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