UTEP Falls At New Mexico
StoryUTEP’s first game at New Mexico in five years was reminiscent of its last appearance in Albuquerque.
The Miners fell behind 19-0 early in the second quarter on their way to a 26-13 loss to the Lobos on Saturday at University Stadium.
In 2001 UTEP, coming off a Humanitarian Bowl appearance, was beaten by New Mexico, 26-6, in the season opener for both teams.
This time around the Miners (1-2) managed only a 36-yard field goal by Reagan Schneider in the opening half. UTEP had four first downs and 83 yards of offense prior to the intermission, gaining 24 yards rushing on 15 carries.
The game was nearly 20 minutes old when UTEP picked up its initial first down, and nearly 23 minutes old when Johnnie Lee Higgins, Jr. caught his first pass.
The game took a turn for the worse almost immediately, as Miner quarterback Jordan Palmer was sacked for the first time this season on the third offensive play and fumbled the football. New Mexico’s Major Mosley recovered at the UTEP 21 yard-line, setting up an eight-yard touchdown pass from Chris Nelson to Rodney Ferguson.
The Lobos (2-2) extended their lead to 14-0 on an 18-yard pass from Nelson to Marcus Smith with 6:27 remaining in the first quarter. New Mexico also tacked on a team safety and 35-yard field goal by Kenny Byrd before the Miners could dent the scoring column.
UTEP trailed 19-3 at the midway point and dug a deeper hole when New Mexico drove 69 yards on 10 plays to open the second half. Nelson’s one-yard punch into the end zone increased the Lobos’ advantage to 22-3 with 10:40 to go in the third quarter.
The Miners made the score 26-10 on a 25-yard pass from Palmer to Daniel Robinson with 5:32 left in the third, and pulled within 26-13 on a 49-yard field goal by Schneider early in the fourth quarter.
UTEP got the ball back with a chance to draw closer, but the drive stalled at the Miner 49-yard line, ending much of a hope for a comeback. UTEP’s next drive also ended with an incomplete pass on fourth down.
Ferguson had his first career 100-yard rushing game for the Lobos, finishing with 162 yards on 34 carries. Nelson completed nine of 16 passes for 62 yards.
Palmer finished 26 of 36 passing for 211 yards, completing 19 straight passes at one point. Robinson established personal bests with six catches for 97 yards.
UTEP will host Interstate 10 rival New Mexico State (2-1) on Saturday, Sept. 30 at 7:05 p.m. MST. The Aggies, who will be playing their first road game of the season, were idle this week.
UTEP has been outscored 17-0 in the first quarter this season … it marks the first time that the Miners have gone three games in a row without scoring in the first quarter since the first three contests of the 2003 season … junior Lorne Sam started the game at wide receiver … Sam and right corner Bryant Tisdale were both making their first starts for the Miners … starting LG Cameron Raschke left the game after the second offensive play with an apparent knee injury … UTEP lost its first fumble since late in the 2005 season on the third play of the game, ending a string of 219 consecutive offensive plays run by the Miners without losing a fumble … New Mexico snapped a five-game home losing streak with the victory and improved to 26-9-1 all-time versus UTEP in Albuquerque … the Miners dropped to 4-1 under coach Mike Price when coming off a bye week … freshman WR Tufick Shadrawy made his first appearance of the season in the fourth quarter … senior WR Chris Marrow tied his career-high with seven receptions … UTEP tied a season low with 30 rushing yards (at San Diego State).