In Front of of an announced crowd of just over 31,000 in The Sunbowl the UTSA Roadrunners were just too much for the Miners, handing them their first home loss of the season by a final score of 44 to 23.
UTSA only took 2 plays and 17 seconds to shell-shock the Miners Defense and virtually make the largest crowd in recent history out of the game when Sincere McCormic would break off a 75 Yard Touchdown run giving the Roadrunners an early 7-0 lead.
This would be the beginning of a long evening for a highly touted defensive unit that would have no answers for the UTSA Offense. The Roadrunners would score on all 8 of their offensive possessions and would never have an official punt during the night.
Complicating matters for the Miner Defense was the offense who could not get a first down until their 3rd possession late in the first quarter. Despite the offense being inept the Defense was able to hold UTSA to two field goals (51,31) keeping the game within reach when the Miners would finally score off a 35 yard Touchdown pass from Gavin Hardison to Tyron Smith making the game 13-6 a manageable 13-6.
The Miners would prove to be their own enemy on special teams missing the extra point, a short field goal, shanking a punt to give UTSA excellent field position and finally having a costly neutral zone infraction that would negate the only punt the Roadrunners had on the evening and really end any momentum UTEP had to get back into the game.
UTSA would have 2 Touchdown drives in the 2nd quarter to put the Roadrunners up 30 to 6 and keep the ball most of the 2nd quarter. UTEP was able to get the ball back with :40 seconds to play in the half and to their credit drove the ball 43 yards to set up a career long 51 yard field goal by Gavin Baechle to end the half and cut the lead to 3 touchdowns at 30-9.
The Miners would receive 2nd half kickoff and would have a promising drive that would go all the way to the UTSA 3 yard line, however Gavin Hardison’s pass would fall incomplete at the goaline missing an opportunity to cut the lead to two scores.
The backbreaker was the Roadrunners would take over on downs and drive the ball 96 yards in 4:22 and score on a 7 yard touchdown pass from Harris to Zakhari Franklin making it a four touchdown lead at 37-9 and virtually sealing an chance for a come-from-behind victory for the Miners.
The moment seemed too big for the upstart Miners, their largest home crowd in years, the 16th ranked team in the nation, national television and the team struggled to find its rhythm on defense.
UTSA’s flawless offensive play led by Quarterback Frank Harris was executed with surgical precision at times converting 3rd downs keeping their defense fresh, keeping the talented Miner defense on the field. Harris and his receiving core were perfectly insync, finishing his night with compilations to 8 different receivers, going 22-34 for 286 yards and 2 touchdowns (no turnovers).
Bright Spots for the overmatch Miner team is the fact that they continued to fight throughout the night. The crowd looked as good and lively as any in recent memory and did not disappoint in front of a national audience, and the continued emergence of wide receiver Tyrin Smith who had 3 big catches, two touchdowns, and finished with 91 yards.
The Storyline going forward will be if the Miners can put back-to-back losses in the rearview mirror and recapture the magic from the first half of the season for the final 3 regular season games.
The Miners have to travel to Denton Texas for the third straight year to face a North Texas Team that has suddenly won 2 in a row. UTEP will also await news if they will be with their premiere playmaker receiver Jacob Cowing who left the game with a banged up shoulder in the 3rd quarter.
The next 3 games will be a gut check to see how far this program has really come.
Chris Gomez Reporting