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Old Dominion's strong second half buries UTEP 31-21

The Eastern Time Zone winless streak extends to 21 as the Miners were shut down in the second half in a 31-21 loss to Old Dominion.

Robert Mayer-USA TODAY Sports

Old Dominion held UTEP to just 45-yards on the Miners first six second half drives to put UTEP away 31-21 with a strong second half defensive performance.

The Monarchs out gained UTEP 441-to-305 in the ball game, and forced the UTEP offense into a 6-out-of-16 mark on the third downs on the afternoon.

ODU wide receiver Zach Pascal torched the UTEP secondary with 12 catches for 145 yards and a touchdown, while David Washington threw for 291 yards and two touchdowns.

Although it was the Miners who came out with a perfectly scripted drive to get on the board first.

UTEP would drive 71-yards on 10 plays with Mack Leftwich finding Tyler Batson on a fade in the left corner of the end-zone from seven yards out to give UTEP a 6-0 lead after the extra point was botched.

ODU would answer five and a half minutes later with a 23-yard field goal by Chris Kirtley after a 14-play, 86 yard drive on ODU's first possession.

Autrey Golden would return the ensuing the kickoff 61-yards to the ODU 25-yard line, but UTEP would end up settling for a 22-yard field goal by Jay Mattox six plays later to take a 9-3 lead at the 1:19 mark of the first quarter.

ODU's star running back Ray Lawry gave ODU their first lead of the afternoon by shaking off a few UTEP arm tackles en route to a 42-yard run 30-seconds into the second quarter that put the Monarchs up 10-9.

Both defense's would each force a pair of punts in the second quarter until both offense's got themselves on the board in the final minutes before halftime.

UTEP would drive 51-yards on 7 plays capped off by a 12-yard touchdown pass from Leftwich to Jaquan White on a wide receiver screen to put UTEP back in front 15-10 with 1:04 left until halftime.

But the UTEP defense would fold on a 3rd-and-10 on the ensuing ODU drive when David Washington found Jeremy Cox out of the back field for a 23-yard gain after breaking three tackles that kept ODU's final drive of the half moving.

Washington would go 5-of-6 for 66 yards on the drive and went up top to Zach Pascal on a deep route for a 26-yard score that finished off a quick 8-play, 75-yard that took just 58 seconds giving ODU major momentum, and a 17-15 halftime lead.

ODU would average 6.8 yards per play, and racked up 246 yards in the first half, while UTEP managed a balanced 166 yards in the first thirty minutes.

The Miners would go three-and-out three straight times to open the second half, while ODU found the endzone for the only score of the third quarter to create some separation on the scoreboard that the Miners couldn't close in on.

Washington hooked up with Jonathon Durhart for an 11-yard touchdown pass that finished a 10-play 71 yard drive and gave ODU a two score, 24-15 lead with 1:04 left in the third quarter.

Mack Leftwich started the ball game 4-of-5 passing for 35 yards, but would go on 9-out-of-22 stretch for 71 yards and an interception that led to Old Dominion shutting the door.

Add in a number of dropped passes, and questionable early down play calling, and the Old Dominion defense dug in and put the Miners slim bowl hopes to an almost full rest.

After an interception by ODU's Fellonte Misher to end Leftwich's struggling stretch, Jeremy Cox put this one officially out of reach on the very next play from scrimmage with a 42-yard run off left tackle to give ODU a 31-15 lead with 5:02 left in the game.

UTEP would manage to get on the board one more time, thanks to 55-yards receiving from Warren Redix, and a six-yard touchdown strike from Leftwich to Jaquan White to finish an 8-play, 74-yard drive with 3:09 left in the fourth quarter.

Leftwich was sacked twice, and finished 21-of-38 for 193 yards with three touchdowns, and two interceptions.  Warren Redix hauled in four catches good for 75 yards, nine different Miners caught passes in the ball game.

UTEP was just way too inconsistent in all phases of the game and despite Ray Lawry missing the second half with a leg injury for ODU, the Monarchs ran for 150 yards led by Jeremy Cox who finished with 84 yards on 15 carries.

The Miners averaged 4.1 yards per play in the second half, and were forced into 3-of-9 third down conversion mark in the second half, with only seven first downs in the final thirty minutes after 12 first downs in the first half.

UTEP drops to 4-6 overall on the season with LA Tech coming to the Sun Bowl next Saturday afternoon.

With a visibly worn down and depleted roster due to injury, the 2015 bowl window for the Miners might be fully shut.