SAN ANTONIO, Texas — Frank Harris threw for 382 yards and three touchdowns, and UTSA overcame a 24-0 second-quarter deficit to hand the UTEP Miners a 34-31 loss in their 2022 season finale on Saturday afternoon at the Alamodome.
Jared Sackett’s 28-yard field goal with three seconds left was the game winner and put the finishing touches on a 34-7 scoring run by the Roadrunners.
Despite a gallant effort, UTEP’s bid to make back-to-back bowl games was thwarted as the Miners cap the campaign with a 5-7 record, 3-5 in Conference USA. UTSA, 10-2 and 8-0 in the league, will host the C-USA Championship game next week.
The Miners stunned the heavily favored Roadrunners by scoring the game’s first 24 points. Calvin Brownholtz connected with James Tupou (15 yards) and Tyrin Smith (45 yards) for scores, and later ran for a 23-yard TD. Sandwiched in-between was a 44-yard field goal by Gavin Baechle.
“The message [to the team] was I was really proud of them and they played a physical football game on both sides of the football,” UTEP Head Coach Dana Dimel said. “We were the most physical football team today and did some really good things on offense and defense. These guys deserved to win the way they played.”
UTSA finally got on the board with 5:15 remaining in the second quarter when Harris found Joshua Cephus streaking down the field for a 65-yard touchdown.
A few minutes later, what was once a 24-point UTEP lead was cut to 10 when Dadrian Taylor picked off Brownholtz’s pass deep in Roadrunner territory and ran it back 73 yards for a score.
UTEP tried to get three of the points back on the final play of the half, but Baechle’s 52-yard field goal attempt was short and his school-record string of consecutive makes ended at 22.
UTEP had 341 yards at halftime — 190 passing and 151 rushing – to UTSA’s 162.
The second half was a different outcome, as the Roadrunners compiled 296 yards, held the Miners to 157, and outscored the visitors 20-7 over the final 30 minutes.
The Miners needed a touchdown to start the second half and they got it. Brownholtz led a six-play, 66-yard drive, culminating in a five-yard rushing score by Rey Flores for a 31-14 lead. A roughing the punter call on UTSA’s Dre Spriggs extended the drive.
The Roadrunners utilized their quick-strike offense to pull within 10 once again, 31-21 on a 14-yard TD pass from Harris to Zakhari Franklin.
With the Miners up 10 points, a key moment in the contest is when Brownholtz ran for a 44-yard gain to the UTSA 19-yard line at around the midway point of the third quarter. However, there were two penalties on the play. A personal foul was called on UTSA, but Brownholtz was called for an offensive facemask which moved the ball back to the UTEP 37.
“Some unfortunate things happened like that big call where Calvin was called for that offensive facemask that changed the whole second half,” Dimel said. “He tore his hamstring on that play. So, we played from there with a quarterback with a torn hamstring. He gutted it out and played. We couldn’t do any running plays with him after that.”
UTEP had five plays for four yards on that drive that forced a punt. UTSA capitalized, and converted a 51-yard field goal by Sackett late in the third quarter cut the UTEP lead to 31-24.
A little more than two minutes later, it was a tie ballgame, as Tykee Ogle-Kellogg caught a 70-yard touchdown pass from Harris.
It was still a tie game with 4:03 remaining in the contest, when the Roadrunners took over on offense at their own 16-yard line. Eight plays, 73 yards and 3:59 later, UTSA had its first lead of the day.
UTEP scored on each of its first four possessions, but the last seven produced a touchdown, missed field goal, interception and three punts.
The Miners were whistled for 11 penalties totaling 65 yards while playing before a deafening crowd on “Senior Day” in the Alamodome.
Brownholtz completed 11-of-24 passes for 189 yards for UTEP, while rushing 10 times for 51 yards. The Miners rushed for 253 yards as a team, as Ronald Awatt gained 79 and Flores 74.
Smith caught four passes for 99 yards, becoming the eighth receiver in school history to have a 1,000-yard campaign.
Two Roadrunner receivers tallied 100 yards — Ogle-Kellogg (142) and Franklin (126).