Words can't describe it. The UTEP Miners football team has made shooting themselves in the foot an art form. The Miners just blew a game against Marshall in a way that seemingly defies explanation. And they did this, despite an incredible performance by Andre Patterson's defense that held Marshall to 7 points for the first 58 minutes of action.
The Miners found a new way to let a winnable game slip away. UTEP found a new way to disappoint their fans, alumni, and themselves.
Essentially, Here's What Went Down
UTEP's offense limped through the first three and a half quarters of this game and consequently UTEP trailed 7-6 in the fourth. The Miners had a punt blocked, fumbled a snap, had penalties in the red zone, missed a field goal, fumbled a shotgun center snap, fumbled a handoff, and still were only down 7-6. That's because the defense played out of their minds.
UTEP finally found a way to score a touchdown to take a 12-7 lead late in the fourth quarter when Trevor Vittatoe hitKris Adams for a 23 yard touchdown. Hero, right? Not exactly. Trevor Vittatoe then sputtered away an interception on a two point conversion that was returned 99 yards for a 2 point Marshall conversion. Instead of UTEP being up, at worse, 12-7, the Miners were up 12-9 with 5:25 to play. No kidding. The 2 point conversion was returned 99 yards. That really happened.
Minutes later, Marshall ran the ball down to the one yard line (think UAB, Tulane). UTEP's defense was gassed andTron Martinez took Marshall down the field to get a first and goal at the 7. On first, Marshall ran the ball to the two yard line. On second, a heroic tackle by Jamie Irving forced a third and goal at the 1 yard line. Then, a failed Brian Anderson pass attempt forced Marshall to kick a tying field goal with 2 minutes left in the game. 12-12.
But wait. UTEP roughed the kicker!
To compound matters. Mike Price challenged the play- a challenge that he couldn't possibly win- which cost UTEP its final timeout. Price thought that UTEP tipped the kickoff which would have negated a hit on the kicker. Do you think the C-USA has camera angles capable of determining that? Nope.
Not 12-12. 12-7 with Marshall having a first and goal from the 1. Again. Mike Price conceded that UTEP's defense couldn't hold Marshall at the goal line again. So, now with no timeouts left, UTEP, allowed Tron Martinez to score.
Amazingly, letting the other team score a touchdown unabated was one of the best coaching decisions we saw tonight. Read that again, and you'll know how terrible UTEP played.
With two minutes to play, Vittatoe moved the Miners down to the Marshall 31 yard line, thanks mostly to a squib kick (No way Holliday was kicking to Marlon McClure). On second down, Trevor Vittatoe was sacked for a 12 yard loss to force a third and19 with about forty seconds to play.
Trevor, a four year starting QB, then inexplicably spiked the ball with 40 seconds to play leaving UTEP with a fourth and 19. The pass was predictably incomplete and the game was over.
Yes, UTEP, had a 3rd and 19 at the Marshall 42 yard line with 40 seconds to play and we spiked the ball. How do the coaches let that happen? How do the Miners not have a play ready to go? I don't know if the coaches ordered the spike, or if TV did it on his own, but somebody made a colossal mistake.
So many questions, so much frustration!
- How could TV spike that ball? Amazingly he made the same mistake at the end of the first half too. Who's decision was it to spike the ball? The coaches? Or TV?
- Does UTEP not practice the 2 minute drill?!
- How does Trevor throw that out pass on a 2 point conversion that gets intercepted and returned for 99 yards? It was an out pattern- exactly like the one that ended the Tulane game. Twice in two weeks, Trevor? The same play. The same result. What's the definition of insanity?
- How do you rough the kicker there? It's 12-9 with 2 minutes to go? The announcers didn't say who committed the penalty, but wow, what a mental error.
- Les Miles, is it possible he's better at clock management than Mike Price?
I'm going to take a deep breath before I write any more because if I keep going, it's going to be a scorched earth thing that I might regret. Please use this post to express your post game frustrations.