Jeff Hanisch-US PRESSWIRE - Presswire
The UTEP Miners fell in their Conference USA opener to the East Carolina Pirates Saturday in Greenville, NC.
After a fast start, and a 10-7 lead heading into a more than an hour long rain delay, the Miners offense failed to make it out of the locker room. On the first play from scrimmage after the delay, the Miner defense came up with an interception of ECU quarterback Shane Carden.
The UTEP offense however was unable to get anything done, and after a three and out, had to punt the ball back to the Pirates. Once again, the Miner defense held strong, and came up with another interception of Carden, giving the offense the ball back deep in UTEP territory.
Once again, the offense went three and out, and the floodgates opened. The Pirates put up the go ahead touchdown with a toss to wideout Justin Hardy that put ECU up 14-10.
The Miners defense held strong for a few drives, but more three and outs by the offense put the defense back out there, and after a handful of stops, they were no longer able to hold. The Pirates opened their lead with a nine play drive that was capped by an 8 yard Carden TD run with :51 seconds left in third that made the score 21-10.
The fourth quarter was highlighted by three Nick Lamaison interceptions, the second of which eventually led to the Pirates scoring another touchdown on a 24 yard Vintavious Cooper run, making the game 28-10.
The UTEP special teams made consecutive big plays for the Miners, returning the ensuing kickoff for a touchdown, and recovering an onside kick, but Nick Lamaison's third interception eventually doomed them.
The loss drops the Miners to 1-4 on the season, and 0-1 in Conference USA action. More importantly, it puts them in a huge hole with only 7 games to play. If the Miners are going to make it to bowl eligibility, they must now pick up wins in 5 of 7 games. Considering what we saw tonight, I'm not sure how likely that is.