For the second consecutive week, the Mustangs got off to a slow start and trailed by 14 points at intermission. Last Saturday, SMU stormed back in the second half for a win at Tulane. This time, however, the Mustangs (5-5, 4-2 C-USA) weren't able to overcome the deficit, as the homestanding Miners (5-5, 3-4) earned a 28-14 win.
UTEP could do no wrong for most of the first two quarters.
On the Miners' initial possession, it appeared that they would go three-and-out, but a fake punt on 4th-and-5 netted a fresh set of downs. The fourth down trickery, which came on a nine-yard run by punter Ian Campbell, set up a 12-yard touchdown pass from QB Trevor Vittatoe to WR Evan Davis.
Vittatoe, who suffered through lackluster performances over the past three weeks, was razor sharp for the bulk of the first half, completing 9 of his first 13 throws. The pass to Davis came on a perfect spiral that was grabbed just inside the left sideline of the end zone.
By halftime, the UTEP quarterback was 15-of-24 for 165 yards with 3 TDs, and the Miners had built a 21-7 lead.
UTEP spread the wealth around, with eight receivers making at least one catch in the first half.
Meanwhile, SMU was out-of-sync in the first half, with the exception of a well-crafted 99-yard scoring drive in the second quarter that cut the margin to 14-7.
After the Miners opened a 14-0 advantage on a six-yard pass from Vittatoe to Pierce Hunter, the Mustangs drove the length of the field and cut the margin in half by virtue of a 31-yard pass from Kyle Padron to Aldrick Robinson.
Padron got the offense out of the shadow of its own goal-line with a 22-yard completion to Robinson, and he found the explosive receiver again for 25 yards later on the drive.
UTEP, however, kept the momentum heading into the locker room for the halftime break, marching 87 yards late in the 2nd for another touchdown. Vittatoe hooked up with Marlon McClure from 13 yards out with under a minute remaining in the half to give the Miners a 21-7 lead.
At one point in the second quarter, UTEP held a 168-44 advantage in total offense. The Miners racked up 11 first downs to 2 for the Mustangs in the same time frame. To add insult to injury, SMU was assessed 4 penalties for 48 yards before the Miners were flagged.
In the third quarter, SMU cut into the UTEP lead once again, narrowing the score to 21-14 on a one-yard sneak by Padron. The Miners were resilient, though, pushing across another TD on Leilyon Myers' two-yard burst up the middle with only a few minutes remaining in the game.
Padron completed 28-of-45 passes for 255 yards. Robinson had another spectacular effort for SMU, hauling in 9 catches for 131 yards. Bradley Haynes added 6 receptions for 43 yards and Cole Beasley had 7 for 41.
SMU outgained UTEP, 359-319.