SAN ANTONIO, Texas (KTSM) – Playing in their first game in three weeks, UTEP knocked off some rust in a 52-21 loss to UTSA on Saturday at the Alamodome.
To no fault of their own, the Miners have played just three games in the last eight weeks after two home games were postponed (Southern Miss and North Texas) and another road game was canceled (FIU) due to COVID-19 outbreaks to their opponents. Next week’s game against UAB has also been canceled.
The Miners (3-4, 0-3 C-USA) came out swinging in the first half. Gavin Hardison connected with Jacob Cowing for a 52-yard touchdown in the first quarter, the sophomore’s first receiving touchdown of the season. Calvin Brownholtz added a rushing touchdown in the second quarter, his first collegiate touchdown, giving UTEP a 14-10 lead.
Back-and-forth action ensued with six lead changes in the opening half. Deion Hankins capped off a 95-yard kick return by Walter Dawn Jr. with his seventh rushing touchdown of the season to give UTEP a 21-17 lead late in the second quarter. It was all Roadrunners after that, including a 35-yard rushing touchdown from quarterback Frank Harris that gave UTSA a 24-21 lead at the half.
UTSA (5-4, 3-2 C-USA) would score touchdowns on five consecutive possessions — 35 unanswered points — en route to the 52-21 win. Harris threw for 312 yards and three touchdowns, adding another two scores on the ground, while Brenden Brady rushed for 124 yards out of the Roadrunners’ backfield.
The Miners’ defense, who came into the game undermanned according to UTEP head coach Dana Dimel, had no answer for Harris and the fast-paced UTSA offense. It also made matters worse when senior cornerback Duron Lowe was ejected from the game in the second quarter for throwing a punch.
“Once a team gets some momentum on you, it changes everything and UTSA really took advantage of that situation, as they should have,” said Dimel. “It made us venerable, but I wanted to play this game. We get hit by things and people back out of games. I don’t want to back out of games. I want to play unless we just get devastated.”
UTSA tallied a program-record 600 yards of total offense against the UTEP defense that came into the game ranked No. 20 in the nation in total defense.
“The first half had some good things to it from both sides of the football, but the two scores at the end [of the half] really deflated our defense and we never responded back after that,” said Dimel. “We had issues stopping them in every form and fashion. They could run, pass, whatever it may be — they only punted one time. It didn’t look anything like the Miner defense all year. I’m very disappointed about that.”
Dimel acknowledged the lack of games has hindered his football team, but there was no excuse to the lack of execution for the Miners in the second half. Over the first seven games of the season, UTEP has scored just three points in third quarters.
“We didn’t play very good. UTSA — hats off to them and they played well, but we didn’t play anywhere like we should or could or have. It didn’t look anything like our team had looked all season long,” said Dimel. “I don’t know where that performance came from and we have to get it fixed.”
With the UAB game canceled, UTEP’s next scheduled game is Saturday, Nov. 28 at Rice. However, Dimel hinted the Miners are looking to schedule an opponent for next week.
“I’d like to play a game if it makes sense because you can see the affect it has had [lack of games] on my football team,” said Dimel. “I don’t like all these practices and there are no games. We need to play.”