston but Brandon Jones, on for the injured Ryan Metz, overthrew David Lucero in the end zone on fourth and 20 in the final seconds and the Bulldogs escaped with a 31-24 victory.

The Miners (0-7, 0-3 C-USA), playing a game where they were tied or leading in the fourth quarter for the first time since the 2016 season finale, knotted it at 24 on a 36-yard field goal by Jason Filley with 11:23 to go.

On fourth and one at the UTEP 43 with under seven minutes remaining, LA Tech quarterback J’Mar Smith broke free for a 43-yard rushing score that proved to be the difference in the game.

The Miners started their final drive at their own 49 with 1:47 to go following a 16-yard punt return by Terry Juniel.  They got to the Bulldog eight, but a 15-yard facemask penalty was a back breaker.

“Again, I liked the way the guys competed and fought, they really took it down to first and goal at the [eight] yard line and just didn’t complete the drive right there,” UTEP coach Dana Dimel said.  “LA Tech’s players stepped up, #45 [DE Jaylon Ferguson] is a heck of a player and he really brought some energy on that last drive and made some plays.”

The Bulldogs took a 7-0 lead with 8:00 remaining in the first quarter on a 19-yard interception return for a TD by L’Jarius Sneed. The Miners tied it up on a 25-yard TD pass from Metz to Keynan Foster with 5:55 to go in the period. Foster, who finished with four catches for 84 yards, picked up three receptions for 73 yards on the drive.

LA Tech marched down the field to regain the lead, moving 75 yards on three plays in 1:21 and pulling in front, 14-7, on a 19-yard TD pass from Smith to Adrian Hardy.

The Bulldogs extended their lead to 17-7 on a 19-yard field goal by Bailey Hale at the end of the half.

UTEP put together an impressive drive to start the second half but lost Metz in the process. After he single-handedly accounted for 59 yards on the drive (22 passing, 37 rushing), he exited with a possible concussion and in came Jones for his first action of the season. The Bakersfield College transfer scooted in for the six-yard touchdown run to pull the Miners within three at 17-14.

LA Tech pushed the lead back to 10 (24-14) on a five-yard touchdown run by Kam McKnight with 7:16 remaining in the third. But the Miners would counter once again with a 12-play, 78-yard drive, capped by a one-yard TD run by Jones to make it a three-point game (24-21) once again.

UTEP tied it at 24 on a 36-yard field goal by Jason Filley with 11:23 left in the fourth quarter.

“All in all, the first turnover was a big part of the ballgame where they scored that touchdown. That gave them a little bit of momentum,” Dimel said.  “But again we rallied back and made it a good ballgame.  And the [field goal] they got before the half to put them up 17-7 was a big play in the game as well.  And then we came back in the second half and just kept fighting.”

Metz completed 11-of-17 passes for 164 yards and Jones completed 7-of-15 passes for 98 yards as the Miners registered a season-high 19 completions.

Smith completed 17-of-29 passes for 156 yards for LA Tech.  Teddy Veal had 103 yards receiving and Jaqwis Dancy rushed for 93 yards.

A.J. Hotchkins posted 11 tackles for the Miners, who had a season-high four sacks including two by Denzel Chukwukelu.  Ferguson was responsible for 3.5 of the Bulldogs’ four sacks.

“I was really pleased with the way our defense played throughout the whole game,” Dimel said.  “They held them to pretty limited yardage and got into some tough situations where we weren’t establishing good field position early in the game, and our defense responded really, really well to that.  So the overall play of the defense was really good against a good offensive football team.  And then I liked the way the offense responded when we got down to our third quarterback.  Brandon stepped up and did some really positive things.”

“Right now our team is overcoming a lot of adversity and going out and fighting with a lot of heart and a lot of effort,” Dimel said.  “It’s a fun team to watch play, and that’s what we appreciate the most.  The people of El Paso should be proud with the way the football team is competing.”

The Miners will return to the Sun Bowl to battle UAB on “Military Night” next Saturday (Oct. 27) at 5:30 p.m. The game will feature a postgame fireworks show. Call 747-5234 for tickets.

Discounted tickets are available for all military members. Special group pricing and experiences are available by calling 747-6150.

Gallery+Story: UTEP Falls Short Against North Texas 27-24

UTEP went toe-to-toe with defending Conference USA West Division champion North Texas on Saturday in the Sun Bowl, but the Mean Green escaped with a 27-24 victory.

Down 27-24, the Miners (0-6, 0-2 C-USA) got the ball back with 2:45 to go. Following a roughing the passer call on the Mean Green, UTEP had a first down at its own 31-yard line and a chance to win. But the drive stalled after that, as David Lucero couldn’t corral Metz’s long pass on fourth and 17.

The Mean Green (5-1, 1-1 C-USA) ran out the clock and averted a major upset.

“We’ve just got to make more plays and eliminate turnovers,” UTEP coach Dana Dimel said. “That’s the big thing for us right now, is the turnovers, and we’ve got to win the turnover game. And honestly we didn’t do that. So we’ve got to continue to work to do that and we’ll be a lot better off. We had two picks and they had none. So we’ve got to play a more clean football game. We had a bunch of kids making good plays and doing a lot of nice stuff. I was proud of the way the guys fought tonight and proud of their effort.

