Charlotte began the game with a run-heavy first drive, capped off by a 23 yard pass by Chris Reynolds to wide receiver Grant Dubose. However, the Niners were not able to keep their momentum from the opening drive going, sputtering through the rest of the half.
The same could not be said for UTEP. The Miners immediately answered back with a drive of their own, in which they converted two fourth down plays on their way to score a 17 yard touchdown from Gavin Hardison to Tyrin Smith.
UTEP led in time of possession (18:17 to 11:43), rushing the ball 24 times for 142 yards. The Miners offense was clicking on all cylinders in the first half, scoring 24 points without a single punt.
Charlotte continued to struggle in the second quarter. Penalties and unforced errors continually put the Niners in compromising positions. The last two minutes of the first half changed the course of the game. UTEP scored a 26 yard touchdown with 33 seconds remaining in the second quarter, followed by a touchdown off of a scoop and score after Charlotte QB Chris Reynolds fumbled the ball.
Charlotte came out of the half on a mission, forcing UTEP to punt the ball for the first time of the night after a three and out. The Niners offense took advantage, scoring a touchdown soon after by wide receiver Elijah Spencer. The Niners good fortune continued, forcing a fumble to give Charlotte the ball back. The Niners capitalized on their good field position, scoring a touchdown in two plays to make the game 24-21.
UTEP responded on their next drive with a 58 yard touchdown pass from Gavin Hardison to Tyrin Smith for his second TD of the day.
A late push by Charlotte gave the Niners an opportunity to win the game with 1:32 remaining in the fourth quarter. However, a miscommunication between Chris Reynolds and Elijah Spencer resulted in an interception, ending the game.
“I think our offense has a great fight…I love the way everybody came together at the end of the game, it shows”, said wide receiver Elijah Spencer after a career night (7 rec for 160 yards). Charlotte showed resilience in the fourth quarter, coming up just short of a potential come from behind victory.
UTEP showed why they were favored in this game. The Miners had a minimal amount of turnovers, paired with long drives that kept Charlotte’s offense on the sidelines.
With this loss, Charlotte moves to 1-5-0 ATS this season.
Final Score: UTEP 41, Charlotte 35