Time to Panic? New Mexico Demolishes UTEP, 27-10
The UTEP football program has hit a low point early into its season.
In a must-win game, the Miners fell completely flat offensively and turned the ball over seven times in their 27-10 road letdown loss to New Mexico. Quarterback Gavin Hardison threw three interceptions in the loss, including a pick-six on their second drive on offense. He ended 20-of-45 passing (44% completion) for 299 yards and no touchdowns. They ran the ball just 21 times compared to 46 pass attempts.
There were nine total turnovers between both squads in a sloppy matchup.
Now UTEP (1-3, 0-1 C-USA) will have to try to regroup against a tough Boise State game next week before they continue with their conference schedule on Oct. 1 against Charlotte. UTEP would have to try and win five of their last eight games to try and become bowl eligible, but those hopes might be far-fetched. This program appears to have taken a step back from last year's 7-6 bowl team.
Is it time to push the panic button for the 2022 UTEP football season?
Miners down big at the half, 20-3
In the first half, the Miners completely lost their mojo on both sides of the ball.
Following a tipped pass that was intercepted and turned to a touchdown, UTEP's offense looked deflated down 10-0. Both teams traded punts and returner Marcus Bellon put UTEP in prime field position. Instead of getting a touchdown off the drive, the Miners settled for a 46-yard Gavin Baechle field goal. Then, New Mexico put together a long, 75-yard drive that lasted nearly six minutes and was capped off by a three yard rushing score by Sherod White, putting New Mexico up 17-3.
UTEP had an opportunity to move the ball before halftime, but their drive stalled near midfield. Since the Miners left too much time on the clock, New Mexico was able to swiftly move down the field and kick a 51-yard field goal with eight-seconds left in the half, increasing the lead to 20-3.
Second half brings five UTEP turnovers
In the second half, the Miners totaled five of their seven turnovers, including a fumble in the Lobos' end zone on a 79-yard near touchdown by Tyrin Smith. Despite the Lobos not scoring in the third quarter, the Miners had no answer offensively to try and come back in this game.
Running back Deion Hankins capped off the Miners' only touchdown drive with a 1-yard rushing score once this one was out of reach. The Lobos scored on a late rushing touchdown by Nate Jones to finish the Miners, 27-10.
Linebacker Cal Wallerstedt led the Miner defense with two sacks, 3.5 tackles for losses and seven total tackles. Tyrice Knight (14) and Kobe Hylton (10) each had double figures in total tackles.
UTEP actually out-gained New Mexico in total offense, 353-299, but the Miners' seven turnovers were too much to overcome.
Up next, UTEP will host Mountain West foe Boise State on Friday, September 23. Kick off is set for 7 p.m. at the Sun Bowl. The game can be heard on KLAQ (95.5) and it will be televised on the CBS Sports Network.