“I’m really happy with what they did out there. We were in the game with 17 of the guys in our two deep [at the beginning of the season] that didn’t play tonight. So the guys that we’ve got out there are fighting their tails off right now.”

The game was tied at 10 after the teams traded blows in the first half. North Texas appeared to take control in the third quarter, as a 29-yard field goal by Cole Hedlund and an 11-yard TD pass from Mason Fine to Rico Bussey instituted a 20-10 lead. But the Miners just kept on coming.

Metz’s one-yard TD run ended a 12-play, 90-yard drive, and the Miners were within three (20-17) with 10:43 to go.

A 75-yard drive by the Mean Green, capped by a 20-yard rushing score by Nic Smith, pushed the UNT lead back to 10 (27-17) with 5:46 left. But UTEP wasn’t done.

It took the Miners only 41 seconds to get right back into it, as Metz found Keynan Foster for a 67-yard touchdown reception.

The defense forced a three-and-out, giving the offense one final opportunity.

North Texas punted four times, but only once in the second half when it scored on its first three drives. The Miners did not punt in the second half, and a 53-yard missed field goal that was blocked by the Mean Green late in the third quarter loomed large.

Still, the Miners inch closer and closer to a victory with their third straight game that they had a chance to win in the fourth quarter.

“It was close, it was right there,” Dimel said. “It goes down to a lot of plays when you have a close game like that. But we were right there again. David made a great effort and almost pulled it in. It was a really, really tough catch. He had it for a second and it would’ve been a heck of a play if he had made it.”

Ryan Metz threw for 313 yards – the most by a UTEP quarterback since 2013 – and Warren Redix also had a career day with seven receptions for 131 yards.

“I think Metzie did a really good job of finding open receivers and doing some things,” Dimel said. “We were trying to match our personnel to what guys do best, and Metz can throw the football.

“We didn’t even think Warren was going to play, and he really had a great week and sucked it up. He was a game time decision and did a really nice job. All the receivers stepped up and made some plays today. I was excited about that.”

A.J. Hotchkins was the star on defense with 14 tackles.

Fine finished 23-of-34 passing for 294 yards for North Texas. Bussey snared eight catches for 117 yards.

“We’re really close,” Dimel said. “It’s right there for us, every game. The last four games, we just continue to get better. We’ve overcome a ton of adversity with what we’re doing. We have a lot of guys out and injured and being able to compete against the conference [division] champions last year, and having the game go down to the last plays of the game is a great tribute to what the guys are doing, how they’re staying with the 1-0 mentality and battling their tails off.”

The Miners will enter their bye week and return to action on Oct. 20 at LA Tech. Kickoff is at 1:30 p.m. MT and the game will be streamed on ESPN+.

Gallery by Andres ‘Ace’ Acosta – Chief Photographer, El Paso Herald-Post

UTEP Celebrates a Week of Miner Pride for Homecoming 2018

The University of Texas at El Paso will have a lot to sing about during Homecoming week, which started last Friday and concludes Saturday, October 6.

This year’s Homecoming celebration will incorporate the student-selected theme – “Musicals” – paying homage to melodious sensations of the stage and screen from past and present.

“Homecoming is definitely our favorite time of year,”said Maribel Villalva, UTEP assistant vice president for alumni relations. “We can’t wait for our alumni – as well as the El Paso community – to come to the UTEP campus and help us celebrate this great University.”

Homecoming activities and events throughout the week are organized to welcome alumni and friends back to campus, engage students and celebrate Miner pride.

UTEP students, alumni, faculty and staff are invited to come out and show what it means to be a Miner at noon Thursday, October 4 at Centennial Plaza.  The Homecoming Pep Rally will feature performances from the UTEP marching band, cheerleaders and Golddiggers dance team, fun giveaways and special guests.

The first 500 attendees will receive an ice-cold beverage and frozen dessert. After the pep rally, the entertainment continues with inflatables and a fun competition between Team Orange and Team Blue. Watch UTEP faculty and staff challenge students.

The 2018 recipients of the Distinguished Alumni and Gold Nugget Award will be recognizedat the Distinguished Alumni Awards Dinner at 6:30 p.m. Friday, October 5, hosted by the Office of Alumni Relations at the Don Haskins Center. For ticket information, call 915-747-6361 or visit the alumni website.

On Saturday, October 6, the Office of Alumni Relations together with the Miner Athletic Club will host what they are calling “the biggest tailgate in town” from 2:30 to 5 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 6 at Kidd Field. For ticket information, visit the alumni tailgate page.

The Homecoming celebration will be capped off that night with the football game between the Miners and the University of North Texas Mean Green at 5:30 p.m. in Sun Bowl Stadium.

Inner campus tailgates may start at 2 p.m. while tailgating in outer lots may begin at 8 a.m. For more information on tailgating rules and regulations, visit tailgate rules webpage.

“We will have so many great events throughout the week, culminating in the Homecoming football game at the Sun Bowl,” Villalva said. “Homecoming is also UTEP’s opportunity to thank its alumni for their support and to showcase a talented group of individuals who are being honored as the 2018 Distinguished Alumni and Gold Nuggets. This group of alumni represent the excellence that UTEP bestows. We look forward to connecting the past and the present and to including our current students in this yearly celebration.”

