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UTEP Struggles to Keep Pace With Tulsa, Falls 34-20

The Miners entered Saturday's contest looking to knock off Tulsa and improve to 2-4 on the season. It wasn't meant to be.

Ivan Pierre Aguirre-USA TODAY Sp

The defense struggled early, allowing the Golden Hurricane to score touchdowns on each of their first three drives, and the Miner offense failed to keep pace, finding themselves in an early hole that would prove to deep to get out of.

The Hurricane opened the scoring on an 8 play, 76 yard drive that lasted just 3:21 and was capped off by a three yard run by Ja'Terian Douglas. The Miners put together a respectable 9 play 48 yard drive following that, but it eventually stalled and they were held to a field goal, cutting the lead to 7-3 midway through the first.

Tulsa would come back with an efficient 8 play drive that went for 75 yards in just 3:23. The dagger came on a virtual jump ball into the end zone for a 24 yard score. The Miners were in great position to make an interception or at least break up the pass, but Keevan Lucas went right over the defender to haul in the pass.

After a UTEP punt, the Hurricane once again moved right down the field with a 4 play, 87 yard drive that ended in almost the exact same way the previous drive did. With the Miners in great position, Thomas Roberson went up and just took away a jump ball in the end zone, giving Tulsa a 21-3 lead.

The Miners would answer with a field goal on their next drive after a 14 play drive that took the UTEP offense deep into Tulsa territory. That score cut the Hurricane lead to 21-6.

After three and outs by both squads, and with the Miners punting from their own 35, the first and only break of the game came for the Miners. A muffed punt gave UTEP the ball in prime position, but they wouldn't be able to take advantage.

Runs on first and second down netted zero yards, and a pass on a quick out from Jameill Showers to Eric Tomlinson was intercepted at the Tulsa four yard line, keeping the Golden Hurricane advantage at 21-6.

The Miner defense was able to force another three and out, but once again the offense would have a drive stall inside the red zone, and would come away with no points. After a 9 play, 37 yard drive a Jay Mattox field goal was blocked, allowing Tulsa to take that 15 point lead into the locker rooms.

Autrey Golden, once again, created a spark for the Miners, as he returned the opening kick of the second half 104 yards for a touchdown, quickly cutting Tulsa's lead to 21-13.

The Hurricane responded though, putting together an 8 play, 54 yard drive that ended with a 38 yard field goal by Carl Salazar, pushing their lead back to 11.

UTEP then began what looked like a promising drive, but quickly found themselves with a 4th and 4 from the Tulsa 44. The Miners would go for it, but called an extremely questionable draw that netted just two yards, and would turn it over on downs.

The short field allowed Tulsa three points on another Salazar field goal, and the Miners were once again down two touchdowns.

On the ensuing drive, Jordan Leslie took a pass from Showers on a quick screen, sidestepped a Hurricane defender, and ran away from everyone for a 71 yard score. That brought the Miners back to within seven at 27-20 with still more than a minute to play in the third.

However, Cody Green would put the dagger in the Miners hearts on the ensuing drive, punching in a touchdown on 4th and inches from the Miner two yard line. That capped an 11 play drive, and gave the Hurricane a 14 point lead with just over ten minutes to play.

The final three drives by each team would produce no more points, and the Miners eventually fell 34-20.

The Golden Hurricane finished the night with 22 first downs and 430 total yards, including 226 through the air and 204 on the ground. The Miners finished with 20 first downs and 388 total yards, going for 166 passing and 222 rushing.

Cody Green was extremely efficient through the air for Tulsa, going for 226 yards on 14/17 passing, with two scores, to add to a third on the ground. Trey Watts was the game's leading rusher, racking up 142 yards on 27 carries. Thomas Roberson was the Hurricane's leading receiver, hauling in five balls for 105 yards and a score.

Jameill Showers had his worst night passing as a Miner, completing just 12 passes in 30 attempts, and throwing for one score with two interceptions. Aaron Jones was the Miners' leading rusher, going for 90 yards on 15 carries, before leaving the game with a bruised sternum in the third quarter. Jordan Leslie finished with 102 yards and a score on four catches.

The Miners will now have a week off before heading to Houston to take on Rice. The Owls boast a run game that is among the best in Conference USA, so the Miners will have their hands full.

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