Running backs Nathan Jeffery, Josh Bell and Brandon Polk combined to rush for 245 yards in the UTEP football team’s third Saturday scrimmage of the spring in the Sun Bowl.
Jeffery finished with 118 yards on 17 carries, including a 70-yard touchdown run. Bell contributed 67 yards on 17 attempts and Polk rushed six times for 60 yards.
The Miner offense produced three touchdowns in all, including a 57-yard pass from Carson Meger to Jacob Garcia in the early stages of the scrimmage. Bell accounted for the last score on a one-yard plunge into the end zone.
The defense also got into the scoring act as cornerback Adrian James and safety Leon Hayes both registered interceptions for touchdowns. James picked off Blaire Sullivan and ran 30 yards for a TD, and Hayes’ 40-yard scoring run was the end result of a turnover by Meger.
“Hayes is playing great,” UTEP coach Mike Price said. “He got a pick today and he has been making tackles like crazy. He looks like he can be a guy who can play for us next year.”
Nick Lamaison completed 9-of-14 passes for 83 yards to lead all UTEP quarterbacks, and Meger finished 4-of-8 for 69 yards.
The defense recorded four takeaways, including tackle Germard Reed’s interception of a tipped pass by Lamaison and a fumble recovery by linebacker Aubrey Alexius.
“It was a good scrimmage,” Price said. “It was hard hitting. We’re tackling better in the open field and we’re running the ball better.
“It was a little messy at times on offense. We still have some young guys in the offensive line who are learning and they got dominated by a couple of the veteran players inside. I like the way we’re hitting and running on defense. Even though there were a couple of long passes completed, only one was a busted coverage. The safeties and the corners are making better tackles and we’re improving in the open field. We’ve been working on it so much.”
The Miners will now turn their attention to the final week of spring drills, capped by the Orange and Blue game on Friday at 7 p.m. in the Sun Bowl.
“We had a 30-play scrimmage on Thursday and a 100-play scrimmage today, so our guys should be sore and a little bit bruised up,” Price said. “We’ll get them in the training room.”
The Miners will take a couple days to recover before getting back to work with afternoon practices on Tuesday and Thursday.