EL PASO, Texas (KTSM) — Gavin Hardison threw a career-high three touchdown passes, Willie Eldridge and Ronald Awatt each had over 100 yards rushing, and UTEP beat Bethune-Cookman 38-28 on Saturday night at Sun Bowl Stadium.
“We’re really excited to be 2-0. I’m really pleased about that,” said UTEP head coach Dana Dimel. “Offensively, again, we did a lot of good things. We finally got the ground game rolling once we kind of got a feel and fit of what they were doing. This [Bethune-Cookman] team has had a long time to prepare for us. I thought they did a nice job of scheming and playing so we had to adjust to that. I thought that we did that well offensively in the second half.”
With the win, the Miners improve to 2-0 for the first time since 2005, and have scored 30+ points in back-to-back wins for the first time since 2014.
“You’re not always going to play pristine or perfect football, but the key is to win the games when you don’t play your best on that night,” said Dimel. “I thought this was a big step for us as well.”
Hardison threw a touchdown to Trent Thompson in the first half, followed by scoring tosses to Jacob Cowing and Justin Garrett in the second half. The sophomore quarterback finished the game 14-of-22 passing for 183 yards.
“It’s big for our confidence to start out like this, but at the end of the day, I think everyone is ready to get to Friday [against Boise State],” said Hardison. “We want to play that game next week and this is good for our confidence — it’s a good win, but at the same time, we have a quick turnaround and we need to get ready for Friday.”
With Deion Hankins and Quardraiz Wadley sidelined with undisclosed injuries, Awatt rushed for 126 yards on 18 carries, and his 19-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter put the game away for the Miners. Eldridge had 118 yards rushing on 14 carries.
“We are very hungry,” said Eldridge. “We aren’t trying to be like the past UTEP. We are trying to build a new legacy. This is a new UTEP team and we’re not worried about the past. We are trying to come out here and win every game.”
UTEP will now have a short week to prepare for Boise State. The Miners and Broncos will play each other next Friday night at Albertsons Stadium in Boise, Idaho. Kickoff is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. MT and the game will air nationally on FS1.