Coming of Head Coach Dana Dimmel’s 7-6 breakout season expectations and excitement had risen in the 915, the Miner faithful headed into the season with high-hopes and expectations hyped by a 915 campaign and touting the first sell-out in over a decade. The Miners delivered a disappointing 1-3 start punctuated by an ugly 7 turnover loss at New Mexico.
On Friday night at the Sun Bowl in front of a sparse but rowdy 11,227 fans UTEP proved college football is a week-to-week sport and brought their 2022 season back from life-support with a dominant victory over one of the Bowl-Subdivision’s best program over the last millennium the Boise State Broncos 27-10.
Boise State won the toss electing to defer and giving UTEP the opening kickoff. UTEP got off to a shaky start going 3-and-out, but showed even on that first drive that the Miners would establish their run game.
Miner Punter Josh Sloan would shank a punt for only 7 yards giving the Broncos the ball at the UTEP 40 yard-line. The UTEP Defense would dig down deep despite starting the game defending their own territory and refuse to give up a touchdown holding Boise to a 24 yard field-goal giving Boise State their only lead of the game at 3 nothing.
The Miner offense would answer on the next drive with a 14 play drive that would last over 8:00 minutes but stall deep in Boise State territory forcing the Miners to settle for a Gavin Baechle 35 yard-field goal knotting the game at 3-3.
The Miner defensive onslaught of the Broncos would take over harassing Boise State Quarterback Hank Bachmeier, giving him limited options to trough in the secondary and demonstrating stout tackling led by Miner Line-backer Cal Wallerstedt who would finish his night with 9 tackles.
The Miner offense would establish their running game using Ronald Awatt and Deion Hankins to take pressure off of Quarterback Gavin Hardison who only had to throw the ball 11 times all night. His signature throw of the night was a 42 yard touchdown pass to freshman receiver Jeremiah Ballard that gave the Miners a 10-3 lead that they would take into the half.
Boise State would use an up tempo offense to start the second half only taking 2:00 to drive 75 yards and tie the game on Hank Bachmeier to Stefan Cobbs 15 yard touchdown pass to tie the game at 10-10.
The Miner Defense would come up big the rest of the way forcing 3 punts and a turnover on downs on the final 4 Boise possessions. The Miners would use the run game to control the clock, keep the Boise offense off the field, and keep the defense fresh.
The Miners would start with a 13 play drive that went 65 yards and took almost 8:00 minutes off the clock in the 3rd quarter retaking the lead on Gavin Baechle’s second field goal of the night at 13-10.
The Miners would exemplify complimentary football special teams unit having a steller evening (aside from the shanked punt) first with a Josh Sloan punt that would pin the the Broncos deep in their own territory a key play that put the defense in a great position to almost force a safety and setting up the Boise punt from their own 1 yard line that Punt Returner Marcus Bellon would field and take 47 yards diving for the pillion and giving the Miners a 20-10 lead. In all the special teams would account for 15 of the Miners 27 points on 3 extra points, two field goals and the punt return for a touchdown.
The fourth quarter was dominated by the Miner defense and the UTEP running game who led a knock-out punch drive for the ages holding the ball for 9:10 seconds running the ball 12 of the 13 plays with the loan pass of the drive a Gavin Hardison 16 yard pass on 3 and 12 to Tyrin Smith to keep the chains moving. The drive was punctuated by a 3 yard Reynaldo Flores touchdown run that put the Miners up 27-10 with 4:25 to play. Flores had a huge night carrying the ball 9 times for 47 yards and a touchdown and having 2 catches for 17 yards. The Miners defense would secure the victory ending the Broncos final possession on a turnover on downs.
In one night Head Coach Dana Dimmel renewed hopes on the season going into Conference USA play. The Miners established their running attack, rushing for a total of 199 yards on the night on 54 carries and the special teams had a breakout performance.
The Miner faithful saw the team get that elusive signature victory. The Miners will now have the opportunity to get that 1st victory in the Eastern Time Zone when they visit the Charlotte 49ers on Saturday.
Story by Chris Gomez