Aaron Jones rushed for a career high 237 yards and three touchdowns as the Miners racked up 330 yards on the ground and narrowly escaped with a 31-24 win.
The first half couldn't have gone more to plan. The Miners came out with great intensity, discipline, and focus and cashed in an 8 play 75 yard drive for seven to take an early 7-0 lead over the Lobos.
Following back to back punts, New Mexico's Cole Gautsche hit the corner and ran away from the Miner defense for a 68 yard scamper that pulled the game even at seven with still 7:16 to go in the first quarter.
The Miners would then reel off 17 unanswered points capped by a 73 yard Jones touchdown run to go up 24-17 at the half. Unfortunately for UTEP fans though, this game was far from over.
New Mexico came out of the locker rooms and ran their triple option down the field on a 10 play 83 yard drive capped off by a 13 yard Teriyon Gipson run. That score pulled the Lobos to within 10 at 24-14.
The Miners wouldn't be able to get anything going offensively for much of the second half, and two more scoring drives would eventually tie the game up at 24 with 8:10 left to play.
A UTEP three and out would give the ball right back to New Mexico, and despite driving the ball deep into Miner territory the Lobos would be unable to capitalize as a Jhurrel Pressley fumble gave the ball back to the Miners with 4:33 to go.
The Lobo defense would once again hold, forcing a UTEP punt, but a muff inside his own 5 yard line by New Mexico's Dameon Gamblin would virtually seal the Lobo's fate.
Aaron Jones would punch in his third score of the night, giving the Miners the 31-24 lead. UNM would be able to drive the ball into Miner territory, but an Adrian James interception would seal the victory.
Jameill Showers finished the night with 116 yards and 1 touchdown on 11 of 22 passing. The aforementioned Aaron Jones led the way on the ground, and Nathan Jeffery also chipped in with 84 yards on 14 carries. Jarrad Shaw was the Miners' leading receiver hauling in 4 catches for 76 yards and a score.
The Lobos were led by Cole Gautsche, who passed for just 36 yards on 3 of 5 attempts, but rushed for a team leading 184 yards and 2 scores on just 14 carries. He actually pulled up with an apparent hamstring injury on the Lobos game tying drive, and never returned to the game.
Jhurrell Presley also had a solid night, finishing with 84 yards rushing on 9 carries. Teriyon Gipson also went for 74 yards and a score as the Lobos racked up 410 yards on the ground.
The bottom line in this one is; a win is win no matter how you get it. But, the truth is that the Miners were very fortunate (lucky) to be able to come away with the win.
They played extremely well, make that extremely impressive, for the entire first half of the ball game. However, the vast majority of the second half looked much like the team of a year ago.
Turnovers were obviously the key, where the Miners were +4. Of course, its great that they were able to take care of the ball, but there's no question the late fumbles were the deciding factors in this game.
Also, the Gautsche injury was no doubt a blessing for the Miners' defense. They had absolutely no answer for him in the second half, and he was in the process of completing a potential go ahead drive when he went out.
Again, in the end, a win is a win, and I know everyone in Miner Nation will take the 1-0 start. But, the Miners will have to continue to improve, and be able to put four quarters together in order to have a successful season.
Up next, the Miners welcome Texas Tech into the Sun Bowl for a bit of an odd 9:00 p.m. kick time. That game will be carried live by Fox Sports 1.
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