In a game in which the two teams were separated by just one yard of total offense, the UTEP Miners came away with a 27-17 victory over the Florida Atlantic University football team Saturday night.
UTEP accounted for 410 total yards to FAU’s 409, but three turnovers proved to be the demise of the Owls as the Miners capitalized for ten points off turnovers overall.
“At the end of the day it comes down to being minus three in turnover ratio,” FAU Head Coach Charlie Partridge said. “Our kids continue to come to fight. A bunch of kids got to play in the game. Give Quez and the offense some credit. It was challenging in times but we put ourselves in position.”
Jaquez Johnson went 14-of-22 for 263 yards and an interception while Jenson Stoshak grabbed six catches for 130 yards. Freshman Trey Rodriguez tallied seven carries for 114 yards and a score while Greg Howell picked up a touchdown on one of four carries. Junior Dalton Schomp set a new FAU program record with a 76-yard punt, the longest in school history.
The two teams mirrored each other’s first possessions with FAU’s drive ending on a failed fourth-down conversion and the Miners’ on a three and out followed by a punt. On the next drive, FAU starting quarterback Jaquez Johnson hit Kalib Woods downfield with a 55-yard pass that ended on the UTEP two, setting the Owls up on first and goal. Two plays later, FAU fumbled trying to punch it into the end zone with the Miners recovering in the end zone for the touchback. UTEP took over and found the end zone three plays later following a 76-yard scoring strike to give the Miners a 7-0 lead with 4:59 remaining in the first quarter.
The Owls got on the board with 12:45 remaining in the second quarter when Greg Joseph hit a 25-yard field goal to pull within four at 7-3. The field goal was set up when freshman Trey Rodriguez opened up the Owls’ first play of the quarter a career-long 59-yard run. He gained three on his next carry and two more after an incomplete pass for a total of 64 yards on the drive.
FAU’s next possession started with a great punt by Dalton Schomp. UTEP’s returner couldn’t handle the ball and fumbled it on the UTEP nine. FAU’s Jenson Stoshak recovered the ball on the three. One play later, Greg Howell carried the ball in and, following a Joseph PAT, the Owls held their first lead 10-7 with 6:54 to play in the half.
The lead was short lived as UTEP put together a six-play, 76-yard drive to go up 14-10 with less than 3:30 to play before the intermission.
On the next possession, Johnson opened the drive with a 12-yard pass to Stoshak. Two plays later he called Rodriguez’s number for back-to-back carries - the first time for a gain of five and the second a 38-yard scoring scamper. Joseph hit the PAT and the Owls were up for the second time in the half with 1:56 remaining in the half.
UTEP put together a 10-play drive that ended with FAU’s Cre’von LeBlanc breaking up a fourth-and-long pass. The Owls would get three plays in prior to the break and went into the locker room up 17-14.
UTEP posted the first points of the second half to go up 21-17 following a nine-play drive for totaling 76 yards that ended with a 30-yard pass and ate 4:46 minutes off the clock. The Owls’ next attempt to reach the end zone saw Johnson toss a second-and-goal interception from the UTEP eight.
The FAU defense forced the Miners to punt, but a fumble on the return by Cre’von LeBlanc set UTEP up at the FAU 20-yard line. Again the defense stepped up, holding the Miners to a 35-yard field goal to keep it a one-possession game at 24-17.
After the Owls were held to a three-and-out, UTEP marched 53 yards, chewing up 7:31 on the clock and tacked on three more points on a 42-yard field goal to go up 27-17.
With 3:54 to play, Johnson began a drive in which he guided FAU 54 yards in just 1:22 to get into the UTEP red zone on four passes to four different targets. Needing two scores, the Owls elected to go for a field goal, but the kick missed wide left.
“We worked that drill this week where if you were down nine or ten to get in field goal range, get a field goal attempt and hopefully have time for an onside and a touchdown drive,” Partridge said.
Trey Hendrickson, pictured above during a hurry of UTEP quarterback Mack Leftwhich, accounted for seven of the Owls' 16 tackle for loss yards.
Florida Atlantic next returns home to host FIU for Homecoming on Saturday, Oct. 31 at 3:30 p.m.