UTEP is looking to bounce back from a slow start, as it will host winless NM State in the 99th Battle of I-10 on Saturday, Sept. 10. The Miners and Aggies are set to kick off at 7 p.m. in the Sun Bowl.
Story via UTEP Athletics
Saturday will be “Noche Latina” as the Miners are hosting the Aggies for the first time since 2018. UTEP last defeated NM State in the El Paso during the 2016 meeting.
UTEP (0-2, 0-1 C-USA) is coming off a 45-13 setback at no. 9 Oklahoma on Sept. 3, while NM State dropped its second straight game during a 38-0 loss at Minnesota on Sept. 1.
“I see plenty of talent from their team, you know, scouting report wise. I see a lot of talent out there. I really, truly do. And I see a team that is playing hard,” UTEP Head Coach Dana Dimel said. “They’ve got a lot of talent and so they’re just gelling as a football team. And so, you know, that’s the scouting report on them right now. They got their two quarterbacks that they’re playing. They’re playing both the freshman and the junior college transfer. Both of those guys got potential to be very good players. They got good, talented receivers. They have some talented running backs as well. So, they got some players. You know, I just think they’re trying they’re just a couple games into their system right now and I think they’re going to continue to get better as the year goes along. And then defensively they got the linebackers that are very good players for them. They got a lot of guys up front, on the defensive front, they play quite a few guys in the secondary, but we just look at their overall athleticism on defense. I think they’ve got a good core base to work with their defense and they so that’s the overall personnel scouting report on that. From our standpoint.”
Fans can tune into KLAQ 95.5 to hear the action with “The Voice of the Miners” Jon Teicher calling the action with former UTEP LB Jacob Boggs (1999, 2000) providing analysis and Mando Medina on the sideline. The contest will be streamed on ESPN+ for the first time this season as Erik Elken is on the mic along with former UTEP QB Mike Perez providing analysis.
UTEP (0-2, 0-1) vs. NM State (0-2)
Date: Saturday, Sept. 10
Time: 7:00 p.m. MT
Location: El Paso, Texas
Venue: Sun Bowl Stadium (45,971)
Twitter Updates: @UTEPFB
Sponsor: Las Palmas Del Sol
PxP: Erik Elken
Analyst: Mike Perez
Radio: KLAQ 95.5 FM
PxP: Jon Teicher
Analyst: Jacob Boggs
Sideline: Mando Medina
SERIES VS. NM STATE
UTEP leads the all-time series 58-38-2 after last season’s 30-3 victory at NM State on Aug. 28, 2021. UTEP is 38-17-1 all-time in the 915. The Miners snapped a three-game skid to the Aggies after that victory in which Ronald Awatt rushed for 74 yards on 11 carries and a touchdown and Deion Hankins grinding out 51 yards on six attempts and a TD. Gavin Hardison threw for 249 yards on 11-of-16 passing and a score. Jacob Cowing torched the NMSU secondary for 158 yards on five receptions and a TD. DE Jadrian Taylor recorded a sack, along with DE Praise Amaewhule, LB James Neal and DE Deylon Williams. The Miners last defeated the Aggies in the Sun Bowl on Sept. 3, 2016, in a 38-22 contest. Aaron Jones rushed for 249 yards and two scores. Cole Freytag caught a team-high four ball for game-high 95 yards and a score. After UTEP had reeled off eight consecutive wins – a series high – from 2009 to 2016, NM State peeled off three straight games from 2017 to 2019.
SCOUTING NM STATE
The Aggies are coming off a 38-0 loss at Minnesota on Sept.1. It was a homecoming for current first-year head coach Jerry Kill who directed the Gophers from 2011 to 2015. NM State was held to 91 yards of total offense, while Minnesota ran up 485 yards. The Aggies got 33 plays off. NM State opened the season with a 23-12 loss at home against Nevada. The Wolfpack took a 17-2 halftime lead before the Aggies outscored them, 10-6, in the second half. NM State QB Gavin Frakes went 9-of-13 with 143 yards, a TD and INT. WR Kordell David reeled in seven passes for 56 yards and a score. K Ethan Albertson added a 46-yard FG it the fourth. NM State is giving up 30.5 points per game and averaging 6.0 points per contest. The Aggies have been outmatched 742 total yards to 394. NM State is averaging 197.0 yards per game. QB Diego Pavia leads the team with 50 yards on eight attempts, while Justice Powers has a team-high 108 yards receiving on three receptions. David leads the team with seven receptions. Frakes has 186 yards on 11-of-20 passing and two picks. Pavia has thrown three interceptions. On the defensive side of the ball, DB Bryce Jackson leads with 17 tackles and pass breakup. LB Chris Ojoh has 13 stops with a pass breakup and 1.0 tackle for loss.
FIRST DOWN, MINERS!
UTEP ranks tied for fifth nationally with 48 first downs. The Miners gained 26 first downs at no. 9 OU, the most since Dec. 11, 2020, at North Texas (27). UTEP also ranks second in C-USA behind FAU (51).
