The 2022 UTEP Miner Football Campaign got off to a late start Saturday night at the Sun Bowl as a lighting delay postponed the game originally scheduled to kickoff at 7:04 pm to a 8:00 pm start.
Once the season opener got underway the first sellout crowd since 2008 would have the air taken out of the balloon as the Miners suffered costly missed opportunities falling to the visiting Mean Green of North Texas by a final score of 31 to 13.
In the last ever Conference USA meeting dropped passes, botched snaps, and missed field goals proved to be the difference in the game. North Texas also used their third down efficiency going 6-12 on third downs to keep the UTEP Defense on the field and claim a victory.
The night started off with the Miners seemingly moving with relative ease as their first 3 drives would all go deep into Mean Green territory but in the end they would only have 7 points to show for it.
The first drive ended with a missed Gavin Baechle field goal, on the ensuing UTEP possession the Miners would drive down to the UNT 3 yard line only to have the snap go over Quarterback Gavin Hardison’s head on fourth and goal.
The Miners would finally find success on the next drive, a 5 play 91 yard drive that ended with a Gavin Hardison finding Tyrin Smith on a 32 yard touchdown pass with 13:58 left in the 2nd quarter. The Mean Green would take just under 4:00 minutes to answer with an 88 yard drive ending in a Touchdown Pass from Austin Aune to Tommy Bush notting the game at 7-7.
The Miners would have an impressive 84 yard drive of their own that would go all the way to the UNT 12 yard line before settling for a 29 yard field goal to regain the lead at 10-7 with 5:14 left in the half. North Texas would quickly answer, going 75 yards in 9 plays with a 8 yard Oscar Adaway III touchdown run to take a 14 to 10 lead.
UTEP would have a chance to regain the lead before the half as Gavin Hardison would escape pressure and throw a long pass to Tyrin Smith that would have been a sure touchdown but was dropped.
The Miners would be gifted a fumble in Mean Green territory with less than a minute to go but could only get a field goal before the half cutting the lead to 14-13.
North Texas would fully take control of the game, receiving the second half kickoff and driving 75 yards in 12 plays with another Austin Aune touchdown pass to extend the lead to 21-13.
The final 4 possessions for the Miners would all end with the UTEP turning the ball over on downs each time while trying to play from behind. Meanwhile North Texas would add a field goal and a final Austin Aune touchdown pass to Jake Roberts to extend their lead to 31 to 13 which would be the final score.
Looking at the stat sheet both teams had almost identical numbers UTEP had 400 yards of total offense to 399 for North Texas. Each team would lose one fumble, UTEP had 293 yards passing to North Texas’ 236 and the Mean Green would have the edge in rushing yardage at 163 to the Miners 107. The difference in the game turned out to be North Texas ability to execute in the red zone.
The Miners will have no time to dwell on the home opener as they will now be faced with their first road trip of the season, a visit to Norman to face the 9th ranked Oklahoma Sooners.
After the game Head Coach Dana Dimmel acknowledged the teams frustration on their execution errors and pointed out it would be a long season with plenty of time for his squad to get better.
Chris Gomez Reporting