UTSA blasts UTEP, 44-23, to take control of C-USA West

UTEP

EL PASO, Texas (KTSM) – UTEP went into Saturday’s showdown with UTSA looking to make a statement and show just how far it has come in four years under Dana Dimel.

Instead, it was UTSA that put on a show, early and often, in front of a large crowd of 31,658 at the Sun Bowl, proving that the College Football Playoff committee got it wrong by leaving the Roadrunners out of its first Top 25 rankings of the season.

UTSA sprinted past UTEP 44-23 on Saturday night and the Roadrunners are every bit as good as their 9-0 record would say. The victory also moved UTSA to 5-0 in Conference USA play. UTEP (6-3, 3-2 C-USA) has now lost two games in a row and is likely out of the race for a C-USA West title, barring an improbable collapse down the stretch by the Roadrunners.

“Tip of my hat to the football UTSA played tonight, we know they’re a top-20 football team and they were better than that tonight,” said UTEP head coach Dana Dimel. “They brought their A-game for sure.”

Ranked 16th in the AP Poll this week, UTSA put its stamp on the game on the second play from scrimmage, when Sincere McCormick sprinted up the middle 75 yards for the opening touchdown of the game. McCormick rushed for 169 yards in the game on 21 carries and the Roadrunners added two field goals in the first quarter for a a quick 13-0 lead.

UTEP battled, though, and made it a one-score game midway through the first quarter when Gavin Hardison found Tyrin Smith for a 35-yard touchdown, one of two scores for Smith on the evening.

From there, though, Roadrunners quarterback Frank Harris was a maestro, completing 22 of 34 passes for 286 yards and two touchdowns. UTSA rolled up 562 total yards of offense; 286 through the air and 276 on the ground. UTEP’s defense entered the game ranked eighth in the nation, allowing just 295 total yards per game.

For Dimel, though, this game wasn’t as much about what the Miners didn’t do, but more about how electric UTSA was. There was nothing but respect for the Roadrunners from the Miners postgame.

“The’ve done a really good job with the talent they have and they’re an experienced team,” Dimel said. “They have 37 seniors that have been there a long time.”

“They knew how to attack our mistakes,” said UTEP defensive back Tyson Wilson. “We tried to execute as best we could, but Frank (Harris) and Sincere (McCormick) were fantastic and capitalized on our mistakes.”

UTEP was playing without its two starting safeties; Justin Prince and Dy’vonne Inyang were both out with injuries. Prince has missed the last two games and is out for at least 4-5 more weeks, but this was the first game Inyang has missed after playing the entire FAU game. Dimel did not give a timeline for Inyang’s return throughout this week of practice, or after the UTSA game.

The Miners also appear to have dodged a huge injury bullet with wide receiver Jacob Cowing, who went out in the third quarter and did not return. Cowing was on the Miners bench with ice on his right shoulder in the second half; however, Dimel said it was a minor injury and that Cowing will be back next week vs. North Texas. UTEP’s leading receiver caught five passes for 112 yards on Saturday.

UTEP wasn’t hanging its heads after the loss on Saturday; instead the Miners were already looking ahead to their final three games of the regular season, starting Nov. 13 vs. North Texas. There’s still plenty for the Miners to play for and Dimel said postgame that he thinks the loss will make UTEP better moving forward.

“We got a lot better tonight, sometimes you get that feeling,” Dimel said. “There’s things we can learn from it and get fixed. If we get ourselves back on track next weekend, we’re 7-3 and that’s a pretty good place to be as a football team, so there’s so much for us to play for.”

UTSA is back home next week to host Southern Miss; UTEP will play at North Texas in Denton. Kickoff is slated for 2 p.m.

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