UTEP Falls Short Against Texas Tech, 45-31
Sept. 8, 2007
Graham Harrell threw for 484 yards, and Michael Crabtree caught two touchdown passes as Texas Tech erased an early 21-7 deficit and handed UTEP its first loss of the season, 45-31, on Saturday night at Jones AT&T Stadium in Lubbock.
The Red Raiders (2-0) scored on five straight possessions, with four touchdowns and a field goal, after UTEP went ahead 28-14 midway through the second quarter.
"We played hard, and the game plan was pretty good," UTEP coach Mike Price said. "We just made some mistakes in key situations. We had a chance there ... I don't know if we let them off the hook or they worked their way off the hook."
After Texas Tech scored the game's first touchdown on a one-yard run by Kobey Lewis with 11:57 remaining in the first quarter, UTEP (1-1) rattled off 21 unanswered points.
The Miners completed a 13-play, 75-yard drive with an eight-yard pass from Trevor Vittatoe to Jeff Moturi. Harrell fumbled the ball on the Red Raiders' next two possessions, and UTEP turned both giveaways into short touchdown drives. First Vittatoe hit Joe West for a 41-yard score, then Marcus Thomas - making his 2007 season debut - plunged into the end zone for two yards.
"You never really feel comfortable against this team because they're so capable offensively," Price said.
After Texas Tech closed to within 21-14 on a six-yard pass from Harrell to Crabtree, UTEP answered with a 12-play, 91-yard TD drive, punctuated by Thomas' three-yard scoring run.
UTEP forced Tech to punt on the ensuing possession. Trying to pad their two-touchdown lead, the Miners drove to their own 45-yard line. On third down with 11 yards to go, Vittatoe threw a pass to Jamar Hunt that would have been good for first down yardage, but Hunt bobbled the ball with 52 seconds to go in the half.
The 52 seconds was enough time for the Red Raiders to drive 54 yards and set up Alex Trlica's 45-yard field goal, making UTEP's lead 28-17 at the midway point.
Texas Tech pulled within 28-24 on its opening drive of the second half, punctuated by a nine-yard pass from Harrell to Crabtree.
The Red Raiders went ahead 31-28 on a three-yard pass from Harrell to Danny Amendola with 4:38 to go in the third quarter, but the Miners knotted up the contest with nine seconds remaining in the period on a 25-yard field goal by Jose Martinez.
Texas Tech regained the lead, 38-31, with a swift nine-play, 80-yard touchdown drive that took only a minute and 29 seconds. Harrell connected with Grant Walker for an eight-yard touchdown.
The Red Raiders went ahead by two touchdowns on a two-yard scoring run by Shannon Woods with 9:25 left in the game, ending a seven-play, 80-yard drive that elapsed 1:19.
Texas Tech had 561 yards of offense and the Miners totaled 431, including 215 rushing.
The Red Raiders went on a 31-3 run after UTEP built its 28-14 margin.
"We didn't do the things we're capable of doing in the second half - catching the ball and holding onto the ball," Price said.
Thomas rushed 22 times for 85 yards, and Terrell Jackson posted 60 yards on nine carries. Vittatoe completed 12 of 26 passes for 202 yards. West was the Miners' leading receiver with five catches for 101 yards - his first career 100-yard game.
Crabtree (15 catches-188 yards) and Amendola (12-101) both had 100-yard receiving nights for Tech.
UTEP and New Mexico State will renew their I-10 rivalry next Saturday (Sept. 15) in Las Cruces. Kickoff is slated for 6 p.m. MST.
The Miners' 215 yards rushing were their most in a game since compiling 266 versus New Mexico State in 2004, and their most in a road game since 2003 at Hawaii (244) ... UTEP scored 28 points in the first half after tallying a total of 27 points in its previous three trips to Lubbock ... the Miners dropped to 7-26-1 all-time versus Big 12 opponents with their 14th straight setback to a school from that league.