Author:  Christina Rodriguez – UTEP Communications

UTEP Rally Falls Short, UTSA Wins 30-21

SAN ANTONIO – UTSA built a big halftime lead, then held off a fierce UTEP second-half rally and topped the Miners, 30-21, in the Conference USA opener for both teams on Saturday night at the Alamodome.

The Roadrunners (2-3, 1-0 C-USA) led 24-7 at halftime, but allowed the Miners (0-5, 0-1 C-USA) to get within three points in the fourth quarter before holding them off at the end.

Jared Sackett kicked three field goals for UTSA, including a 51-yarder at the end of the first half and a 47-yarder with 35 seconds to go that put it away.  He accounted for all six of the Roadrunners’ points in the second half, when they were outscored 14-6.

The Miners scored two touchdowns in the second half, but couldn’t come all the way back from a 24-7 deficit.

The game got off to a promising start as the Miners recovered a fumbled punt return by the Roadrunners near midfield, took advantage and took their first lead of 2018. Kai Locksley’s three-yard rushing TD made it 7-0.

UTEP forced another UTSA punt on the next drive and had momentum. But Terry Juniel muffed the punt return and the Roadrunners’ Andrew Martel recovered the fumble at the Miner seven yard-line. One play later, UTSA tied the game on a touchdown run by Cordale Grundy.

The Roadrunners took advantage of excellent field position once again, as they began their first drive of the second quarter in Miner territory. They moved 48 yards on seven plays and Grundy connected with Carter McCarthy for a nine-yard score, making it 14-7.

Shortly after, Clayton Johnson picked off Locksley deep in UTEP territory and returned it to the Miner 20. The Roadrunners capitalized with a 15-yard TD pass from Grundy to Tykee Ogle-Kellogg for a 21-7 lead.

The Roadrunners tacked on a 51-yard field goal by Sackett at the end of the half.

The Roadrunners scored 14 points off UTEP turnovers in the first half. Of UTSA’s eight first-half drives, three started in UTEP territory and two others began near midfield.

“That six-minute span right there was disappointing for our football team, the turnover on the punt and then the interception, those two right there back-to-back,” UTEP coach Dana Dimel said.  “I liked the way we came out of the locker room and played well.  I felt like we had the game where we wanted it.  Those unforced errors, we talk about that all the time. Those two were gigantic, we gave the ball to them inside the 20 twice.”

The Miners got back into it with a couple of impressive second-half touchdown drives. Locksley’s six-yard TD pass to David Lucero completed a seven-play, 71-yard drive and made it 24-14 with 5:26 remaining in the third quarter.  Quardraiz Wadley’s three-yard punch into the end zone concluded a 10-play, 69-yard drive and inched UTEP closer at 24-21 with 13:08 left in the game.

Sackett’s 39-yard field goal with 9:49 to go gave the Roadrunners a little breathing room at 27-21. The Miners had a couple of opportunities to take the lead but the UTSA defense stiffened, forcing a punt and an errant fourth-down pass by Ryan Metz, who was in for the injured Locksley.

Grundy completed 20-of-35 passes for 187 yards for UTSA.

The Miners had an edge in total yards (297-278) for the second straight game behind Locksley, who completed 10-of-16 passes for 117 yards and rushed for 106 more.

UTEP has allowed less than 300 yards in back-to-back games versus FBS opponents for the first time since 2010.

“What I talked to the team about in the locker room is how good a job the defense did in the second half,” Dimel said.  “They got two short fields there in the first half, then in the second half they gave up three points besides the field goal there at the end.

“If we control the ball better and eliminate those turnovers, it’s a different ball game. But that’s part of it … a recurring theme is taking care of the football better.”

UTEP hosts unbeaten and defending Conference USA West Division champion North Texas next Saturday (Oct. 6) at 5:30 p.m. MT. It marks the Miners’ 87th Homecoming game.

Next week’s game will feature a 30th anniversary reunion of the 1988 Miners, the winningest team in school history. Fans are encouraged to arrive early for the chance to receive one of a limited number of commemorative 1988 replica jerseys. Gates will open at 4 p.m. For tickets, call (915) 747-5234 or visit Ticketmaster.

Tennessee Too Much for UTEP, Vols Win 24-0

KNOXVILLE, TN. – Ty Chandler rushed for 158 yards, including an 81-yard touchdown burst in the third quarter, as Tennessee topped UTEP, 24-0, on Saturday at Neyland Stadium.

Jarrett Guarantano completed 12-of-16 passes for 168 yards for the Vols (2-1) in the first matchup between the teams in 28 years.

The defense kept the Miners (0-3) in the game until early in the fourth quarter, when Guarantano capped an 11-play, 71-yard drive with a four-yard TD pass to Jauan Jennings.

UTEP wasn’t able to get its offense untracked. The Miners finished with seven first downs and 134 yards, including 39 passing. Kai Locksley completed 9-of-22 passes for 39 yards, and rushed nine times for 24 yards.

UTEP fell just shy of 100 yards rushing (95) as Treyvon Hughes and Quardraiz Wadley tied for the team lead with 33 yards apiece.