300+ YARDS TOTAL OFFENSE IN 16 STRAIGHT GAMES
UTEP, dating back to Dec. 11, 2020, has hit 300+ yards of total offense in 16 straight games after gaining 316 yards of total offense at no. 9 OU on Sept. 3. UTEP also tallied 400 yards against North Texas in Saturday’s season opener. The streak started on Dec. 11, 2020, against North Texas. It’s the longest streak since the Miners did so in 17 straight games from Oct. 9, 1999, to Nov. 11, 2000.
TYRIN SETS CAREER HIGH IN CATCHES
Redshirt sophomore WR Tyrin Smith recorded a career-high eight reception at no. 9 OU on Sept. 3. He gained 71 against the Sooners. His previous best with seven catches a week prior against UNT. Smith is tied for the team lead with 15 receptions and 198 receiving yards.
BIG GAME FROM TYRIN
Tyrin Smith recorded his second career 100-yard game against North Texas on Aug. 27. Smith, a 5-7 speedster, tallied a career-high 127 yards on a career-best seven receptions against the Mean Green. He added his fifth-career TD on a 32-yard score in the second quarter. Smith also hauled in a 49-yard catch during the first quarter.
TYRIN RUNNING THE BALL
Tyrin Smith registered his first career rush, taking the ball 14 yards on a reverse to the right during the third quarter. Smith finished with a career-high 141 all-purpose yards.
REY’S NUMBERS INCREASING
Redshirt senior WR Reynaldo Flores entered the 2022 season with 277 career receiving yards on 19 receptions, including 204 on 13 catches in 2021. Flores, after recording seven receptions for a team-high 76 yards, is tied for the team lead in receptions (15) and receiving yards (198).
REY SHINES ON ‘915 NIGHT’
Reynaldo Flores recorded his first career 100-yard game in his third career start. The 915 product set career highs in receptions (eight) and receiving yards (122) against North Texas on Aug. 27. Flores added a 38-yard reception in the first quarter against the Mean Green. His previous highs were four receptions (at Southern Miss in 2021) and 53 receiving yards (vs. Fresno State in 2021).
A PAIR HITTING THE CENTURY MARK
UTEP had a pair of 100-yard receivers (Reynaldo Flores – 122 yards, Tyrin Smith – 127 yards) against North Texas on Aug. 27. The Miners last accomplished that at FAU on Oct. 30, 2021, when Smith (114 yards) joined Justin Garrett (109 yards).
NOTE ON AKHARAIYI, BALLARD, BALLON & CLARKE
Sophomore WR Kelly Akharaiyi, redshirt freshmen WR Jeremiah Ballard, sophomore WR Marcus Bellon and Jostein Clarke combined for 11 catches and 92 yards at no. 9 OU on Sept. 3. Akharaiyi set season highs in receptions (four) and yards (36), and Ballard set career bests in receptions (five) and yards (39). Clarke registered his first career catch – a 13-yard reception, while Bellon also chalked up his first reception as a Miner – a four-yard catch.
CAREER BEST IN COMPLETIONS
Redshirt junior QB Gavin Hardison set a career high with 26 pass completions at no. 9 OU on Sept. 3. Hardison surpassed his previous best of 23 completions done twice (at FAU, vs. Rice in 2021).
MOVING UP THE TD LIST
Gavin Hardison threw his 25th career touchdown in the second quarter, a 32-yard toss to Tyrin Smith against North Texas on Aug. 27. Hardison ranks 10th on the program’s all-time touchdown passing list. Ryan Metz (26 TD) ranks ninth, while Pat Hegarty (26 TD) ranks eighth.
RACKING UP PASSING YARDS
Gavin Hardison has thrown for 537 yards in 2022. Hardison now has 5,508 yards passing in his career. Hardison ranks fifth on the program’s all-time passing yards list. Sammy Garza (6,130 yards) ranks fourth, while Billy Stevens (6,485) is third.
GAVIN GOES OVER 700 PASSING ATTEMPS
Gavin Hardison has 90 passing attempts in 2022, giving him 707 in his career. He ranks sixth on the program’s all-time attempts list. Rocky Perez (716 attempts) ranks fifth, while Sammy Garza (817) ranks fourth.
GAVIN RANKS SIXTH IN COMPLETIONS
Gavin Hardison has allied 47 completions in 2022 after completing a career-high 26 at OU. Hardison now has 380 in his career. Hardison ranks sixth on the program’s all-time list. Rocky Perez (400) ranks fifth, while Billy Stevens (426) is fourth.
AWATT’S RETURN TO NORMAN
Redshirt senior RB Ronald Awatt made his second appearance at no. 9 OU after playing in Norman, Okla., in 2017. Awatt got the start this time around and scored on a two-yard rush into the end zone during the second quarter.
