Driphus Jackson completed just 10 passes on the night, but averaged nearly 23 yards per completion, passing for 227 yards, two touchdowns and an interception in the 31-13 win Friday night in Houston.
The Miners would open up the game with a fumble on its opening possession, well inside its own territory. Aaron Jones put the ball on the ground on a second and three, but the Miner defense would hold, forcing a three and out and a punt.
Neither team would do anything on their first three possessions, as the Miners would force three and outs on Rice's first three, while the Owls would force the turnover and two three and outs on the UTEP's first three.
A 13 play, 62 yard drive by the Owls early in the second quarter ended in a Rice field goal, putting them on the board for the first score with 9:20 left in the first half.
UTEP would answer on their ensuing drive, also going 62 yards, in 12 plays, ending with a 32 yard Jay Mattox field goal that knotted the score at three with less than 4:30 to play in the half.
Rice would close out the half with a quick 10 play 75 yard drive that ended in a five yard run by Darik Dillard, putting them up 10-3 heading into the locker rooms.
The Owls would open up the second half in much the same fashion, needing just four plays and 2:09 to go 82 yards for another touchdown to go up 14 at 17-3. That drive ended with a 24 yard strike from Jackson to Jordan Taylor.
Following punts by both teams, the Miners would tack on another field goal midway through the third to cut the lead to 17-6. An interception by Devin Cockrell quickly gave the Miners the ball back, and this time they capitalized with 5 yard touchdown run by Jameill Showers to get within four at 17-13.
That's as close as the Miners would come though. Rice would answer with a six play 83 yard touchdown drive in 2:21 that put them right back up by double digits at 24-13.
There wouldn't be much action the rest of the way, but following a fumble on a punt that deflected off a Miner blocker, Rice would tack on one more score, giving them the final margin of 18 at 31-13.
Jackson led the way for the Owls passing, and also rushed for 53 yards on 11 carries. Jowan Davis was the leading rusher with 63 yards on 21 carries, and Mario Hull finished with 150 yards and a touchdown on 6 catches.
Jameill Showers led the way for the Miners, going 17 of 30 for 209 yards, while also carrying for the Miners' lone touchdown. Nathan Jeffery and Aaron Jones each carried 7 times for a total of 50 yards, and Ian Hamilton broke out once again for 130 yards on 4 catches. He did however leave the game late with an apparent shoulder injury.
As a team, Rice outgained the Miners 392 to 262 while racking up 17 first downs to 12 for UTEP. The Miners also lost the turnover battle 2-1, and time of possession 31:51 to 28:09.
While the game was close for a while, the truth is it seemed Rice had the Miners' number most of the night. The Miners, not so surprisingly, found the most success offensively airing the ball out to Ian Hamilton.
The loss drops the Miners to 6-5 overall and 4-3 in Conference USA play. Don't look now, but that could leave the Miners really needing a win to end the season next weekend at home against Middle Tennessee.
Should the Miners lose that one, it could leave them in the 6th spot in line for a bowl bid, with losses against most of the teams ahead of them. That's something we shouldn't be too worried about, but it is something to keep in mind. Kickoff for next week's game is slated for 5:00 p.m. MT.
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