The UTEP Miners were not able to keep pace with the UNLV Running Rebels on a breezy Saturday Night in the Sun Bowl. The Rebels ran for over 307 led by Ja’den Tomas who ran for 100 yards on 13 carries including 4 touchdowns.
The Miner defense uncharacteristically allowed more than 300 yards rushing and struggled to get off the field on 3rd downs, as UNLV went 10 for 17 on 3rd down ultimately allowing 45 points. The defense was not added by the offense having 3 drives end on 3 and outs at inopportune times and had 3 turnovers on Gavin Hardison Interceptions keeping the Miner defense on the field.
After going 3-and-out on their first possession the Rebels would open the scoring after blocking a Josh Sloane Punt and going 12 yards for the score to take a 7-0 lead. The Miners would answer, going 75 yards on 11 plays to tie the game when Gavin Hardison would score on a 1-Yard “Miner Scrum” to tie the game at 7. The tie would be short-lived as UNLV would only need 1:06 to go 75 yards on 3 running plays and re-take the lead at 14-7 late in the 1st Quarter.
The Miners would tie the game in the 2nd quarter on another 10 play drive that ended the same as the first touchdown drive with Gavin Hardison scoring on another 1 yard Miner Scrum to tie the game at 14. On the very next possession UNLV would take the ball to the Miner 1-yard-line where running back Donavyn Lester would score to give the Rebels a 21-14 lead. Gavin Hardison would through his first costley interception of the game trying to answer giving the Rebels the ball on the Miner 32 yard line were Ja’den Tomas would score to extend the UNLV lead to 28-14 going into the half.
The Miners would come out of the 2nd half with an impressive 9 play 75 yard drive capped off with a 12-yard Torrance Burges Touchdown Run to cut the lead to 28-21. On the ensuing UNLV possession Miner Defensive End Praise Amaewhule would come up with a big interception to stop the UNLV momentum. The momentum swing would be short-lived as the Miners would give the ball back after going 3-and-out and being unable to capitalize on the turnover opportunity. UNLV would ball back and end any opportunity for the Miner comeback scoring on a 32 yard touchdown run by Courtney Reese to push their lead to 42-28. The Miners would have the remainder of their drives end on turnovers or punts killing the Sun Bowl crowd and falling to UNLV 45-28.
The Miners off to a disappointing 1-4 start on the season, now have a short week to regroup before playing a Friday night game at home versus a Louisiana Tech team that will come into the Sun Bowl lead by former Boise State Quarterback Hank Brochmier whose career with the Broncos ended almost a year to the day on a Friday night in the Sun Bowl with the Miner upset of Boise State. The question will be can the Miners regroup and put together a competitive Conference USA Season or continue to underachieve.
Story by Chris Gomez