RUSTON, La. — UTEP cut a 20-point deficit down to six with about 10 minutes remaining, but the Miners couldn’t complete the comeback and stumbled at LA Tech, 41-31, on Saturday night.

After trailing 30-10 at halftime, UTEP sliced the deficit to 30-24 on a 44-yard pass from Gavin Hardison to Trent Thompson with 10:18 to go.  But the Bulldogs answered with a four-play, 87-yard TD drive, as Parker McNeil threw a 15-yard scoring pass to Smoke Harris that put the game away.

“I liked the way – when we were down 20 at the half – came back and fought and did some really good things there in the second half and got the game within one score,” UTEP Head Coach Dana Dimel said. “But we have to get better scoring more in the redzone, which is really obvious. We have to finish drives, eliminate turnovers and not give up the big plays. That was a big part of the game. [LA Tech] did a better job making less mistakes and making more plays.”

The Miners finished a demanding stretch of seven games in seven weeks with a 3-4 record, 1-2 in Conference USA.  They will be home for three of the next four contests as they try to reach back-to-back bowls for the first time in 17 years.

It was UTEP’s fifth straight loss at LA Tech (2-3, 1-0 C-USA).

UTEP finished the night with three drives that ended inside the Bulldog 15 but produced no points, and another that resulted in a field goal.

The Miners fell behind 30-10 following a first half riddled with turnovers.  The Bulldogs converted three UTEP giveaways into 14 points.  Meanwhile, McNeil dissected the Miner defense, completing 16-of-20 passes for 187 yards and three touchdowns.  The Bulldogs had 260 yards of offense in the first half.

The second half was a much better performance by the Miners, who outscored the Bulldogs 21-11 (all in the fourth quarter) while limiting them to 120 yards.  But the damage had been done.

UTEP turned over the football four times on the night, leading to 17 points for the Bulldogs.  Hardison threw three interceptions.

The Miners had success running the football, averaging 4.8 yards per carry as Ronald Awatt (66) and Deion Hankins (64) combined for 130 yards on the ground.  Hardison attempted a career-high 51 passes and threw for 320 yards.  The Miners’ 501 yards of offense were their most in a Conference USA game since 2016.

McNeil passed for 266 yards and four TD’s for LA Tech with no interceptions.  Tre Harris had 126 yards receiving, and Smoke Harris scored two touchdowns.

The defensive standout for UTEP was Kobe Hylton with 10 tackles, a tackle for loss and a forced fumble.

UP NEXT

Following a bye week, the Miners return to the Sun Bowl for back-to-back games against Florida Atlantic (Oct. 22, 2 p.m. MT) and Middle Tennessee (Oct. 29, 7 p.m. MT).  The matchup with Florida Atlantic is “Military Day.”  Fans can win up to $1,000 every time the Miners score with the Speaking Rock Cash Giveaway.  The free Speaking Rock Pregame Party Zone opens at 11 a.m.  The game is sponsored by Pepsi and Southwest Chevy Dealers.  For tickets, visit www.UTEPMiners.com/Tickets or call (915) 747-UTEP.​