“We had a really tough time moving the football,” UTEP coach Dana Dimel said. “We really struggled offensively. Our execution wasn’t very good. I’m very disappointed with that. We had shown signs of improvement last week with our offense, and we just didn’t have anything today. The passing game wasn’t good. Third down conversions were bad. Our production was bad. It was just a bad offensive day for us.”

Tennessee picked up 345 yards on the ground and 512 total, but the Vols weren’t able to gain separation on the scoreboard until deep into the second half. The Miners registered four tackles for losses, a couple of sacks and recovered a pair of fumbles to stall Tennessee drives.

The Vols amassed 259 yards at the break but led just 10-0. A 38-yard field goal by Brent Cimaglia with 2:39 remaining in the first quarter opened the scoring. Early in the second quarter, the Vols took advantage of a short field and moved 36 yards on three plays, capped by a three-yard rushing TD by Tim Jordan.

The Miners got the ball to start the second half, but went three and out and on the next play, Chandler broke free for the 81-yard TD and a 17-0 lead.

UTEP senior DB Nik Needham recorded the 25th pass break-up of his career to tie Jahmal Fenner’s school standard. A.J. Hotchkins registered a game-high 10 tackles for UTEP.

With the offense ineffective, the Miners were forced to punt 12 times.

“We’ve just got to execute better and handle the environment better,” Dimel said. “We had some procedure penalties, but that just played a minor part in it. There were a lot of assignment busts, and that’s the thing we need to improve moving forward. We did lose a third offensive lineman [Jerrod Brooks] this week in practice, so we’re down three starters on the offensive line and I think that really showed up today for us big-time. Any team that takes three losses on their offensive line is going to have some improvement to make. We lost two, we meshed together pretty good last week and we lost a third one this week. So we’ve got to shore up those spots right now.”

UTEP and NM State will face off in the FirstLight Federal Credit Union Battle of I-10 next Saturday (Sept. 22) at 5:30 p.m. in the Sun Bowl. The first 1,000 fans will receive free rally flags, plus all fans receive first down cards compliments of FirstLight Federal Credit Union. The halftime show will feature performances by both the UTEP and NMSU marching bands, plus the 2018 UTEP Athletics Hall of Fame induction class will be recognized. Tickets are available by calling (915) 747-5234.

Video+Gallery+Story: UNLV Rebels Upend UTEP 52-24

LAS VEGAS, NV. – Lexington Thomas and Armani Rogers accounted for 230 of UNLV’s 414 rushing yards, as the Rebels handed UTEP a 52-24 setback on Saturday night at Sam Boyd Stadium.

“We struggled a lot stopping the run,” UTEP coach Dana Dimel said. “They did a really good job. I watched the film on them this week. I thought they had a really good offensive line. I think they’ve done a good job developing some powerful kids up front. They’ve had some injuries the last couple of years, and this is the year they’re healthy.

“They did a nice job mixing the inside-outside run game, and they played a really physical football game on offense. Our defense has obviously got to get a lot better against the run game moving forward.”

The Miners (0-2) trailed just 14-10 entering the second quarter, but the Rebels (1-1) put 24 points on the board in the next 15 minutes to take a 38-10 lead at the midway point. Then UNLV capitalized on a fumble by the Miners’ Quardraiz Wadley deep in UTEP territory to start the third quarter, as Thomas’ short touchdown run made it 45-10.

Wadley was coming off a big first half for UTEP, including a career-long 41-yard scamper.

The Miners were able to establish the ground game in the first half, running for 164 yards, but couldn’t put the clamps on the Rebels’ rushing attack as they pounded out 277 yards of their own.

UTEP got the run game going early and late, but struggled to move the ball in-between.

“Some of it was unforced errors with what we were doing,” Dimel said. “We had some good runs early and then we stopped executing and made some mistakes. We got back to running the ball again in the third and fourth quarter. The things that hurt us more than anything were the turnovers and some unforced errors. It was not really anything schematically that they were doing, it was more us not executing as well as we had earlier in the ballgame.”

Rogers finished 6-for-13 passing for 119 yards with three scores, and rushed 10 times for 103 yards and a TD. Thomas compiled a game-high 127 yards on 17 rushing attempts.

Kai Locksley made his first start for the Miners at quarterback. El Paso native Markos Lujan was inserted into the starting lineup for the first time as well, at center.

Locksley rushed for 119 yards and two touchdowns. Wadley finished with 96 yards on only seven carries. Locksley and Ryan Metz once again split time at quarterback, combining to complete 11-of-29 passes for 123 yards.

UNLV gained 533 yards on the night to UTEP’s 388.

The temperature at kickoff was 106 degrees, tying it for the hottest game in school history. It was also 106 degrees for the 2000 season opener at Oklahoma.

The Miners will continue their two-game road swing at Tennessee next Saturday (Sept. 15) at 10 a.m. MT. The game will be televised on the SEC Network.

The Vols squared their record at 1-1 with a 59-3 victory over East Tennessee State on Saturday in Knoxville. UTEP and Tennessee will be meeting for the first time since the 1990 season.

Gallery & Video by Andres ‘Ace’ Acosta, Chief Photographer, El Paso Herald-Post

Post game press conference with head coach Dana Dimel final score 52-24

Posted by El Paso Herald-Post on Saturday, September 8, 2018


Video+H-P Sports In Depth: UTEP Football Kicks Off 101st Season Saturday

UTEP opens its 101st football season – and launches the coach Dana Dimel era – against Northern Arizona in the Sun Bowl on Saturday.

