For twenty minutes, UTEP and their defense kept it close, and hung in with the Arizona Wildcats.
Though the usual ineptness that is the UTEP Miners offense struggled drive, after first half drive, and the UTEP defense finally broke down after the UTEP offense could not sustain, and Arizona rolled over UTEP 63-16 in the Sun Bowl Friday night.
Arizona quarterback Brandon Dawkins was spectacular, going 18-for-22 passing for 155 yards, and three touchdowns. He also rushed for 143 yards, and three more touchdowns on ground.
Dawkins started 12-for-13 passing in the first half, and shredded the UTEP defense all night.
UTEP actually kept Arizona out of the end zone in the opening quarter, but the Dawkins and the Wildcats ran away with four second quarter touchdown drives, and a back breaking punt return that deflated UTEP’s early effort.
Arizona found the end zone on the first play of the second quarter after a lengthy eight play, 86-yard drive that included a fourth down conversion.
Facing a fourth-and-goal from the UTEP two-yard line, Brandon Dawkins sold a nice play fake, and found running back J.J. Taylor for a short touchdown pass with 14:57 left until halftime.
The Wildcats would score again after another UTEP punt, and this time Dawkins found Shun Brown splitting UTEP’s cover-two with a deep 36-yard touchdown pass with 9:45 left until halftime.
On the very next play from scrimmage, Kavika Johnson would be stripped on a wildcat option, and the Cats would take over and cash in once again.
Dawkins would run in another touchdown, this time from five yards out, just five plays later, and the Wildcats led 21-0 with 7:24 left until the halftime break.
UTEP would end up punting on four of their first five possessions of the game, including a pair of three-and-outs, and the fumble by Johnson.
Shun Brown found pay dirt again, this time he took a 63-yard punt return to the house, breaking free with a highlight reel spin around the 15-yard line, making it 28-0 Arizona with 5:34 left in the second quarter.
UTEP put together a quick five play, 66-yard scoring drive with Greenlee finding Tyler Batson for a nine yard score off a play action, and UTEP trimmed the lead to 28-6.
The Miner D came up with a huge stop on the ensuing possession, and UTEP took over at the Arizona 43-yard line, showing a sign of life.
Although UTEP called for a middle screen to avoid a heavy Arizona blitz, but Greenlee lobbed a pass that would be picked off by Colin Schooler who brought it back to the UTEP five yard line.
Three plays later Dawkins took it in from three yards out for his fourth score of the half, and Arizona led 35-9 at halftime.
Dawkins made it 42-9 with his fifth touchdown on a 13-yard touchdown run, and the rout was on just three minutes into the second half.
Mark Torrez came in relief for Zack Greenlee and went 6-for-21 passing for 59 yards, he also scored on a six yard touchdown run early in the third quarter.
Greenlee ended the night 11-for-17 passing for 104 yards, and a score. Terry Juniel led UTEP with four catches for 82 yards.
UTEP’s ground game was flat out horrible as the Miners rushed for just 17 yards on 14 carries, ending with 218 total yards. The Miners were an anemic 2-for-12 on third down tries.
Arizona ran for 326 yards, and nearly doubled the Miners time of possession with final TOP of 36:02, and were 8-for-15 on third downs.
UTEP drops to 0-3 on the season, losing by 40 or more points for the second straight game which hasn’t happened since 2012.