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El Paso, TX — Aaron Jones ran for a career-high 237 yards and three touchdowns, and UTEP gained 333 yards rushing on its way to outlasting New Mexico, 31-24, on Saturday at University Stadium.
The Miners (1-0) dominated the first half, went into the locker room up 24-7, then watched their lead completely evaporate before capitalizing on a big fourth quarter turnover by the Lobos (0-1) to snare their first season-opening victory in three years. This was UTEP’s first season-opening win over a Division I opponent since New Mexico in 2007.
LaQuintus Dowell recovered a fumble by Lobo punt returner Michael Arredondo at the New Mexico six-yard line late in the fourth quarter, and two plays later Jones ran it in for the winning score.
Adrian James clinched the victory when he picked off New Mexico reserve quarterback Clayton Mitchem deep in Miner territory with a little over a minute remaining.
UTEP forced three turnovers in the final period after neither team lost the football in the first three quarters.
Mitchem, who orchestrated a 42-35 New Mexico win in the 2013 season opener at the Sun Bowl, came on in relief of starter Cole Gautsche, who injured his hamstring on a 33-yard run early in the fourth quarter.
Gautsche rushed for 184 yards, including 100 of the Lobos’ 262 in the second half.
The Miners have registered back-to-back wins at University Stadium, including a 38-20 triumph in 2010, for the first time since a run of three straight victories from 1965-69.
After Gautsche tied the game at 7 on a 68-yard run midway through the first quarter, the UTEP defense settled down and the offense came alive, scoring 17 consecutive points to forge a 24-7 lead at the intermission.
Jameill Showers connected with Jarrad Shaw on a 48-yard touchdown pass with 4:25 remaining in the first period, capping a six-play, 75-yard drive. The Lobos drove to the Miner 20-yard line on their next series before Roy Robertson-Harris and Anthony Puente pinned running back Teriyon Gipson for a short loss on fourth-and-one.
UTEP tacked on a 23-yard field goal by Jay Mattox with 7:59 left in the second period, forced New Mexico into a three-and-out, then drove 80 yards on three plays to push the lead to 17. Jones broke loose for a 73-yard scoring run on third and three, the second-longest scamper of his career and the 19th-longest in school history.
The Miners put up 326 yards of offense in the first half, including 227 rushing as Jones gained 158 yards on 12 carries.
The third quarter was all New Mexico as it gained 175 yards – 173 rushing – and put together a couple of long scoring drives. The first, for 83 yards, ended with a 13-yard run by Gipson. The second, for 92 yards, concluded with a 51-yard run by Gautsche.
The Lobos knotted the score on a 35-yard field goal by Zack Rogers with 8:10 to play in the game.
New Mexico had a slight advantage in total yards (477-446), with 410 coming via the rush. Jhurell Pressley ran for 84 yards and Gipson added 71.
Nathan Jeffery supplemented Jones by rushing for 84 yards on 14 carries for UTEP. Showers completed 11-of-22 passes for 116 yards, 76 of them going to Shaw, who had four receptions.
The Miners will battle Texas Tech (1-0) in the Sun Bowl next Saturday (Sept. 6) at 9 p.m. The Red Raiders beat Central Arkansas, 42-35, on Saturday behind Davis Webb, who threw for 452 yards and four touchdowns.
UTEP fans will be able to purchase both season and single-game football tickets on Labor Day.
Season tickets, starting at just $70, will be available from the UTEP Season Ticket Office on Monday between 8 a.m. and 4 p.m. Family packs (two adults/two youth) are on sale for only $198. The season ticket office is located at Brumbelow Building Room 109 and the phone number is 747-6150.
The UTEP Ticket Center will be open from 8 a.m. - 4 p.m. Monday selling tickets for the Miners' football home opener against Texas Tech, as well as the NM State (Sept. 13) and Old Dominion (Oct. 11) games. The UTEP Ticket Center is located at the corner of Mesa and Glory Road and the phone number is 747-5234.
Texas Tech single-game ticket prices are $30 (general admission), $40 (bronze reserved), $50 (silver reserved) and $60 (gold reserved). NMSU and Old Dominion single-game ticket prices are $12 (general admission), $20 (bronze reserved), $35 (silver reserved) and $45 (gold reserved).
Seats are available at all price levels for all three games.
Fans can also purchase tickets to any of the three games via ticketmaster.com 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
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