The Miners are 43-52-5 in season openers, including 33-20-3 at home; while 17-12-1 in season openers in the Sun Bowl. The Miners are seeking their first victory since a 52-24 rout of North Texas in the 2016 season finale.

It didn’t take long for the Miners to get back in the victory column when following up the previous three winless seasons in school history. The 1917 squad finished 0-0-1 and, after taking off the 1918 season due to World War I, opened the 1919 campaign with a 32-0 rout of Motor Transport.

The 1965 Miners throttled North Texas in the season opener, 61-15, after finishing 0-8-2 the year before. The 1974 Miners stamped out a 13-game losing skid (0-11 in 1973) with a 34-7 triumph over Utah in week two.

Dana Dimel takes over as the 26th head coach in UTEP football history against Northern Arizona. Dimel has posted a 30-39 record as a collegiate head coach with stints at Wyoming (1997-99) and Houston (2000-02). In his last head coaching appearance on Nov. 30, 2002, Dimel’s Houston Cougars knocked off Conference USA champion Louisville, 27-10, at John O’Quinn Field at Robertson Stadium.

Dimel most recently served as the offensive coordinator, running backs coach and tight ends coach at his alma mater, Kansas State, from 2009-17. Dimel compiled the most wins of any offensive coordinator in college football from 2011-17 (61), and was a part of eight straight bowl appearances.

Overall, he was involved with 12 bowl teams over 19 seasons in three separate tours of duty on the Wildcats staff.

Posted by El Paso Herald-Post on Monday, August 27, 2018

UTEP coaches have posted a combined record of 8-17 in their first game. Coaches who were victorious in their debuts were Tommy Dwyer (1914), George B. Powell (1924), Mack Saxon (1929), Ben Collins (1957), Warren Harper (1963), Bobby Dobbs (1965), Bill Yung (1982) and Bob Stull (1986).

Northern Arizona returns 19 starters and 39 letter winners from 2017 and is rated No. 16 in Street & Smith’s Preseason FCS Top 25. The Lumberjacks were 7-5 last season, including 6-2 in the Big Sky Conference (tied for third place). They fell to San Diego, 41-10, in round one of the FCS Playoffs.

Returning first-team All-Big Sky junior quarterback Case Cookus has 7,703 passing yards and 72 touchdown passes on his collegiate resume entering 2018. Senior Emmanuel Butler has compiled 2,541 yards receiving with 26 TD’s at NAU and is back after missing all but two games last season due to injury. He needs just 49 receptions, 501 yards and two touchdowns to set the Lumberjack career records.

An experienced NAU secondary, headlined by cornerbacks Maurice Davison and Khalil Dorsey and safeties Wes Sutton and Kam’ron Johnson, held opponents to 174.3 yards passing per game in 2017.

This is the first meeting between the Miners and the Lumberjacks since 1947. UTEP is unbeaten (5-0-1) in six previous matchups with NAU. The lone tie came during the 1936 season, a scoreless draw in Flagstaff.

The Miners’ average margin of victory in the five meetings since has been 24.8 points. One of the more impressive individual performances in school history came against NAU in 1937 as Ken Heineman racked up 407 yards of offense, including 338 passing, while scoring 21 points in a 53-13 rout. He completed 14-of-17 pass attempts (.824) versus the Lumberjacks, the third-best percentage in school history, and added 115 punt return yards, tied for the fourth-top total in school annals.

NAU has served as the Miners’ season-opening opponent once previously, in 1940 (28-7 victory in Flagstaff). UTEP’s Dana Dimel is coaching against Northern Arizona for the first time.

Coach Jack Curtice made use of every man on the Miner bench as Texas Mines thumped the Flagstaff Lumberjacks, 40-0, on Oct. 4, 1947, at Kidd Field. The second stringers took complete control of the game after the regulars put the Miners safely in the lead early in the second quarter.

The Miners piled up 279 yards rushing with 13 players carrying the ball at least once. Star back Fred Wendt touched the ball only six times for 11 yards. Harvey Gabrel reached the end zone twice to lead Texas Mines’ offensive attack. The Miner defense yielded just 236 yards, including 66 rushing.

UTEP has four Arizona natives on its roster in senior WR Terry Juniel (Surprise), senior LS Jake Sammut (Mohave Valley), junior K Brady Viles (Fort Mohave) and junior TE Josh Weeks (Show Low). Northern Arizona has one Texas product in senior DL Jalen Goss (Dallas). Juniel and Lumberjack junior WR Joey Gatewood were teammates at Glendale Community College.

Viles was a teammate of NAU junior OLs Joe Hakizimana and Jason Linden at Arizona Western College. UTEP junior WR Alan Busey and NAU junior DL Aaron Andrews played together at Chabot College. Miner junior WR Justin Garrett and Lumberjack junior WR Stacy Chukwumezie were teammates at Cerritos College.

UTEP sophomore DB Justin Prince and NAU junior OL Mitchell Kay spent the 2017 season at Long Beach City College. UTEP junior DL Chris Richardson and NAU sophomore RB Aramis Aldredge were a part of the football program at Oak Hills (Calif.) High School.

