UTEP comeback falls short at FAU, 28-25

UTEP

BOCA RATON, FL (KTSM) — Too little, too late.

UTEP (6-2, 3-1) scored 15 points in the final 3:13 of regulation, but it wasn’t enough as the Miners drop their first Conference USA game of the season at Florida Atlantic (5-3, 3-1) on Saturday night. The loss drops UTEP to 0-26-1 all-time playing in the Eastern Time Zone.

“We just didn’t score enough points to win the football game,” said UTEP head coach Dana Dimel. “Obviously we couldn’t move the ball a lot until the end of the game. We need to do that the whole game. The defense played fantastic, but we didn’t play well enough to win. We played really good football, got ourselves back into [the game] and had a chance to get ourselves to make a play at the end of the game, and couldn’t quite do it. I’m super proud of the way our guys played, especially coming back like that and continuing to fight. We beat [FAU] in every aspect of the game except for the scoreboard and that’s what’s really disappointing.”

Sophomore quarterback Gavin Hardison threw for 339 yards and two touchdowns, but also threw two costly interceptions in the loss. Tyrin Smith (4 receptions, 114 receiving yards, 1 touchdown) and Justin Garrett (7 receptions, 110 receiving yards) each had over 100 yards receiving, while Deion Hankins (11 carries, 71 rushing yards) and Ronald Awatt (11 carries, 35 yards, 1 touchdown) combined for over 100 yards rushing.

FAU benefited from a N’Kosi Perry touchdown pass to LaJohntay Wester with :02 seconds remaining in the first half to take a 14-10 lead into the locker room at halftime. A pair of 1-yard touchdowns from Zaire Mitchell-Paden and James Charles in the second half swelled the Owls’ lead to 18 points (28-10) with 11:15 remaining in regulation.

After Hardison found Trent Thompson on a 23-yard touchdown pass in the second quarter, the Miners wouldn’t get back into the end zone until Awatt found pay dirt from five yards out for his fourth touchdown of the season. Awatt tacked on the 2pt. conversion to make it a 10-point game with 3:13 to play. Reynaldo Flores would recover Mark Ramos’ ensuing onside kick, and on a 4th-and-13, Hardison connected with Tyrin Smith on a 49-yard touchdown pass to cut the deficit to just three points with 2:10 on the clock.

UTEP’s defense, who was ranked No. 9 in the country coming into Saturday’s game against FAU, would force a three-and-out to give the offense the football back on their own 24-yard line with :36 seconds to go. Hardison and the offense sputtered and turned the ball over on downs to seal the Owls win, 28-25.

The loss drops the Miners to 6-2 (3-1) this season. UTEP will host No. 23 UTSA next week at Sun Bowl Stadium in a nationally televised game on ESPN2.

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