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Beyond The Box Score: "The Play"

For the 27,455 in attendance, Jameel Erving's interception will be forever billed as the "The Play".


He was the last one to sub in on the package, he was the last one to get the play call, but first to break on the ball.

Jameel Erving's road to greatness didn't start on that second-and-goal from the six-yard line tip to self interception from a blitzing Erving who batted an Austin Grammer pass at the 13 yard line and hawked it in around the 20 yard line.

It started when the young man was faced with suspension last season.

It started when the young man faced the adversity of a losing 2-10 season and seeing younger guys get more playing time, which during his JUCO years was never the occurrence on either end.

Erving's stardom began when just like when his fellow 23 seniors got theirs......when they all bought in back in January where the hardwork, and character building for 2014 began

Character building you ask?

It takes character to come up with an effort play that results in a turnover in the final minutes of a game, especially on a drive where Middle Tennessee gashed the Miner defense twice for big yards, and were looking for their seventh straight win decided in the final minute or overtime.

Its takes character to bounce back from the disaster of occurrences that was last year for Erving, and turn things around to be a leader and key defensive part for a program who is celebrating its first winning season in nearly a decade.

It also takes character to bounce back from making a costly special teams mistake the week before, and do what Erving did on that play.

Watching the replay on TV, the announcers knew it, if you watch Wesley Miller and Erving talking before the play, they knew it.

Erving on the substitution confusion and interception:

"It was just a great feeling, I knew it would give us another chance to win the game.  We knew needed a turnover, it was great I could make that play especially in my last time in the Sun Bowl."

"We got the personnel late, and they were switching a lot of personnel.  Our defense is really personnel predicated, so I ran on the field late, got the call late.  I really was just playing and I can't really even say anything about it.  It was just so fast, I remember running, then I remember the ball in the air, I didn't even know if I caught it"

Chase Pennycuff ran a delayed route straight to the left flat from a TE/H-Back position off a play action from Austin Grammer, Pennycuff bubbled out wide open and Erving did something he wasn't supposed too.

"I wasn't supposed to jump to the ball, I was supposed to run through him, but I ended jumping and it went good" Erving said.  Good enough for his first career interception indeed.

If Erving didn't jump, Pennycuff would have been one-on-one at about the four of five yard line with Miller, though Erving made THE biggest, and best defensive play in UTEP history.

When I asked Jameel if Scott Stoker would give him some lip service in film session today about jumping for the ball  with a big smile Erving replied. "Yeah because we work for perfection, but he'll probably just be kidding about it"

Erving was right, the defense was not perfect, they allowed two 100 yard rushers, though like they have came through time after time this season: THE BIG PLAY SCOTT STOKER DEFENSE SAVED THE DAY, AND THE MINERS ARE 7-5!

We all know the result of a final drive like that from UTEP defense's of the past, but what Sean Kugler is doing is building the mental toughness to fight through those situations, and in turn #MakeHistory.

Gameball: Jameel Erving, and the offensive line