UTEP's first game of the year against its bitter rival UNM, was not a classic one, but it still had the markings of a good rivalry game. The low scoring affair between the two schools came down to the last play of the game when UNM still had a chance to win with eleven seconds left on the clock, but UNM's QB Donovan Porterie ended up getting tackled by the Miner defense at the Miner 34 yard line which led to time running out on the Lobos.
The Miners were outgained in total yards: 383-209, UTEP also had one turnover while UNM had none, despite these stats the Miners were able to hold the Lobos to only two successful field goals on four attempts. The Miner defense did not allow the Lobos offense to get into the end zone and the Miner offense despite having some low stats, had one really spectacular play by RB Terrell Jackson who in the 3rd quarter had a 36 yard TD run which ended up being the game winner for UTEP.
The debuts of QB Trevor Vittatoe and WR/PR Fred Rouse, did not go as well as most fans had anticipated. Vittatoe completed just 6 of his 21 passes which resulted in only 58 yards. The Miners wide receivers did drop several easy passes by Vittatoe, and the Lobo defense blitzed on virtually every play so that also kept the red-shirt freshman Vittatoe off his game. Rouse, who had 3 kick and punt returns for touchdowns in the Miner scrimmages in August, seemed to be a little shaky in his first game for the Miners. Rouse almost lost the ball several times when he was doing punt return duties, luckily for the Miners they never lost the ball on a fumble. Rouse, also had 2 catches for 15 yards.
The other Miner QB: Lorne Sam, who will be sharing time at QB with Vittatoe, didn't fare all that well either, he was 2-5 for 22 yards and 1 Int. Sam, did rush for 23 yards on 4 carries and he also had one key reception for 22 yards and a first down late in the fourth quarter which helped UTEP run more time off the clock.
A pleasant surprise to many Miner fans was the play of UTEP's new starting kicker Jose Martinez, who had a 51 yard field goal, he also booted a couple of kickoffs into the end zone. Kyle Peterson, UTEP's new punter was also great in his debut for the Miners, he had 7 punts averaging 41 yards per punt. One of Peterson's punts went for 50 yards.
The Lobos running back Rodney Ferguson, had a great day on the ground against UTEP. Ferguson gained 132 yards on 32 carries for the Lobos. The Miners seemed to have a hard time containing the consistent rush attack of the Lobos. Lobo QB Donovan Porterie was 25-40 and had 190 yards.
During the Miner scrimmages and practices, it was the offense that shined and put up big numbers, but for this game it was the other way around. The Miner defense was clearly what kept the Miners in the game and helped UTEP ultimately win the game.
UTEP had a decent crowd of 43,326 on hand to watch the game.
The Miners will now turn their focus on next week's opponent: Mike Leach and his Red Raiders of Texas Tech.
UNM will face their in-state rivals New Mexico State, next Saturday night.
UTEP Comes Out Victorious Against UNM
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