The UTEP Football team knew they would have an uphill battle, but never closed to closer to within 6 in a 57-28 loss Saturday in the Sun Bowl. The game marked the final home game for 22 UTEP Seniors.
G.J. Kinne threw three touchdown passes as Tulsa piled up 500 total yards.
The victory set up the Golden Hurricane (8-3, 7-0 Conference USA) to meet No. 11 Houston on Friday for a spot in the conference championship game.
UTEP's Joe Banyard rushed 20 times for 91 yards and a touchdown for the Miners (5-6, 2-5). Leilyon Myers had two rushing TDs and Tate Smith one.
Mike Price after the game:
"That certainly isn’t the way we anticipated the game to go. I think he kick return was a big momentum boost for them. They didn’t do anything different the second half of the game, thy made some plays in offense and it just wasn’t in the cards for our team. We have a great group of kids and they played hard and I wouldn’t like to coach anyone else. I am proud to be their coach and they are a great group. "
Who will start on Friday?
"It’s to soon to noon. Nick didn’t suit up today and we thought he might have to today, but it’s to soon to know yet. I would say Carson is the guy right now, but it just depends if Nick gets healthy. "
More notes from the game:
The interception by junior DB Richard Spencer in the first quarter was the first of his career.
The safety scored by the Miners in the second quarter was their first since Oct. 9, 2010 at Rice, when the Owls were calledfor intentional grounding in the end zone.
The blocked punt in the second quarter was the Miners’ second of the season. The first came at Tulane on Oct. 15.
The Miners have three blocked kicks this season, tying their second-top total of the Mike Price era. They had five in 2004 and also had three in 2007.
Senior DB Antwon Blake has two blocked kicks this season, most by a Miner player since Cornelius Brown had two in 2008.
Wide receivers Julio Lopez and Jordan Leslie had career highs for receiving in the first half alone. Their previous bests were 61 yards (Lopez) and 64 yards (Leslie).
Tulsa wins in El Paso for the first time in the Mike Price era (3-1 record), and the victory by the Golden Hurricane snaps a string of seven straight wins by the home team in this series.
UTEP’s streak of four straight November wins in the Sun Bowl was ended.
The Miners drop to 4-2 this season when rushing for 100 yards or more.
The Miners finished with season-highs for penalties (6) and penalty yards (66) in a Conference USA game. Their previous highs were five penalties for 37 yards versus Southern Miss.
The Miners will close out the regular season at UCF on Friday (Nov. 25) at 5 p.m. MT. The game will be nationally televised by CBS Sports Network.