The Dana Dimel era will begin on Sept. 1 against Northern Arizona in the Sun Bowl. Since Bob Stull’s first season as head coach in 1986, UTEP head coaches are a combined 27-43-1 during their first season at the helm. On average, that is 4.5 wins per season.

Gary Nord (2000) and Mike Price (2004) are the last two UTEP head coaches to finish with a winning record in their first seasons – Nord went 8-4 with a Humanitarian Bowl appearance and Price went 8-4 with a trip to the Houston Bowl. Stull went 4-8 in 1986, but followed with a 7-4 campaign in 1987.

Sean Kugler finished 2-10 in 2013, but directed the Miners to a 7-6 record the following year with a trip to the New Mexico Bowl.

UTEP football head coach Dana Dimel brought in Mike Canales (offensive) and Mike Cox (defensive) as the coordinators. Canales will begin his 33rd season of coaching after serving as the quarterbacks coach at the University of Tennessee.

Previously, Canales headed a successful North Texas offense for six seasons, while Cox served as linebackers coach at Kansas State for five seasons. Cox tutored five linebackers that earned All-Big 12 status.

The 2018 UTEP football schedule will include six home games – Northern Arizona (Sept. 1), NM State (Sept. 22), North Texas (Oct. 6), UAB (Oct. 27), Middle Tennessee (Nov. 10) and Southern Miss (Nov. 24).

The Miners will open against Northern Arizona as the two teams will meet for the first time since 1947. The Orange and Blue will travel to UNLV on Sept. 8 to take on the Rebels for the first time since 1993, while Tennessee and UTEP will play each other for the third time ever and initial occasion since 1990.

UTEP will meet NM State for the 96th time on Sept. 22.

UTEP will take on seven teams that advanced to a bowl game during the 2017 season. The Miners will see NM State (New Mexico Bowl), North Texas (R+L Carriers New Orleans Bowl), LA Tech (DXL Frisco Bowl), UAB (Bahamas Bowl), Middle Tennessee (Raycom Media Camellia Bowl), WKU (AutoNation Cure Bowl) and Southern Miss (Walk-On’s Independence Bowl).

NM State, LA Tech and MT each claimed victory in their respective bowls.

Roster Breakdown
UTEP returns 48 lettermen (22 offensive, 23 defensive and three special teams) from the 2017 team. The Miners have 15 starters (seven offensive, five defensive and three special teams) coming back. The secondary returns three starters (Nik Needham, Kahani Smith and Kalon Beverly).

Needham is the top defensive returner with 59 tackles (28 solo), eight pass break-ups, one sack, one interception and one fumble recovery. The defense also returns 2017 All-Conference USA Freshman Team honoree Trace Mascorro. He started in 11 games as a freshman at nose guard.

On offense, the Miners will rely on offensive lineman Derron Gatewood. The center has started in 27 games during his collegiate career and is a three-year letter winner. Also adding depth on offensive line is Ruben Guerra. The junior made eight starts at the right tackle position last season.

There are nine programs in the FBS, including UTEP, that has sons playing for their fathers. UTEP first-year head coach Dana Dimel announced during the summer that his son, Winston, will play fullback for the Miners in 2018.

The other eight programs include UAB (head coach Bill Clark and son, Jacob), Colorado (head coach Mike Macintyre and son, Jay), Tulsa (head coach Philip Montgomery and son, Cannon), Navy (head coach Ken Niumatalolo and son, Ali’i), TCU (head coach Gary Patterson and son, Blake), Middle Tennessee (head coach Rick Stockstill and son, Brent), Clemson (head coach Dabo Swinney and son, Will) and Old Dominion (head coach Bobby Wilder and son, Derek).

Winston previously played at Kansas State (2015-17) while his father, Dana, was the offensive coordinator.

Back in the Rotation
Last season, junior Quardraiz Wadley suffered a season-ending injuries early in the year. He hurt his shoulder during 2017 spring ball and was expected to miss the season.

The Kennedale, Texas, native made a speedy recovery and made a comeback during the NM State game, where he rushed for 77 yards. He went on to produce a breakout game at Army, making his first collegiate start and rushing for a career-high 156 yards on a personal-best 28 carries (5.6 avg.). The running back scored his first career touchdown and registered his first career reception (15 yards). Wadley would once again be plagued by injuries, suffering a knee injury (WKU) and a collarbone injury (Middle Tennessee) and was forced to miss the remainder of the season. He is expected to compete for a starting spot in 2018.

Adding Depth
Kai Locksley is expected to add competition at the quarterback spot. The Iowa Western transfer was named the 2017 Spalding NJCAA Offensive Player of the Year and earned first-team All-America honors following a stellar sophomore season. He guided the Reivers to an 11-1 overall record and a victory in The Graphic Edge Bowl.

The Fort Washington, Md., native accounted for 40 total touchdowns in 2017. He threw for 2,238 yards on 176-of-265 passing (66.4 percent) with 20 passing scores and only six interceptions. The quarterback rushed for 705 yards on 112 attempts (6.3 avg.) and a team-best 20 rushing scores.

