ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. – New Mexico built a 20-3 halftime lead and kept UTEP out of the end zone until late in the game, as the Lobos knocked off the Miners, 27-10, on Saturday night at University Stadium.
The Lobos (2-1) gained 217 yards to the Miners’ 76 over the first two periods. They scored 17 points in the first 20 minutes of the game — including a 22-yard interception for a score by Reco Hannah — to take a two-touchdown (17-3) lead. They added a 51-yard field goal by George Steinkamp right before the break.
In the second half, the UTEP defense limited New Mexico to 82 yards. But it was a lost night on offense for the Miners (1-3) as they committed seven turnovers, their most in a game since 2005.
“We were put into bad situations with the turnovers and got [New Mexico] momentum. But when it was all said and done, our defense played really good football,” UTEP Head Coach Dana Dimel said. “Our offense has to be a lot more protective of the football, and we have to make plays. We didn’t make any plays tonight and we have to make those catches when throwing the ball. We didn’t perform at the level we needed to win the ball game. The challenge now is to get those things fixed and handle the adversity to our start. We have a lot of football ahead of us, but we need to improve.”
UTEP quarterback Gavin Hardison completed his first three pass attempts before misfiring on nine straight. He was 8-for-23 for 73 yards with two picks in the first half. Hardison entered the contest with no interceptions in 117 pass attempts over the first three games.
Epitomizing the Miners’ offensive frustration, Tyrin Smith had a career-long 76-yard reception early in the third quarter – but he was stripped at the goal line, leading to a touchback and Lobos’ ball.
Smith had a career-high 183 yards on eight catches.
UTEP scored its lone touchdown with a 4:44 remaining when Deion Hankins barreled in for a one-yard score. That made it 20-10, but the Miners were unable to recover the onside kick.
Hardison finished 20-of-45 passing for 299 yards with three interceptions for the Miners. Calvin Brownholtz came on late in relief and also threw a pick. The Miners lost three fumbles.
The Lobos only scored seven points off the seven UTEP turnovers as the Miner defense stepped up repeatedly. New Mexico had two turnovers, leading to seven Miner points.
Tyrice Knight and Kobe Hylton led the Miners with 14 and 10 tackles, respectively. Cal Wallerstedt had two sacks.
UTEP finished with 353 yards of offense to New Mexico’s 299. Lobo quarterback Miles Kendrick finished 13-of-19 for 111 yards, and Nate Jones rushed 21 times for 83 yards and a TD.
UTEP returns to the Sun Bowl to take on perennial Mountain West power Boise State in the “Extra Yard for Teachers Game” on Friday (Sept. 23). Kickoff is at 7 p.m. The 2022 UTEP Athletics Hall of Fame class, featuring former Miner football standouts John Furman and Johnnie Lee Higgins, Jr., will be honored at the game. The free Speaking Rock Pregame Party Zone opens at 4 p.m., featuring a live performance by Lit. The game is sponsored by GECU. Fans can purchase tickets by visiting www.UTEPMiners.com/Tickets or by calling (915) 747-UTEP.