ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — Jordan Mims ran for 165 yards and two touchdown and caught five passes for 71 yards and another score to help Fresno State beat UTEP 31-24 on Saturday in the New Mexico Bowl.
UTEP has lost the New Mexico Bowl in all three of its appearances and has a seven-game bowl losing streak dating to 1967.
Fresno State (10-3) won the bowl game for the first time in three tries.
Jake Haener was 26 of 41 for 286 yards and a touchdown. His status had been somewhat in doubt when he briefly entered the transfer portal after coach Kalen DeBoer took the job at Washington.
Mims’ 22-yard catch and run late in third quarter gave the Bulldogs a 26-17 lead.
The Miners (7-6) pulled to 26-24 early in the fourth quarter on Calvin Brownholtz’s 51-yard touchdown pass to Trent Thompson, catching the Bulldogs sleeping out of a goal line package.
But Fresno State got a field goal, followed by a UTEP safety and finally a crushing fumble by Gavin Hardison when UTEP was driving to tie the game that allowed the Bulldogs to run out the clock.
“When these guys came to UTEP, I recruited these guys off an 0-12 season. These guys came to UTEP because they wanted to make a difference, and they’ve made a big difference,” said UTEP head coach Dana Dimel. “They were really emotional in the locker room because they care so much.”
UTEP’s Gavin Hardison threw for 252 yards and a touchdown.
The Bulldogs will be spending the offseason readjusting to new/old coach Jeff Tedford, who returns following a two-year, health-related absence after coaching the team from 2017-19.
Meanwhile for UTEP, with Hardison having at least two seasons of eligibility remaining, as well top running back Ronald Awatt and top receiver Jacob Cowing, also scheduled to return, UTEP is well positioned for next next season.
“I really wanted it for the seniors, these coaches and just this program as a whole,” said Hardison, who was in tears postgame. “We haven’t won a bowl game in a while and it’s just something we wanted to accomplish. There’s now motivation to come back and finish the job — it’s on everyone’s mind right now.”