Wide receiver Justin Garrett played in 10 games at Cerritos College in 2017. He led the Falcons in receptions (38), receiving yards (592) and receiving touchdowns (five). Garrett capped the year with a season-high 153 yards on six receptions (25.5 avg.) with a campaign-best three receiving scores and a season-long 80-yard touchdown reception versus Ventura.

Gamaliel Barboza comes to UTEP from Tyler Junior College. The sophomore played in eight games and helped Tyler account for 30.3 points per game and 375.4 yards of total offense per game. On defense, CJ Reese is expected to contribute early. The senior transfer from Kansas State played three seasons for the Wildcats and saw action in eight games.

Defensive back Justin Prince led Long Beach City College with 66 tackles (22 solo) as a freshman. He added 2.5 tackles for loss, one fumble recovery, one interception and two pass break-ups.

Senior starting center Derron Gatewood was named to the Rimington Trophy Spring Watch List as announced by the selection committee on May 30. The Rimington Trophy is presented annually to the most outstanding center in NCAA Division I college football. Gatewood will be in the spotlight on the offensive line in 2018 after starting 10 games at the center position last season.

The Odessa, Texas, native also garnered All-Conference USA honorable-mention recognition last season. Gatewood made his big splash in 2016 when he started all 12 games, playing both center and right guard. The winning center will be recognized at the Rimington Trophy Presentation at the Rococo Theater in Lincoln, Neb., on Saturday, January 12, 2019.

There are six quarterbacks listed on the 2018 roster, led by senior Ryan Metz. Junior transfer Kai Locksley – the 2017 Spalding NJCAA Offensive Player of the Year at Iowa Western – brings great size (6’4, 200 pounds) to the position and sophomore Mark Torrez brings experience as he played in seven contests in 2017.

Freshmen Calvin Brownholtz and Alex Fernandes will provide depth at the position, along with junior transfer Brandon Jones from Bakersfield College.

Ryan Metz will enter his senior campaign ranked No. 10 on the program’s all-time completion list with 275. Metz is 23 completions away from the No. 9 spot. Metz has also tossed 23 scores during his career, needing one to crack the program’s top 10 list. Metz has also been responsible for 26 touchdowns, needing eight to crack the school’s top 10 list.

The El Paso native fought off injuries during his junior campaign, but showed the ability to lead as he put up nice numbers his sophomore campaign – he threw for 14 touchdowns and only four interceptions on 130-of-201 passing for 1,375 yards. Metz’s 64.7 completion percentage in 2016 ranked second on UTEP’s single-season list.

The 2018 roster will feature five capable tailbacks who can grind out yards. Junior Quardraiz Wadley played in four games in 2017, while starting in a trio of contests. Wadley missed most of the season due to injury, but did lead the team at 69.2 yards per game. Wadley gained 277 yards on 58 carries (4.8 avg.) with a score.

The Kennedale, Texas, native gained 77 yards on 19 attempts at NM State in his first action of 2017 and followed with a career-high 156 yards at Army along with his first collegiate touchdown, and also hauled in a 15-yard reception that set up a touchdown on the next play. Sophomore Joshua Fields led the team in rushing as a true freshman.

The El Paso native gained 362 yards on 89 carries and scored a pair of touchdowns. Fields’s first score came against UTSA, while he gained 44 yards. He also gained 87 yards at Middle Tennessee and another 45 against North Texas, but followed with a career-best 137 yards on 23 carries against LA Tech in the Sun Bowl.

Junior TK Powell rushed for 124 yards on 16 attempts (7.8 avg.) against LA Tech during the 2015 season. Junior Treyvon Hughes, who returned to running back from linebacker, will provide size (6’1, 237 pounds), while sophomore Ronald Awatt also provides a bruising frame (5’11, 205 pounds).

Hughes to Running Back
Treyvon Hughes enters his third season as a UTEP Miner. The junior came to UTEP in 2015 as a running back and played in nine games as a true freshman. Hughes registered a season high in carries (six) and yards (36) at Old Dominion.

In 2016, he missed the season due to injury. Hughes was switched to linebacker during the 2017 fall camp. Hughes played in all 12 games and made six starts at linebacker. He recorded 40 tackles, two quarterback hurries and 0.5 tackle for loss. Hughes returned to running back this spring.

Eddie Sinegal will start his third season with his hometown team in 2018. The graduate of Andress High School has 46 receptions for 482 yards in his career. Sinegal, though, has produced the Miners’ only 100-yard receiving game the last two years after tallying 102 yards on six receptions at LA Tech in 2016.

Erik Brown joined the UTEP football program before the midway point of last season, making four starts in nine games played. Brown recorded 151 yards on 12 receptions with a long catch of 38 yards. Brown recorded a season-high 52 yards on a trio of catches against UTSA, and registered 34 yards on two receptions at Southern Miss.

In the Nik of Time
Senior Nik Needham looks to lead the way for the Miner defense. The corner has recorded 24 pass break-ups during his career and ranks tied for second with five other players on the program’s all-time list. Needham only needs two pass break-ups to be the overall leader in UTEP history.

Last season, he registered a career-high 59 tackles (28 solo), eight pass break-ups, 4.5 tackles for loss, a sack, an interception and a fumble recovery. Needham garnered 2017 All-Conference USA honorable-mention recognition. In 2016, the Buena Park, Calif., native racked up a total of 11 pass break-ups, which marked the most in program history since 2010.

