North Texas Defense and Weather Ruin UTEP Sellout in 31-13 Method
Saturday night was supposed to be a party in El Paso. As the city of West Texas witnessed a sold-out Sun Bowl for the first time since 2008, he was set to host one of the most evocative atmospheres of college football’s opening week, Week 0.
But by the 7pm local kick-off time, the venue was empty. An early lightning strike caused a large amount of empty seats in the stands. Once the storm subsided, it was hoped that another kind of electricity would form on the scenic venue. ‘s historic sellout prevented it from becoming El Paso’s rowdiest show.
When the stadium emptied for the second time on Saturday night, it wasn’t due to a lightning strike, but as North Texas started conference play by bashing the home team 31-13.
A seasoned second-year defensive coordinator, as evidenced by Mean Green scoring 35 points per game in his first seven games versus just 18.7 points in his final six. A Phil Bennett made a decisive turnaround last season. That end-of-season defense lasted into 2022, as North Texas barricaded UTEP all night and shut out the Miners in the second half.
Led by First Team All-C-USA inside linebacker KD Davis, the Mean Green defense had the answer to everything UTEP head coach Dana Dimel planned offensively. They consistently pressured the backfield, forcing an onslaught of incomplete and false throws while ensuring no minor ball carrier ended the night with 40 rushing yards. North Texas dominated the battle in the trenches, with UTEP quarterback Gavin Hardison constantly scrambling around the pocket.
Hardison attempted countless deep shots to inspire UTEP’s attack. Hardison had early success with four successful passes of 25+ yards on his first three drives, but his downfield heaves eventually piled up on the turf. , a drop from his coop began to plague his UTEP. Overall, Hardison completed 21 of his 48 attempts for 293 yards and he had one touchdown.
The starting quarterback’s lone touchdown strike of the third year came to his new No. 1 option, Tylyn Smith, who is set to expand his role on the offense after the departure of 1,300-yard receiver Jacob Cowing. was a 32-yard delivery. Smith proved his worth as a deep threat with 127 yards and 7 touchdowns, and Reinaldo Flores also collected most of Hardison’s completions, putting him in UTEP’s offensive production. 8 catches and his 122 yards.
Smith’s early success gave UTEP a 7–0 lead early in the second quarter and quickly regained the advantage at 10–7 when North Texas responded. But within his two minutes of halftime, North his Texas running back his Oscar Addaway waltzed into his zone for an 8-yard touchdown on his run, ending last year with an ACL injury. It marked his first goal since 2020 after being sidelined. Those points out of the sophomore year gave North Texas a lead that would never be relinquished.
Meangreen built a framework for victory in the second half, outscoring the Miners 17-0. On the first possession of the third quarter, quarterback Austin Orne completed an on-the-run float pass to running back Isiah Johnson to widen the gap to 21–13. That touchdown momentum quickly transferred to the defense, forcing the only turnover on UTEP’s drive. Taking advantage of the takeaway, Ornn fired his third and final touchdown pass of the night to tight end Jake Roberts, throwing Miners into the rearview mirror.
Roberts caught only 11 passes in 13 games last year, but the 6’5″ sophomore tight end is poised to carve a pivotal role in North Texas’ 2022 offense. looks like. He led all Mean Green his players in his four receptions and provided a strong block in UTEP’s strong safety his Kobe Hayton in an interesting matchup. Another standout player on the North Texas offense was Ayoaday, team-best running in rushes (17) and yards (80).He was a mainstay in the back rotation stable.
The Week 0 conference clash will impact the conference titles of the two Lone Star State programs, both of whom have qualified for the Bowl in 2021. Championship game on Friday, December 2nd.
North Texas is already off to a head start towards this goal as head coach Seth Littrell claimed his first C-USA opener win since 2019. The Miners will marinate with a 0-1 conference record until next facing his C-USA opponent on October 1 in Charlotte.