UTEP Uses 24 Unanswered Points in the 2nd Half to Beat Rice, 38-28
UTEP scored 24 unanswered points in the second half to champion a come-from-behind victory to claim their seventh win on Saturday, downing Rice 38-28 at the Sun Bowl.
And for the first time since UTEP's three-game losing streak started, the offense was able to pull through for the squad.
Quarterback Gavin Hardison had a career-high 366 passing yards on 23-of-35 passes with two touchdowns and one interception. Running back Ronald Awatt ended with nine carries, 119 rushing yards and 65 receiving yards in the win.
Standout wide receiver Jacob Cowing tied a program record 13 100-yard receiving games after grabbing 11-catches for 170 yards and one touchdown. He tied Chuck Hughes (1965) for 13 career games with 100+ receiving yards. Cowing has a chance to break the record next week in the season finale.
In the first half, the Miners got off to an early lead thanks to a crisp nine-play, 75-yard touchdown drive on the opening possession of the game. Hardison went 5-for-5 through the air and had 61 passing yards with a touchdown pass to Jacob Cowing on third and goal.
Several drives later, Rice responded with a long, 15-play, 70-yard drive that featured two fourth down conversions, several penalties by UTEP and was capped off by a 1-yard rushing touchdown from quarterback Austin Broussard.
On the next drive, UTEP marched down the field with a quick scoring possession that lasted 1:45. They were set up by a pair of catches by Tyrin Smith and a 32-yard haul by Cowing. Hardison finished the drive with a 14-yard touchdown pass to senior Justin Garrett.
Rice was able to put together a 2:30-minute scoring drive to tie the game, 14-14. The drive was 69-yards and ended in a touchdown pass from Jake Constantine to Jack Bradley.
On UTEP's next drive, Hardison threw an interception with just over one minute left. Rice scored two plays later on a 33-yard touchdown strike from Constantine to Cedric Patterson III. The Miners went into the half trailing 21-14.
The Miners woke up during the second half in a resounding fashion.
On UTEP's first drive in the third quarter, the offense marched all the way to the Rice 1 yard line. This scoring drive featured two catches by Tyrin Smith and a Cowing reception on fourth down. They were unable to score inside the 10-yard line and kicked a field goal instead.
After a quick Rice punt, UTEP scored a touchdown after running back Ronald Awatt took a screen pass 65 yards inside the 10 yard line. Backup quarterback Calvin Brownholtz ran it in for a 1-yard score to finish the drive.
Then, UTEP was able to score on their next drive after Awatt rushed for a 74-yard gain to the Rice 7 yard line. Wadley was able to punch it in a few plays after for his first touchdown of the season.
The Miners wrapped up their 24 unanswered points with another six-play, 61-yard touchdown drive that ended in another Brownholtz 1-yard score. The Miners led 38-21, their largest of the game.
Rice scored a late touchdown to make it a 10-point game, but they weren't able to answer back late in the fourth quarter.
Up next: UTEP (7-4, 4-3 C-USA) will face UAB in Birmingham next Friday for a noon kickoff local time to wrap up their regular season.