MONROE, LA (KTSM) — For the first time since 2010, UTEP has started the season 3-1 following their 31-6 beatdown of UL Monroe on Saturday afternoon at Malone Stadium.
“It’s a giantic start for our football team,” said head coach Dana Dimel. “We just beat a really good Sun Belt team that was competitive last year in the Sun Belt Conference. That’s a conference that’s very parallel to ours. To win on the road like this is just huge for our football program.”
The game was highlighted by redshirt freshman Deion Hankins. The former Parkland High School standout ran over, through, and around the Warhawk defense, on his way to 118 yards rushing and three touchdowns. Hankins becomes the first freshman to rush for three touchdowns since 1988 and recorded his second 100-yard performance of the season.
“It felt awesome,” said Hankins. “I just went out and did my best. I was out last week with a hurt ankle, so, I came back and just knew that I had to run the rock.”
The offense as a whole could do no wrong, especially in the first half. Redshirt sophomore quarterback Gavin Hardison threw for 302 yards in the win. Both of his favorite targets, Jacob Cowing (102 receiving yards) and Justin Garrett (120 receiving yards), tallied over 100 yards receiving in the game.
UTEP gained over 500 yards of total offense in the win, including 210 rushing yards against a ULM defense that had no answer for the ground and poung attack. Josh Fields finished the game with 53 rushing yards and Ronald Awatt slammed the door with a fourth quarter rushing touchdown.
The Miners’ defense also came to play. Duron Lowe recorded his second interception of the season in the red zone, seemingly taking points off the scoreboard for ULM. UTEP picked up three sacks and held the Warhawks to under 200 total yards. ULM had just six first downs in the game.
It is one of the more complete games UTEP has played in a long, long time, and the Miners’ performance as a 9.5-point underdog is turning heads across the college football landscape.
“That’s the reason I decided to stay in El Paso — I wanted to be a part of a change,” said Hankins.
UTEP will head into their bye week at 3-1 and will open Conference USA play on Saturday, Oct. 10 at Louisiana Tech.