Hawai`i (5-3, 4-1 WAC) won its third straight game of the season and took a step closer to the coveted Western Athletic Conference title by moving into sole possession of second place. Nevada, which suffered it first conference loss to Louisiana Tech earlier in the day, is a game behind at 3-1, while Boise State remains as the only unbeaten in league play at 4-0.
UTEP (2-6, 1-2 WAC) kept it close for most of the game and produced 414 yards of total offense (244 rushing), but struggled to put points on the board while turning the ball over three times (2 fumbles, 1 interception).
The Miners struck first when Keith Robinson kicked a 44-yard field goal on the first possession of the game. But Hawai`i countered to claim its first lead that was never relinquished when Chang hit See Poumele for a 10-yard touchdown to put the Warriors up, 6-3, late in the first quarter.
Three of Ayat's field goals came in the second quarter, a 33-yarder, followed by a pair of 25-yarders, took the Warriors into the locker room with a 15-6 halftime.
Warrior quarterback Timmy Chang got out to a slow start but recovered to throw for 250 yards and two touchdowns in the second half. He finished with 426 yards and three touchdowns on 27-of-54 passing. It was his second straight 400-plus game.
The Miners had opportunities to cut into the lead in the fourth quarter, but a field goal that hit the upright and a fumble late in the game prevented any hopes of spoiling the Warrior Homecoming.
The Warrior defense sacked UTEP quarterback Jordan Palmer five times (-32), two by defensive end Mel Purcell who finished the game with a career-high 12 tackles (9 solo). Linebacker Ikaika Curnan led all Warriors with 13 tackles, while safety David Gilmore recorded his second interception, the second in as many games.
Next week, the Warriors continue WAC play at San Jose State Nov. 1 at Spartan Stadium. Kickoff is scheduled for 12 p.m.