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UTEP football: Ryan Metz goes legend in UTEP's rally

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Two unlikely heroes kept UTEP's Battle of I-10 streak alive.

It was pretty much over.

Tyler Rogers threw a beauty to Teldrick Morgan on a nicely ran wheel route for a 19-yard score, giving the Aggies a 44-30 lead with 4:07 left.  Fans on both sides headed for the exits, and the goal posts at Aggie Memorial were sadly, and probably coming down.

Then Ryan Metz went legend.

With Metz calling his own plays on the game tying drive that covered 98-yards in a little over a minute, the former Andress grad went a cool, calm, and collected 8/10 for 135 yards in the wild finish that was the final four minutes of the game.

"The coaches trusted me with handling the drive." Metz said. " I can't thank them enough for just believing in me and the belief that the guys had in me.  This team just rallied together."

He would finish his magical night 15/19 for 218 yards with all three touchdowns through the air coming in crunch time, also adding the tying rushing touchdown with under a minute left.

Metz who isn't known for being a vocal leader, was not only instrumental in making plays, but was also poised, and was a vocal and emotional leader the Miner sideline needed at quarterback during the wild come back effort.

"Metz did a great job." Cedrick Lang who caught the game winner said.  "He was so calm, really positive and kept the team together. I give him a lot of credit for that, he threw that first pick and he comes over to the sideline and says my bad guys, I'm going to pick it up, and he did. "

"He did an unbelievable job."  Sean Kugler said. "He had two, two minute drives, the first one he did have the benefit of having timeouts.  The last one was a 98-yard drive with no timeouts, the kid was calling his own plays."

The biggest play call of the game was Metz's decision for a QB draw which would cap off the legendary 98-yard drive that tied the game at 44 with 42 seconds left.

"It was a quarterback draw." Metz said of the final play call.  "Don't ask me why, I just felt that it was going to work, and it did.  I think the lord really put that play in my head, thank god, this is just unbelievable."

"He got in there early, and got rattled a little bit." Kugler said.  "He overcame it, he fought, and he called his own plays during both those drives and took the offense right down the field."

"The play at the end of the game that was a beauty because I probably would have never called that, but he did, and it took a lot cahones on his part to do it.  With no time left on the clock that takes major cahones."

Who wrote the script in where Ryan Metz and Cedrick Lang would be heroes in the I-10 Rivalry.

Kugler wouldn't say if Metz is now the guy going forward after the game, but UTEP may have found a quarterback of the future after a fourth quarter performance that will go down in recent UTEP football history as just flat out, straight up, legendary.

Biggest play of the game

As a great story that was Ryan Metz's gutsy performance, UTEP's senior linebacker came up with THE biggest play of the game.

With the UTEP defense defending a third and four that could have ended the game with a conversion.   Rogers dumped off a pass to running back Larry Rose who had turned things on in the second half, but it was Jimmy Musgrave who made a tough open field tackle dropping Rose a yard short of the first down, giving Ryan Metz the ball back.

"I had the back man on that."  Musgrave said.  "I tried to run as fast as I could and tracked the back of his hip.   When he stopped I thought he would try a jump cut like he always does but I got a hold of him and he's pretty light so I was able to pull him down with one hand. "

Alvin Jones, Kelvin Fisher come up big for the defense.

UTEP's defense struggled again allowing 8.7 yards per play for the game, but Alvin Jones and Kelvin Fisher Jr. had the best games of their UTEP careers.

Jones was everywhere for UTEP, racking up 11 tackles, 1.5 sacks, and five TFL's

Fisher was consistent throughout the game, and recorded UTEP's first takeaway of the season with an interception, and also added five tackles.

The biggest concern was how the defense would respond to getting torched over and over again once the game got close in the the final four minutes, but Fisher says heart outweighed scheme in the final four minutes of the game and in overtime.

"We knew that we could stop them on defense." Fisher said. "Once we started playing our game, you saw the results.  We went through some adversity with obviously some plays that they got.  For me and the rest of my teammates we just were like don't give up.  Every second counts."

Tyler Batson and wide receivers come alive

One of Ryan Metz's biggest targets on the final drive was sophomore wide out Tyler Batson.

Batson set a career high with four catches for 61 yards, three of those catches and 55 of those yards came on that final scoring drive in regulation.

Cole Freytag hauled in the 48-yard touchdown strike to pull UTEP within a score, and also pulled in an important 10 yard reception on "The Drive."

Jaquan White was also consistent with five important catches for 48 yards, and showed his juice with the momentum changing 64-yard punt return house call early in the fourth quarter.

All three are crucial to UTEP's success in the pass game going forward, and showed how each of their strong fall camps can translate into production in the regular season.

And we all know what Autrey Golden brings.

Batson was huge and has potential to become a legit star, Freytag was fearless, and White was tough as nails, giving UTEP a nice trio of complimentary receivers who finally emerged on Saturday.

UTEP's by committee rushing attack was effective

Despite being stuffed on a few third down and short plays in which play calling was questionable (play action, Higgins.), UTEP's by committee approach in replacing Aaron Jones was pretty darn effective.

Darrin Laufasa averaged 10.6 yards per carry on eight carries,  LaQuintus Dowell averaged 6.9 on 11 carries, Jeremiah Laufasa averaged 5.2 yards per carry, and Kavika Johnson averaged 4.4 yards per clip out of the Wild Miner.

UTEP rushed for 271 yards as a team, with a 6.1 yard per carry average, and only had two negative rush plays the only netted minus two yards.

The offensive line was again solid and nasty, keeping the Aggie defense off balance in stopping the run consistently was UTEP's numerous rushing packages.

Dowell, Darrin Laufasa own the Aggies.

LaQuintus Dowell's 40-yard touchdown run in the first quarter gave flashbacks to 2013.

Dowell rumbled 54-yards for a score in 2013 in the same north direction giving Sean Kugler his first career win.

Two of Dowell's longest runs in his career have been at AMS, and the senior now has 135 rushing yards on just 13 carries in Aggie Memorial with two touchdowns.

All five of Darrin Laufasa's career touchdowns have came against NMSU, he also set a career high last night with 85 rushing yards surpassing his career high of 74 which came against NMSU in 2013.

Notes, milestones

The 97 combined points is the second most combined points in the I-10 rivalry, and first overtime game in the history of the series.

Mack Leftwich's punt marked the seventh time a UTEP quarterback has punted under Sean Kugler

Alvin Jones five tackles for loss were the the most by a Miner since Menson Holloway in 2000.

Autrey Golden scored his 11th career touchdown on the 26-yard catch from Metz in the third quarter.

Jaquan White's 64-yard punt return for a score was the first Miner to return a punt to the house since Johnnie Lee Higgins in 2006.

Mack Leftwich did suffer a concussion and is status going forward is unknown, a source told me he was pretty shaken up after the hit happened.

Ryan Metz post game interview

Posted by Miner Rush on Saturday, September 19, 2015

Cedrick Lang post game interview

Posted by Miner Rush on Saturday, September 19, 2015