EL PASO, Texas - The University of Texas at El Paso’s football team won its final home game of the season 33-10 over Florida International University Nov. 15, after MVP tailback Nathan Jeffery rushed for two touchdowns and 130 yards. Wide receiver Jordan Leslie went more than 2,000 yards receiving during the game, helping the Miners to their season record of 2-8.
“I give them a lot of credit. It isn’t easy to go to work when you’re 1-8. If you’re hurting and you’re sore, it just feels worse and it’s hard to get motivated,” said UTEP Head Coach Sean Kugler. “They played like a team that had passion and was motivated. After big plays, you could see the excitement, and it was genuine.”
Running back Autrey Golden rushed four yards to score the first touchdown of the game, giving the Miners a strong start and Golden the first rushing touchdown of his career. Jay Mattox followed up with a 34-yard field goal later in the first quarter.
With 46 seconds remaining in the first quarter, FIU’s wide receiver T.J. Lowder completed a 16 yard pass, putting the Panthers on the scoreboard, 10-7.
Jeffery ran pass the Panthers defense with only 38 seconds remaining on the clock to score for the Miners in the second quarter. The Miners kept their momentum into the third quarter when Leslie caught a 64-yard pass from quarterback Mack Leftwich to give the Miners a 24-7 lead.
“It was great to throw that touchdown pass; Jordan did a good job,” said Leftwich. “I just threw the ball up and he made the play.”
Next in the third quarter the Miners defense forced a safety when linebacker Horace Miller tackled FIU’s running back Silas Spearman in the end zone bringing the Miners lead to 26-7.
The Panthers took a bite out of the Miners lead when Austin Taylor kicked a 31 yard field goal in the fourth quarter but Jeffery responded by running in a 54 yard touchdown in the fourth quarter, making the final score 10-33.
During the game, the Miners rushed for 327 yards. The Miners ran 53 rushing and seven passing plays in the game. The last time the Miners had more rushing yardage was Oct. 22, 2011 versus Colorado State with 340 yards.
“It was good to get a win for the team Saturday night, especially for the seniors to have the opportunity to walk off the Sun Bowl turf for the last time as winners,” said Kugler. “The Miner fans … I was amazed by the crowd. Even though our record is what it is they were out in full force and loud and really helped our team.”
During halftime, Brig. Gen. Scott McKean, deputy commander of operations for Fort Bliss and 1st Armored Division, gave the Oath of Enlistment to hundreds of future soldiers about to enter the military.
The Panthers drop to one win and 9 losses.
The Miners have two games remaining in the season, one at Tulane and the other at Middle Tennessee State.