UTEP Edges Shorthanded UNM 20-13 in El Paso
EL PASO, Texas — UTEP used a big third quarter to wrest control, and ultimately the game as New Mexico’s offense struggled in the second half as UTEP won 17-13 at the Sun Bowl in El Paso. The Lobos dropped to 2-2 and now return home to host Air Force in UNM’s Mountain West opener. Game time is at 4:30 pm on FS2.
The Lobos played the game without six of its top eight receivers due to a positive COVID test and contract tracing within the program, and while UNM moved the ball in the first half, the Lobos couldn’t get anything going offensively in the second half.
UTEP took the lead with a third quarter that saw the Miners outgain UNM 178-9 and outscore the Lobos 14-0. The Miners took the opening kickoff and it looked like they would be stopped when Joey Noble sacks Gavin Hardison for a 9-yard loss to force a third-and-21, but Hardison found Jacob Cowing for 34 yards. UTEP punched it in four plays later when Deion Hankins scored from four yards out.
After a punt by UNM, UTEP scored again when Cowing took advantage of a Lobo defender running into a different receiver, freeing him up for a 55-yard touchdown.
After a field goal with 2:20 left made it a 20-13 game, UNM got one last drive to try to tie things up. UNM started at its own 25 and quickly faced a fourth-and-nine, but Terry Wilson hit Connor Witthoft for 18 yards and a first down. He hit Witthoft against to get into UTEP territory but faced a fourth-and-one. On that Bobby Cole rushed up the middle for 13 yards to convert and get UNM to the 34, but UNM couldn’t convert from there. A pair of incompletions and a scramble left UNM in another fourth down, and this time Wilson’s pass in the end zone to Luke Wysong was a touch too long.
The Lobos picked up the only touchdown of the first half when Wilson finished off an 8-play 67-yard drive with a tough 12-yard touchdown run. The drive was highlighted by a third-and-10 conversion to Jace Taylor which went for 17 yards. It was the sophomore’s first career catch.
UNM had a chance to expound on that lead on the next drive, but on a fourth-and-2 from the 14-yard line, Wilson kept and ran right, but he could only get one yard, not the needed two. UTEP turned that into its first points when Gavin Baechle hit a 33-yard field goal.
UNM answered with a 43-yard field goal from Andrew Shelley, and it looked like the half would end at 10-3, but true freshman Ronald Wilson picked off Gavin Hardison with 49 seconds left and UNM took over at its own 39-yard line. Terry Wilson was able to drive UNM all the way to the UTEP 19-yard line, where Andrew Shelley hit a 36-yard field goal to give UNM a 13-3 lead at the break. However, Wilson went from that drive until the fourth quarter without a completion, missing 11 straight helping UTEP score 17 unanswered in the second half.
This was the 79th meeting between the two teams.
New Mexico now leads 43-33-3 all-time
UTEP now leads 21-17-2 in El Paso
New Mexico leads 26-12-1 in Albuquerque
UTEP has now won two straight in the series
Starting lineup changes for UNM from published two-deep
Offense: Jace Taylor started at WR for Keyonta Lanier; Connor Witthoft started at TE for Andrew Erickson, Austin Erickson started at WR for Mannie Logan-Greene.
Defense: Jake Saltonstall started at DE for Justin Harris, Jaden Phillips started at NT for LB Devin Sanders
*New Mexico’s captains were Terry Wilson, Jerrick Reed II, Kyle Stapley and Joey Noble.
*New Mexico’s Bryce Santana carried the state flag of New Mexico onto the field.
*New Mexico won the toss and elected to receive. UNM has received the opening kickoff in 10 of Danny Gonzales’ 11 games (Houston Baptist is the only exception).
*New Mexico suffered two turnovers, both in UNM territory, but both resulted in missed field goals. UNM hasn’t allowed a point off any turnovers (4) this season.
*UTEP’s missed field goal marked the second straight missed field goal by a Lobo opponent after they had made 19 straight dating back to October 19, 2019.
*UNM limited UTEP to just 51 yards rushing.
*The two teams combined to go 10-for-35 on third down
*Jace Taylor made his first career start. Benji Johnson was also active for the game. New Mexico was without five receivers and one tight end (Mannie Logan-Greene, Andrew Erickson, Keyonta Lanier, Elijah Queen, Zarak Scruggs, Jr. and Trace Bruckler) due to a positive COVID test and subsequent contact tracing within the program.
*Aaron Rodriguez had a season-best 61-yard punt in the fourth quarter. He averaged a season-best 52.9 yards per punt on seven punts.
*Isaiah Perez made his debut at long snapper on punts.
*Chad Alexander made his debut at punt returner and Luke Wysong made his debut as the primary kickoff returner.
*True freshman Ronald Wilson picked off his first career pass late in the second quarter in just his second career game.
*Andrew Shelley went 2-for-2 on field goals and is now 25-for-33 in his career.
*Kyle Jarvis had a career-high four catches and 59 yards.
*Joah Flores completed his first career pass.
*Quarterback Terry Wilson entered the game as tied for fourth among players active for the UTEP game in receptions in 2021, and he added another catch in the first quarter.