DENTON, Texas (KTSM) – Jaelon Darden reeled in eight catches for 173 yards to become North Texas’ all-time receiving leader, as the Mean Green come-from-behind to beat UTEP, 45-43, on Friday night in Denton.
Darden scored four touchdowns, including the go-ahead score with 8:06 to play in the third quarter, as North Texas (4-5, 3-4 C-USA) toppled an undermanned Miners (3-5, 0-4 C-USA) team in the regular season finale for both teams.
Calvin Brownholtz made his first career start at quarterback for the Miners, as Gavin Hardison was unable to play due to COVID-19 contact tracing, according to the broadcast. Hardison did not make the trip with the team. UTEP was also decimated in the secondary with five key players out, including four starters who entered the transfer portal earlier this week.
Brownholtz rushed 15 times for 114 yards and two touchdowns. He also threw for 196 yards and two touchdowns, both of them going to Jacob Cowing who hauled in five receptions for 118 yards.
The Miners piled up 301 rushing yards, as Deion Hankins finished one-yard shy of the century mark. Hankins found the end zone twice. Ronald Awatt added 79 yards on the ground for the Miners and Josh Fields tallied 10 yards on four carries.
Austin Aune completed 16-of-29 passes for 302 yards and five touchdowns for North Texas. Deonte Simpson caught four passes for 103 yards and a touchdown.
UTEP finishes the regular season 3-5, but 0-4 in Conference USA play. With the NCAA waiving eligibility requirements for bowl games in 2020, the Miners could still get invited to play in a bowl game, although it seems unlikely at this point.
UTEP will now turn their attention to 2021, which could be a make-or-break year for head coach Dana Dimel, who is 5-27 (1-19) in three seasons with the Miners.