AWATT SCORES TD NO. 10
Ronald Awatt scored 10th career touchdown at no. 9 OU on Sept. 3. Awatt got in the end zone on a two-yard skip, giving him his first points of 2022. Last season, Awatt ran for six scores and in 2020 found the pay dirt on a trio of occasions.
MOST GAMES PLAYED IN PROGRAM HISTORY
Walter Dawn Jr., after missing the final 10 games of last season, returned to the gridiron, and played in his 51st game, the most by any Miner in program history. Dawn Jr. made his second start at no. 9 OU on Sept. 3, catching two passes for nine yards.
CAL’S BREAKOUT GAME
Redshirt junior LB Cal Wallerstedt recorded a career-high five tackles and registered his first career sack and tackle for loss at no. 9 OU on Sept. 3. Wallerstedt has posted seven tackles so far in 2022.
Senior LB Tyrice Knight is averaging 10.0 tackles per game, ranking second in Conference USA and third nationally. Knight registered his eighth career double-digit tackle game on Aug. 27 against North Texas. Knight led the defensive efforts with 11 tackles, including seven solo stops. Knight followed that with nine stops at no. 9 OU on Sept. 3.
PRAISE’S SECOND FUMBLE RECOVERY
Redshirt junior DE Praise Amaewhule recovered his second ever fumble against North Texas on Aug. 27. Amaewhule’s first career fumble recovery came against the same program when he recovered one against the Mean Green on Dec. 11, 2020.
Sophomore S Kobe Hylton, a transfer from Louisiana, nearly recorded double-digit stops (nine) in his Miner debut on Aug. 27 against UNT. He followed with eight tackles at no. 9 OU on Sept. 3. On the season, Hylton ranks second on the team with 17 tackles. Hylton added a team-best 2.5 tackles for loss against the Mean Green.
Sophomore CB Josiah Allen (Sacramento City College) and sophomore CB Latrez Shelton made their UTEP debuts on Saturday night against UNT. Allen tallied six tackles, while Shelton recorded a pass breakup. At no. 9 OU, Allen recorded one tackle, while Shelton posted his first career stops (two) and his second pass breakup of the season against the Sooners.
JUST KICKIN’ IT
Senior K/P Gavin Baechle nailed a career-long 54-yard field at no. 9 OU in the fourth quarter on Sept. 3. Baechle’s previous long was a 50-yard make on Nov. 30, 2019, against Rice.
IT’S BEEN A WHILE
Gavin Baechle became the first UTEP kicker since 2010, to make two field goals of at least 48 yards or more in the same game. Baechle hit a 48-yard attempt in the second quarter at no. 9 OU, while making a career-long 54-yard FG against the Sooners. The previous Miner to do so was Dakota Warren, who connected on FGs of 55 and 50 yards against Memphis on Sept. 25, 2010.
BAECHLE IN 2022
Gavin Baechle is tied first in Conference USA with four made field goals and ranks tied second nationally. Baechle also ranks fourth in C-USA with 14 total points (4 FG, 2 XP).
MOVING UP THE FGM LIST
Senior K/P Gavin Baechle connected on two more field goals (54, 48) to bring him to 40 career makes, moving him into a tie for third on the school’s all-time list with Jay Mattox (40 FGM). Ricky Bishop (42) ranks second. Reagan Schneider (50) is the all-time leader.
GAVIN’S CAREER POINTS
Gavin Baechle tallied seven points (2 FG, XP) at no. 9 OU on Sept. 3. Baechle now has 201 career points and ranks fifth on the program’s all-time points list for kickers. Marshall Young (202) ranks fourth, while Ricky Bishop (222) ranks third. Jay Mattox (257) is second and Reagan Schneider leads the all-time list (287).
Gavin Baechle has made two extra points in 2022, giving him 81 in his career. Baechle is tied sixth with Keith Robinson on the program’s all-time PATs list. Jose Martinez (89) ranks fifth. Reagan Schneider leads the all-time list with 137 career PATs.
THE PUNTER FROM DOWN UNDER
Sophomore P Joshua Sloan is averaging 42.7 yards on six punts (256 yards) this season. It’s an improvement so far from his previous two seasons. Sloan averaged 39.1 yards per game in 2020 and improved that to a 39.5 average. He’s booted a season-long punt of 48 yards at no. 9 OU. On the season, Sloan has placed two inside the 20-yard line.
CUTTING DOWN ON PENALTIES
UTEP has cut down on its penalties from last season, ranking second in Conference USA in penalty yards per game (50.0) and third in penalties per game (5.5). Last season, UTEP ranked 13th in C-USA in penalty yards per game (74.4) and penalties per game (8.4).
UTEP will take I-25 to take on New Mexico on Sept. 17. The Miners and Lobos are playing in their 80th meeting, as kickoff is set for 6 p.m. The contest will be streamed on the Mountain West Network and can be heard on 95.5 KLAQ and the UTEP Miners app. The Miners rallied from 13-3 down halftime to defeat the Lobos, 20-13, on Sept. 25, 2021.
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