The UTEP Miners’ woes continued on Saturday as their losing streak reached 17 games following a 30-21 defeat at the hands of UTSA. While the Miners outgained the Roadrunners 297-278, two turnovers prevented UTEP from holding on to an early lead. Through six meetings, UTSA is the first team to win a game at home in what has been an unpredictable and dramatic series.
Quarterback Kai Locksley put UTEP on the board to start the game with a three yard run, capping off a nearly four minute long drive that saw the Miners march 43 yards down the field after recovering a muffed punt.
UTSA would turn right around and match that after also recovering a dropped punt, this time on the UTEP seven yard line. UTSA quarterback Cordale Grundy made quick work of the opportunity, finding open space to scramble into the endzone to tie the game at 7 points.
Grundy would lead his team to a 14-7 lead after finding tight end Carter McCarthy all alone in the flats for a nine yard touchdown catch, McCarthy’s first score as a Roadrunner. While at times the outcome seemed uncertain, UTSA would carry this lead throughout the contest.
With UTEP running back Quadraiz Wadley unable to get anything going on the ground, UTEP Head Coach Dana Dimel leaned on Kai Locksley to carry the offense. Locksley would carry the ball 24 times in the contest, utilizing a dozen QB traps and delayed draws. At times Locksley would be lined up in the backfield with just a fullback to accompany him, showing UTEP’s lack of trust in its rushing attack.
Once the Roadrunners took the lead, their defense played with a ferocious energy, sparked by a breakout performance from sophomore DeQuarius Henry. The young defensive end finished his night with six tackles, two tackles for loss, one sack, and one forced fumble.
After an interception from cornerback Clayton Johnson, UTSA built on their lead after Cordale Grundy found freshman receiver Tykee Ogle-Kellogg in the endzone on one of the nicest passes we’ve seen from the JUCO transfer this year.
The Roadrunners’ defense would continue to hold strong through the first half, earning a huge stop on fourth down to prevent the Miners from scoring at the end of the half. Grundy would quickly march UTSA down the field following the turnover on downs, setting up a 51 yard field goal from sophomore Jared Sackett.
UTSA’s 24-7 lead wasn’t as safe as one would expect. UTEP would score 14 unanswered points in the third quarter to put Roadrunner fans on the edges of their seats. Locksley executed a brilliant tight end throwback to David Lucero for a six yard touchdown pass. The Miners would follow that up with a three yard touchdown run from Quadraiz Wadley to cut the score to 24-21 early in the fourth quarter.
While UTSA’s offense failed to find the endzone again, two long field goals were enough to protect the lead as the Roadrunners would escape the scare with a 30-21 victory.
Cordale Grundy finished the game with a 20 for 35 passing record, racking up 187 yards through the air, including two touchdown passes. Grundy was careful to avoid interceptions and showed good field awareness throughout the contest. He also rushed for 44 yards and only took two sacks.
Kai Locksley completed 10 of his 16 passes for 117 yards, including a 31 yard pass to Terry Juniel and a 26 yard toss to Tre’shon Wolf. Locksley did most of his damage on the ground, rushing 24 times for 106 yards. The wear and tear of 24 carries took its toll on Locksley, as Ryan Metz would have to come in to finish the game under center.
This week UTEP will travel to UNT while the Roadrunners will attempt to reach a three game winning streak and a .500 record as they make the short trek up I-10 to face Rice in Houston.