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New Mexico Bowl: Fresno State defeats UTEP, 31-24

GAME FINAL: ALBUQUERQUE, New Mexico - Jordan Mims ran for 165 yards and two touchdowns and and caught five passes for 71 yards and another score to help Fresno State beat UTEP 31-24 on Saturday in the New Mexico Bowl.

Fresno State (10-3) won the bowl game for the first time in three tries.

Jake Haener was 26 of 41 for 286 yards and a touchdown. His status had been somewhat in doubt when he briefly entered the transfer portal after coach Kalen DeBoer took the job at Washington.

Mims' 22-yard catch and run late in third quarter gave the Bulldogs a 26-17 lead.

The Miners (7-6) pulled to 26-24 early in the fourth quarter on Calvin Brownholtz's 51-yard touchdown pass to Trent Thompson.

But Fresno State got a field goal, followed by a UTEP safety, before the Bulldogs ran out the clock.

UTEP's Gavin Hardison threw for 252 yards and a touchdown.

UTEP has lost the New Mexico Bowl in all three of its appearances and has a seven-game bowl losing streak dating to 1967.

TAKEAWAYS

UTEP: With Hardison having at least two seasons of eligibility remaining, as well top running back Ronald Awatt and top receiver Jacob Cowing, also scheduled to return, UTEP is well positioned for next season.

“The effort we put out was tremendous. So many got to see us [on ESPN] and UTEP’s national reputation is continuing to improve by the way our guys played,” UTEP head coach Dana Dimel said. “I’m nothing but proud of our guys, proud of our seniors, and reflecting back on the game that’s the ultimate thing. We didn’t play well enough to beat Fresno, but we played some really good football.”

Fresno State: The Bulldogs will be spending the off-season re-adjusting to new/old coach Jeff Tedford, who returns following a two-year, health-related absence after coaching the team from 2017-19.

HALFTIME REPORT: ALBUQUERQUE, New Mexico - The UTEP Miners are playing in their first bowl game since 2014, and the Miners are in a battle against the Fresno State Bulldogs.

At the half, it's Fresno State with a slight edge over UTEP, 19-17.

Fresno State quarterback Jake Haener getting the start for the Bulldogs after returning to the team following a brief time in the transfer portal.

It was the Fresno State Bulldogs who would strike first in the first quarter following a 2-yard touchdown run by Jordan Mims.

Fresno State would go up 6-0 after a missed extra point.

The Miners would answer right back on their first possession of the game marching down the field and capping it off with a one yard touchdown pass from UTEP quarterback Gavin Hardison to Trent Thompson.

UTEP would take a 7-6 lead.

The Bulldogs would kick a field goal later in the first quarter to retake the lead, 9-7.

In the second quarter, the Miners would kick a field goal of their own for their second lead of the game, 10-9.

UTEP would find the end zone again later in the quarter courtesy of a one yard touchdown run by Ronald Awatt.

The Miners would extend their lead, 17-9.

Not to be outdone, Fresno State would respond with their second touchdown of the game following another Mims touchdown from the one yard line.

UTEP still held the lead at 17-16.

Right before the end of the half, Fresno State would march down the field to kick a field goal to once again retake the lead, 19-17.

UTEP is looking to win their first bowl game since 1967.

(The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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Adrian Ochoa

Adrian Ochoa is ABC-7’s Sports Director.

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