Look Out! UTEP is 3-1 After Dominant 31-6 Road Win Against ULM
The Miners raced off to an early 24-0 halftime lead and never looked back, ending with a 31-6 victory over the Lousiana-Monroe to start off the season 3-1 for the first time since 2010.
UTEP snapped an eight-game road losing streak with the win, which wraps up their non-conference slate. Director of Athletics Jim Senter scheduled Stephen F. Austin, Abilene Christian and ULM in place of the canceled games versus Texas Tech, Nevada and NM State—all resulting in wins for the Miners.
"We played with a lot of emotion and played really physical football," said third-year head coach Dana Dimel after his best start at the program. "Really balanced with what we did. We defended the pass well, we defended the run well. We threw the ball well, we ran the ball well. Just a really well-rounded effort from our football team."
And there's no question about it, UTEP's offensive weapons are now proven commodities. Redshirt sophomore quarterback Gavin Hardison was a true gunslinger in the game— 13-of-25 for 302 passing yards. Redshirt freshman running back Deion Hankins had his second 100-plus, multi-touchdown performance as he ended with 118 rushing yards on 22 attempts and three touchdowns. Senior Justin Garrett (seven catches, 120 yards) and sophomore Jacob Cowing (three catches, 102) put up a combined 222 receiving yards on the day, becoming the first UTEP receiving duo to each have a 100-plus yard day since Jordan Leslie and Mark Edwards in 2012 (vs. Rice).
Defensively, the Miners held ULM to just 193 total yards of offense, only seven rushing yards and forced ULM to go an abysmal 0-for-11 on third down.
In the first half, the Miners came out swinging.
Following an early 51-yard missed field goal by kicker Gavin Baechle, the Miners put together a quick touchdown drive to start the game. Hardison hit Cowing on an 82-yard bomb that set up an easy Hankins two-yard rushing touchdown.
ULM zipped the ball downfield on their next drive, driving inside the UTEP red zone. But on a throw to the end zone, quarterback Colby Suit's pass was intercepted by cornerback Duron Lowe. This set up a UTEP six-play, 68-yard touchdown drive that was capped off by another Hankins two-yard rushing score.
The offense closed out the half with two commanding drives. In the second quarter, Hardison hit Devaughn Cooper on a 38-yard strike to set up another eight-yard Hankins touchdown. By the end of the first half, UTEP averaged 28 yards per passing completion and put up 330 yards of total offense. They ended the first half with a Baechle 42-yard field goal.
The UTEP defense forced five consecutive three-and-outs against the Warhawks, which spanned from the late first quarter to the middle of the third quarter.
Coming out of the half, both teams came out a bit sluggish. The Miners drove into ULM territory but Baechle missed a 32-yard field goal early in the third quarter. After a Calvin Brownholtz fumble, the Warhawks scored on a 35-yard pass play from Suits to Jah Bloomfield to capitalize on the turnover.
The defense racked up three sacks in the game from defensive end Praise Amaewhule, linebacker Stephen Forester and defensive tackle Michael Ike.
Late in the game, junior tailback Ronald Awatt took a 25-yard carry to the house for another touchdown, capping off the game, 31-6.
Next up: Bye week
The Miners get a break next week with their bye week before conference play kicks off. After making a trip to Louisiana on Saturday, the Miners will return to the state and open up their C-USA schedule at La. Tech. UTEP is currently the only team in the league to play four games so far.
By the numbers: