Miners Comeback Falls Short at FAU 28-25

BOCA RATON, FLA. – Florida Atlantic extended its home winning streak to 12 games, while UTEP’s four-game winning streak came to an end with a 28-25 loss at Florida Atlantic on Saturday night.

Trailing 28-10 in the fourth quarter, the Miners nearly pulled off a miraculous rally.  All of this happened in the final three minutes:

  • Ronald Awatt scored a five-yard rushing touchdown and converted the two-point conversion to pull UTEP within 10 (28-18) with 2:50 to go. 
  • The Miners recovered the onside kick, and Gavin Hardison threw a 49-yard bomb to Tyrin Smith to make it a three-point game (28-25) with 2:02 remaining.
  • The UTEP defense got a stop and put the ball back in the offense’s hands with under a minute to go.

But there would be no Miner magic on this night.  That will have to wait for another day.

“We just didn’t score enough points to win the football game,” UTEP Head Coach Dana Dimel said. “Obviously we couldn’t move the ball a lot until the end of the game. We need to do that the whole game. The defense played fantastic, but we didn’t play well enough to win. We played really good football and got ourselves back into and had a chance to get ourselves to make a play at the end of the game and couldn’t quite do it. I’m super proud of the way our guys played, especially coming back like that and continuing to fight. We beat [FAU] in every aspect of the game except for the scoreboard and that’s what’s really disappointing.”

The loss dropped UTEP (6-2, 3-1 C-USA) one game behind front-running no. 23/24 UTSA (8-0, 4-0 C-USA) into a tie for second place with UAB in Conference USA’s Western Division.  The Miners still control their own destiny in the division title chase with games at home versus UTSA next Saturday (Nov. 6) and at UAB on Nov. 26.

UTEP was up 10-7 late in the second quarter and was one defensive stop away from entering the third quarter with the lead and the football.  But the Owls (5-3, 3-1 C-USA) were able to convert two critical fourth downs in the final minute, including a 39-yard TD pass from N’Kosi Perry to LaJohntay Wester on a fourth and one right before halftime.  The Owls look a 14-10 lead to the locker room and scored 14 unanswered points to begin the second half.

Florida Atlantic scored 21 consecutive points overall, including the touchdown to end the first half.  Following a costly turnover by the Miners, the Owls built their lead to 21-10 when the ball bounced their way on a bang-bang play at the goal line late in the third quarter.  Perry was stripped by the Miners’ Tyrice Knight but the ball was recovered by Owl tight end Zaire Mitchell-Paden in the end zone for the score.

A one-yard rushing touchdown by James Charles made it 28-10 Owls with 10:57 left.

The Miners dominated the game statistically with 438 yards to FAU’s 280, but came up just short on the scoreboard.

Hardison threw for a career-high 321 yards as two Miners had 100 yards receiving – Smith (career-high 114) and Justin Garrett (100). 

Breon Hayward led the defense with 14 tackles, a pass breakup and quarterback hurry.

UTEP will host UTSA in the “Salute to Troops” game next Saturday (Nov. 6) at 8:15 p.m. MT.  Fans can win up to $1,000 every time the Miners score courtesy of the Speaking Rock Cash Giveaway.  An AC/DC Tribute Band will rock the Speaking Rock Pregame Party, which opens at 5 p.m.  Game tickets are available by calling (915) 747-UTEP or by visitingwww.utepminers.com/tickets.  The game will also be nationally televised on ESPN2.