EL PASO, Texas (Oct. 5, 2013) – UTEP’s offense threatened with a touchdown late in the fourth quarter, but the Louisiana Tech Bulldogs (2-4, 1-1 C-USA) held strong and defeated the Miners, 38-35, in a conference matchup Saturday night at the Sun Bowl in El Paso.
The Bulldogs broke a five-game homecoming winning streak for the Miners and recreated a scene from 2003 when LA Tech defeated UTEP (1-4, 0-2 C-USA), 38-35, in the team’s homecoming game in El Paso once again.
With 1:03 remaining in the fourth quarter, UTEP quarterback Jameill Showers threw a six-yard touchdown pass to Craig Wenrick to bring the Miners within three points, but LA Tech prevailed after recovering the ensuing onside kick to take over possession with seconds remaining in the game.
With 25 carries, 206 yards rushing and one touchdown run, Kenneth Dixon recorded his second career 200-yard rushing game and his ninth career 100-yard rushing game Saturday versus UTEP. He is now tied for 12th in the nation among active career 100-yard rushing leaders with nine games over the century mark in his two-year career.
LA Tech’s quarterback Ryan Higgins rushed 11 times for 31 yards and two rushing touchdowns – the first two rushing touchdowns of his career – and was 10-18 for 110 yards passing on the night.
UTEP drove down 75 yards on its first possession in 3:43 to set up a one-yard touchdown run by Showers as the Miners took the early 7-0 lead.
Tech would quickly respond, marching down the field in four plays and only 55 seconds as Andrew Guillot would reach across the goal line for a five-yard touchdown run.
After forcing a punt out of the Miners, the Bulldogs would mount their longest sustained drive of the year, going 93 yards in 16 plays over 6:05 to set up a seven-yard scoring run by Ryan Higgins to put the Bulldogs up 14-7.
Blake Martin, filling in for an injured Tevin King, scored on the longest scoring play of the year with a 62-yard touchdown run early in the second quarter to extend Tech’s lead to 21-7 with 10:13 in the second quarter.
Later in the frame – with 3:57 remaining – Kyle Fischer would connect on a 24-yard field goal to push Tech’s lead to 24-7.
With under two minutes in the half, Showers would connect with Jordan Leslie for a 28-yard touchdown pass as the Miners cut the lead to 24-14. UTEP would have one last chance to score as the Miners forced a Higgins fumble as time expired but D.J. Banks made a touchdown-saving tackle to end the first half.
Both teams would go three-and-out to start the second half but as UTEP punted away, D.J. Banks muffed the punt with UTEP recovering in the end zone to pull within a field goal, 24-21, at the 11:30 mark in the third quarter.
Higgins would strike back with a two-yard run at the 11:30 mark in the third quarter to cap off a 74-yard, eight-play drive lasting 3:31 as the Bulldogs took the 31-21 lead.
Showers would connect with Leslie again, this time for 65 yards, as UTEP would again pull within three, 31-28, this time with 6:27 left in the third quarter.
On the next drive for the Bulldogs, Tech would get pinned back onto its own two-yard line with Higgins recovering on the sideline. Scotty Young would hand the ball off to Kenneth Dixon, who would run 72 yards and into UTEP territory. A couple plays later, Dixon would run it in from nine yards out for the score to make it a 38-28 game in Tech’s favor.
UTEP drove down into the red zone on its next possession but the Bulldogs would force a 22-yard field goal that would end up being blocked in the Miners’ first failed red zone trip of the game.
The Bulldogs defense held tight until the last few minutes of the fourth quarter when UTEP’s Showers led the offense down the field and pulled the Miners within three with a six-yard touchdown pass to Craig Wenrick with 1:03 remaining in the game.
A last-ditch effort with an onside kick was recovered by Louisiana Tech and the Bulldogs’ offense was able to run out the clock to complete the road victory.
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