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UTEP Opens Things up in 27-17 Win Over Florida Atlantic

Sean Kugler and Patrick Higgins finally opened up the playbook, pulling out all the stops in a nice 27-17 win over Florida Atlantic Saturday night in the Sun Bowl.

Mack Leftwich passed for 271 yards and had 3 passing touchdowns in his return, and the Miners had perhaps their most balanced offensive attack of the season in a 27-17 win over the Florida Atlantic Owls.

This one started exactly how the Miners needed, as after FAU moved the balled for a couple first downs on the opening possession, the UTEP defense would stand up strong on a 4th and 1, turning the Owls over on downs.

The offense would go three and out on their first possession, but the defense would again make a play, recovering a fumble the ensuing Florida Atlantic possession.

The Miners wouldn't let that 2nd opportunity go to waste, moving 80 yards in just 3 plays to take a 7-0 lead. Mack Leftwich would complete a short pass to Tyler Batson who would do the rest of the work scoring from 76 yards out on the play.

A punt by FAU and missed field goal by the Miners would follow, and then it would be the Owls' turn to get on the board. They would use a 5 play 65 yard drive to get three, cutting the UTEP lead to 7-3 with with 12:45 left in the second quarter.

Following a pair of punts, the touchdowns would start to come. FAU would score midway through the second on a 3 yard run by Greg Howell, giving the Owls their first lead of the night at 10-7.

UTEP would answer just over three minutes later, using a 6 play 76 yard drive capped by a 17 yard catch and score from Leftwich to Jaquan White to reclaim their lead at 14-10. The Owls would have the last of the half though, scoring in just over a minute on a 38 yard run by Trey Rodriguez, giving them a 17-14 lead at the break.

That would be the last time the Owls would score though, as the Miners would have a 9 play 76 yard drive capped by Batson's second score of the night midway through the third, and they wouldn't look back from there.

The UTEP defense and special teams would come up with two more big turnovers, and a pair of big time kicks by Jay Mattox in the 4th quarter would extend the Miners' lead out to their final margin of victory of 10 at 27-17.

Mack Leftwich led the way for the Miners completing 20 of his 39 passes for 271 yards and 3 scores. LaQuintas Dowell finished with 73 yards on 15 carries leading the way on the ground, but Jeremiah Laufasa was right behind him going for 71 yards on 18 carries.

Tyler Batson finished the night with just 3 catches, but racked up 143 yards receiving and 2 touchdowns. Jaquan White finished with 43 yards on 4 receptions and had a score of his own.

Florida Atlantic was led by Jaquez Johnson who finished the night 14 of 22 for 263 yards and 1 interception. Trey Rodriguez finished with 114 yards on the ground on just 7 carries, and Jenson Stoshak racked up 130 yards through the air on 6 grabs.

The win improves the Miners to 3-4 on the season, and also gives them their first Conference USA win of the year moving that mark to 1-2. Florida Atlantic falls to 1-6 and 1-3 on the year.

Up next, the Miners will head to Hattiesburg, MS to take on the Southern Miss Golden Eagles who are having their best year in some time. Kickoff in that contest is slated for 12:30 p.m. MT.

Make sure to stay tuned to MinerRush for coverage of all things UTEP sports. Also, make sure to on Twitter and as always don't forget to like our Facebook Page. Picks Up, and Go Miners!