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Army Pulls Away From UTEP for 35-21 win

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NCAA Football: Texas El Paso at Army Danny Wild-USA TODAY Sports

The Miners held a brief lead, their first of the entire season, and saw the breakout of sophomore tailback Quardraiz Wadley, but it wouldn’t be nearly enough to find their first win of the season and the first win ever in the Eastern Time Zone.

Army ran for 350 yards and scored on five of six offensive drives starting early in the second quarter quarter until they led 35-14 in the fourth quarter.

The lone possession during that stretch was a clock bleeding run to end the first half, and the Miners had zero answers for Army’s triple-option attack for the second straight season.

Both teams would start slow, with a pair of punts to open the game, but UTEP would turn to a steady dose of Wadley that led to points.

UTEP’s second possession would go 83 yards in 15 plays, including 9 carries for 67 yards by the sophomore, resulting in a one yard touchdown run by the Kennedale, Texas native and a 7-0 lead near the end of the first quarter.

Army would quickly respond, needing only 5 plays and 2:32 to go 75 yards to tie the game at 7-7. The Black Knights averaged 7.1 yards per carry in the ball game led by quarterback Ahmad Bradshaw who ran for 100 yards on just 14 carries.

UTEP would find success moving the ball on their next possession, but a failed trick play would leave them in a 3rd and very long, and they would be forced to give the ball right back to the Knights.

A long field would prove to be no obstacle for Army as they would move 93 yards in 7:30 behind Andy Davidson and Calen Holt. Holt would take it the final 19 yards, giving the Black Knights a 14-7 lead with 2:42 remaining in the half.

The Miners would still have some fight left though, as they would put together one of their more impressive drives of the season to end the half.

Wadley would continue to be the workhorse, but a pair of passes by Zack Greenlee, including a 26-yarder to Tyler Batson would move the Miners down the field and into position, allowing them to tie the game at 14 as halftime approached.

Greenlee came off the bench and went 7-for-13 for 88 yards and threw a two yard touchdown pass to David Lucero which tied the game right before the half.

The second half would spell trouble for the Miners as they would punt on their first two possessions, while giving up touchdowns to Army on their first two, which put them behind 28-14 midway through the third.

Army would march down the field for their third straight score early in the fourth, this time a 13-yard dash from Connor Slomka put six on the board, giving the Knights a 35-14 lead, and essentially driving the nail into coffin.

UTEP wouldn’t lay down though, and would continue to fight to the end, and showed a pulse for the first time all season.

They would have a sustained drive stall deep in Army territory that had a would-be Kavika Johnson touchdown called back on a holding penalty, and would later score on a highlight reel pick six from Kahani Smith, but it just wouldn’t be enough to get the win.

Wadley carried 28 times, and netted 156 yards on the ground plus a touchdown, Tyler Batson was solid catching five balls for 80 yards.

But as the story goes with the UTEP offense, third down struggles, and a 9-for-18 passing mark by UTEP quarterbacks led to just 110 yards through the air for UTEP.

The Miners were also 9-for-18 on third tries, and the Black Knights were able to keep themselves out of thrid and longs with an efficient run game.

Ryan Metz would improvise inside the 10-yard line on UTEP’s first scoring drive, and took a big hit to his previously injured shoulder and left the game in the first quarter and never returned.

UTEP drops to 0-5, finishing up their out of conference slate and will host WKU for the first time ever in the Sun Bowl next weekend.