El Paso, TX — Kenneth Dixon rushed for 200 yards, and LA Tech racked up 353 in the ground game in a 38-35 win over UTEP on Saturday night in the Sun Bowl.
The Bulldogs (2-3, 0-2 C-USA) won their fourth in a row in El Paso and by the same score as the last time the teams met in the stadium in 2003. The Miners (1-4, 0-2 C-USA) dropped to 0-3 at home for the first time since 1992.
Jameill Showers completed 18-of-33 passes for 237 yards and three TDs for UTEP, and Jordan Leslie went over 100 yards receiving for the third time in four games with five catches for 114 yards. Aaron Jones added 121 rushing yards for the Miners.
The Bulldogs scored 24 unanswered points after Showers gave UTEP a 7-0 lead on a one-yard touchdown run with 11:17 remaining in the first quarter. The Miners cut the 17-point deficit to 10 (24-14) late in the second quarter on Showers’ 28-yard pass to Leslie. UTEP had a chance to pull closer before halftime when Richard Spencer forced and recovered a fumble by the Bulldogs’ Ryan Higgins at the Miner 25-yard line, but time ran out as he returned the ball to the LA Tech 17-yard line.
The Miners pulled within a field goal (24-21) early in the third quarter when LA Tech’s D.J. Banks fumbled a punt return, and Trey Brown recovered the ball in the end zone for a touchdown. The Bulldogs reinstated a 10-point lead (31-21) on Higgins’ two-yard run with 7:35 remaining in the period. UTEP answered with a three-play, 72-yard drive, capped by a 65-yard touchdown pass from Showers to Leslie, to make the score 31-28.
The backbreaker came at the start of the fourth quarter with LA Tech, facing third and 21 at its own one-yard line, moved the ball to the Miner 27-yard line on a 72-yard run by Kenneth Dixon. Three plays later, Dixon punched it into the end zone with a nine-yard rushing TD.
UTEP mounted an 11-play, 69-yard drive, but Jay Mattox’s 22-yard field goal was blocked by LA Tech’s Daniel Cobb.
The Miners closed the gap to three points (38-35) with 1:03 remaining on a six-yard touchdown pass from Showers to Craig Wenrick. But the Bulldogs recovered the onside kick and UTEP, with no timeouts, was unable to stop the clock.
UTEP will close out a two-game homestand next Saturday (Oct. 12) against Tulsa at 6 p.m. MT.