Loaded Secondary
The Miner secondary brings depth to the two-deep. Corners Kalon Beverly and Nik Needham have produced a total of 57 combined starts. Beverly started in 10 games and recorded a career-high 44 tackles (24 solo), 2.5 tackles for loss and a forced fumble in 2017.

Last season, Needham ranked second amongst defensive backs with 59 stops. Both corners notched a total of eight pass break-ups. Kahani Smith made his debut, starting in seven games last season for the Orange and Blue. The safety led UTEP’s defense with two touchdowns – a 52-yard pick-six and a 45-yard scoop-and-score.

The senior tallied 46 stops (30 solo) and three passes defended. Juniors Michael Lewis and Justin Rogers have combined for 21 starts. Lewis notched 47 tackles, while Rogers recorded 39 stops, one forced fumble, two interceptions, one quarterback hurry and two pass break-ups last season.

Rogers earned 2016 C-USA All-Freshman honors after posting 17 tackles (10 solo) and ranking second on the team with seven break-ups.

Rare Achievement
UTEP’s Kahani Smith was one of four Conference USA players to score a pair of defensive touchdowns in 2017. The effort tied for the league lead, while Smith became the first Miner since 2007 (Quintin Demps) to produce two defensive scores.

Smith took back a pick-six 52 yards at Army, and scooped up a fumble and dashed 45 yards to paydirt at North Texas. Smith was one of two defensive players to score on an interception and a fumble recovery. Marshall’s Chris Jackson returned a fumble 15 yards for a score and returned an interception 72 yards for a touchdown.

LA Tech’s Darryl Lewis and Southern Miss’ Kelsey Douglas each returned a pair of interceptions for scores in 2017.

Trace Mascorro (11 starts), Denzel Chukwukelu (eight starts), Dedrick Simpson (four starts) and Sani Buckingham (three starts) each played significant time on the defensive line last season, combining for 26 starts. Mascorro was named to the Conference USA All-Freshman team after scoring a touchdown on a fumble return at NM State, tallying 29 tackles, 4.0 tackles for loss and registering two quarterback hurries.

Chukwukelu, who is listed at 6-foot-4, 290 pounds, took up space and recorded 20 tackles with 2.0 tackles for loss in 11 games played. Simpson registered 14 stops with 1.5 tackles for loss and a quarterback sack, and Buckingham tallied nine tackles and a pair of hurries.

Senior return specialist Terry Juniel was recognized in the most-recent issue of Dave Campbell’s Texas Football Magazine. The publication listed Juniel as second team All-Texas as a special teams player. Juniel finished 2017 ranked third in Conference USA with a 25.4 kickoff return average (533 yards on 21 returns), with a long return of 59 yards at Southern Miss.

He finished with 75 yards on a pair of returns against the Golden Eagles. Juniel also showed the ability to catch the ball as he led the team in receptions (23) for 224 yards (ranked second on team). Juniel added a career-best five catches at USM and recorded a career-high 82 yards on four receptions against Arizona. The Surprise, Ariz., native also paced the Miners in all-purpose yards (812) and average per game (67.7).

Juniel also returned 13 punts, with a long punt return of 35 yards against WKU.

Junior Keynan Foster, who saw success returning kickoffs over the first four games in 2017, unfortunately missed the remainder of the season due to injury. Foster provided more speed and depth at the kickoff return position, while also making one start at the slot receiver position against Arizona. Foster returned nine kickoffs for 205 yards (22.8 avg.) and hauled in three passes for 23 yards, while also rushing for 19 yards on a pair of attempts (9.5 avg.).

After seeing time on the scout team for a pair of seasons, senior Jason Filley finally saw game action in 2017. The El Paso native and Coronado High School graduate went 2-for-3 on field goals and connected on a perfect 7-for-7 on PATs. Filley scored his first collegiate points in front of his hometown fans as he made both PAT attempts against UTSA.

Brady Viles led UTEP with 14 points in 2017. Viles connected on 11-of-12 PATs, while his first career field goal kick was a successful 53-yard attempt against Arizona. His 53-yard boot is the longest first made attempt in UTEP history during the modern era. Viles connected on a career-high 3-of-3 PATs. Viles was primarily used on kickoffs (32 KO for 1,922 yards [60.1 avg.] with 21 touchbacks).

Mitchell Crawford will compete for the starting punter position heading into the 2018 season. The native of Australia was the leading goal kicker in the Black Diamond AFL (Australian Football League) while a member of the Newcastle City Blues in 2016.

UTEP ranked first in Conference USA and seventh in the FBS in opponent kickoff return average (16.9) in 2017. UTEP ranked fourth (20.3) in 2016 and seventh (21.7) in 2015.

Next up
UTEP will have its first road test in 2018 when it plays at UNLV of the Mountain West on Sept. 7. In their last meeting, the Miners defeated the Rebels 41-24 on Sept. 11, 1993. UTEP is also making its first road trip to Las Vegas, Nev., since the 1992 season. Saturday’s kickoff is set for 7 p.m. MT/6 PT at Sam Boyd Stadium. The contest will be televised on AT&T SportsNet.

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