Texas Tech used a balanced attack, and some clutch defense late in fourth quarter to hold off upset minded UTEP, 30-26 late Saturday night in the Sun Bowl.
The Miners would strike first on a pair of drives that would end with Jay Mattox field goals, taking a 6-0 lead after a 8 play 44 yard drive was halted, but the Miner would cash in on a 27 yard boot from Mattox to end the first quarter.
On the first play from scrimmage to start the second quarter, Texas Tech's Justin Stockton would take a carry 75 yards to the house for a game breaking score, though the Miners would snuff a swing gate sweep try on the following two point conversion attempt, leaving the game tied at six just twelve seconds into the second quarter.
After UTEP went three and out on the following drive after the Red Raider score, the Miner defense would tighten up and hold Tech to field goal after allowing the Red Raiders to drive inside the 11 yard line, Ryan Bustin put three on the board with a 28 yard field goal with 10:47 left in the half.
UTEP would answer the ensuing drive with a 10 play 75 yard touchdown drive, capped off by a 19 yard touchdown run to paydirt by Aaron Jones that gave UTEP a 13-9 lead and plenty of momentum with 4:43 left until halftime.
Tech would answer with 2:41 left to play in the half after Davis Webb found Bradley Marquez for an 11 yard touchdown strike that would send the game into halftime with the Red Raiders leading 16-13.
Both teams traded defensive stops to start the second half, until Tech's offense grabbed control after a lengthy touchdown drive.
Webb hit Marquez again for a score to finish a drive, this time a 13 yard screen pass to seal off a momentum changing 9 play 83 yard push that took 3:52 seconds, and gave Tech a 23-13 lead with 6:27 to play in the third quarter.
Though the Miners would just not go away.
Thanks to a Texas Tech substitution infraction, and sideline interference calls that allowed UTEP to continue a drive on a fourth down punt attempt, five plays later Jeremiah Laufasa took a hand-off 24 yards for a score on a second and six right up the middle to finish out a 13 play 75 yard touchdown drive aided by the Red Raider miscue. Jay Mattox would miss the extra point, but UTEP was right back in it down 23-19 as the third quarter ended.
Despite giving up 504 yards of offense, the Miner defense was solid on third downs, forcing Tech into a 6 out 16 conversion percentage for the game.
After a series of back-to-back three and outs from the Miner defense, the Miner offense responded with a much needed touchdown drive.
Lead by Aaron Jones, the Miners marched 88 yards on 11 plays, in which Jones had 33 yards on 4 carries during the drive, including a nine yard touchdown run to give UTEP back the lead at 26-23 with 5:05 left in the game.
On the ensuing drive with Texas Tech turning up the tempo caught the Miners slipping after picking up a first down on the no huddle transition and with the Miners not even close to being set Justin Stockton took a called run 24 yards inside the UTEP 12 to giving them a huge first down with the Miners playing on their heels.
Two plays later Webb found Marquez in the end zone for the third time on the night, this time a perfectly timed flag route that gave Tech back the lead 30-26 at the 2:32 mark of the fourth quarter.
Autrey Golden returned the ensuing kickoff 52 yards to the Texas Tech 48 yard line, though UTEP was helped by a face mask penalty called on Taylor Symmank that moved the ball up to the Texas Tech 33 yard line with 2:23 to go.
Though the Miners would stall out on fourth down after some curious play calling saw UTEP gain just four yards on the first three downs before Showers fired incomplete on an all for the marbles fourth down play that would send Texas Tech into victory formation closing out the final minute.
Davis Webb finished 17/31 for 278 yards through the air, though the Miners won the time of possession 39 minutes even to 21 minutes even, they just left way too many points out on the field when they needed it the most going 4 for 11 on third downs.
Jakeem Grant had 8 huge catches for 158 yards, Marquez had only three catches, but all resulted in Texas Tech touchdowns. Justin Stockton ran for 135 yards on just 9 carries for the victorious Red Raiders.
Aaron Jones ran for 147 yards on two touchdowns for the Miners, Showers struggled throughout the night finishing 9/25 for 116 yards, though he didn't turn the ball over.
Moral victory of sorts for the Miners who left it all on the field, but came up short on the offensive end one to many times throughout the night/early morning.
The loss drops the Miners to 1-1 on the long season as a match up with hated rival NMSU is on the horizon next Saturday.