For the first time all season the Miner defense did not allow the opposing offense to score on their opening drive. That was the only positive take to away as Rice continued its hot streak and is now 6-2 overall and 4-0 in conference.
The Miners had their chances early after holding the Owls offense to only three points on their first possessions of the game. The Miners (1-6, 0-4) had a 49 yard field goal blocked and only managed 54 total yards of offense until Blaire Sullivan hit Ian Hamilton on 50 yard touchdown pass with six minutes left in the 2nd quarter making the game 10-7 Rice.
Sullivan replaced starter Jameill Showers who left early in the 2nd quarter with a serious shoulder injury to his throwing arm.
Mario Hull would return the ensuing kickoff 45 yards that would set up a quick 4 play 45 yard touchdown drive capped off by a 17 yard touchdown pass from Taylor McHaruge to Dennis Parks that gave Rice a 17-7 lead.
Aaron Jones, who rushed for 186 yards, would break an 81 yard run on the Miners next drive that would give UTEP a first and goal at the Rice three yard line. After being stuffed on the first down play, Jones was given the ball on 2nd down and fumbled which Rice recovered on the UTEP one yard line.
Rice would go on to drive 99 yards on 11 plays that would tick 4:30 off the clock and take all the life out of the Miners as Rice went into the half with a 24-7 lead.
The Miner offensive line was dominated as the Rice defense controlled the predictable UTEP offense who only managed 364 yards of total offense. Jones was the only lifeline of offense for the Miner after another strong effort that will put him in the national lead for rushing yards by freshman.
The Owls would run away with the game in 2nd half as they would finish with 265 yards rushing, led by Charles Ross who ran for 152 yards and a touchdown.
The Miner offense stuck with run as they struggled with pass protection and only let Blaire Sullivan throw nine times though he did hit Ian Hamilton on two long passes and finished 6/9 112 yards with an interception.
The Miners have now lost four games in a row and will face Texas A&M next week in College Station.