UTEP Tops Charlotte to Snap Eastern Time Zone Winless Streak, 41-35
UTEP is now 1-26-1 all-time in eastern time zone games after the Miners squeezed past Charlotte, 41-35, in a back-and-forth contest that went down to the end.
Jadrian Taylor's 100-yard fumble recovery for a touchdown put the Miners up 41-21 with 13:26 left in the fourth quarter, but Charlotte scored 14 unanswered points to put them in reach, down 41-35. With 86 seconds left in the game and a chance to take the lead, Charlotte quarterback Chris Reynolds threw an interception to UTEP corner Ilijah Johnson.
The Miners snapped their losing streak in the eastern time zone and improved to 3-3 on the season after a 1-3 start.
“It was a crazy game. Where do you start? We did so many good things in all three aspects. We knew [Charlotte] would be a test,” UTEP head coach Dana Dimel said. “We knew they would score points, but we scored enough of our own points. We played with so much integrity on some drives. We didn’t give up on that first-and-goal and Jadrian [Taylor] got that big turnover for a 100-yard touchdown which was huge. We didn’t get that last first down to close the game out, but Ilijah [Johnson] came up with that big interception to end the game.”
Charlotte took the early 7-0 lead before UTEP mounted a 15-play, 75 yard opening drive that ended in a Gavin Hardison 17-yard touchdown pass to Tyrin Smith. The Miners took the lead in the second quarter thanks to an easy 22-yard Gavin Baechle field goal. With just under four minutes to go in the half, the Miners scored on a 82-yard drive before halftime from a Hardison touchdown pass to tight end Trent Thompson, which was set up by a Deion Hankins 34-yard run.
Then, on Charlotte's next play right before half, UTEP linebacker Cal Wallerstedt and defensive end Jadrian Taylor forced a fumble on quarterback Chris Reynolds, which was taken back 13 yards for a touchdown by linebacker Tyrice Knight. Miners went into halftime up 24-7.
Charlotte came out of the half with two scores in the matter of under a minute. First, Reynolds hit wide receiver Elijah Spencer for a 23-yard touchdown pass. Following a Ronald Awatt fumble, Reynolds hit Grant DuBose two plays later for a two-yard touchdown pass. The 49ers cut the UTEP lead to three points, 24-21.
The Miners were able to score 17 unanswered points, including a 58-yard touchdown pass from Hardison to Smith and the best play you'll see all night: a 100-yard scoop-and-score by Taylor to give the Miner defense its second touchdown of the night.
Despite the two late touchdowns from Charlotte, the Miners hung on in the final minute to win 41-35.
UTEP amassed 252 rushing yards, led by Deion Hankins (112) and Ronald Awatt (88). Hardison went 10-for-14 with 173 passing yards and three touchdowns.
Reynolds completed 21-of-37 passes for 321 yards and four touchdowns for Charlotte, which had 417 total yards of offense. Spencer led all receivers with seven catches for 160 yards.
The Miners hit the road next Saturday, Oct. 8, when they play at LA Tech at 5 p.m. MT. The game can be heard on 600 ESPN El Paso.