EL PASO, TEXAS (KTSM) – The star of UTEP’s 24-14 season-opening win over Stephen F. Austin on Saturday night was easily El Paso’s all-time leading rusher, Deion Hankins. While the Parkland graduate’s two-touchdown performance was impressive, quarterback Gavin Hardison was not to be outdone in his first career start for the Miners.
The redshirt sophomore from Hobbs, New Mexico, was solid for much of the night, leading multiple long scoring drives. For the game, Hardison was 17-28 (60%) for 212 yards and a touchdown to Justin Garrett, making one mistake on a fourth quarter interception.
Hardison distributed the ball to five different receivers on the evening, showing off a solid chemistry with Jacob Cowing, who caught seven passes for 116 yards. Garrett also had five receptions for 52 yards and the touchdown.
“I thought the guys around me did a great job,” said Hardison. “The offensive line played great and our skill position guys made a lot of big plays and helped out. It was a good first game.”
While he wasn’t perfect by his own admission, Hardison certainly did enough to prove he deserves the starting job and head coach Dana Dimel was pleased with his performance.
“In his first start, first game, when we only had 15 practices and we usually have 24 by now, there were a lot more positives that he did than negatives so I was pleased with that part of it,” said Dimel.”
With the first-start jitters now gone, Hardison has an even tougher test in game number two. He’ll lead the Miners on the road to play the Texas Longhorns on Saturday, Sept. 12. The game kicks off at 6 p.m. in Austin and can be seen on the Longhorn Network.