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UTEP start season 0-2 after falling to Oklahoma 45-13 ahead of the Battle of I-10

EL PASO, Texas -- The 45-13 scoreline might not show it but UTEP displayed some true grit and promise for the future of the season in their loss to No. 9 Oklahoma.

Saturday's game wasn't so much about winning or losing or even the scoreline, instead it was about using the game against a top ranked team to gain experience and grow.

Head Coach Dana Dimel had said during the week he wanted his defense to keep pace with the Sooners offense - but off the bat they struggled. Oklahoma scoring a touchdown on each of their first three drives, each one lasting less than 2 minutes, to take a 21-0 lead.

But then things took a turn, the Miners able to dig into a drive and setup kicker Gavin Baechle to get their first points of the day in the second quarter.

From there the defense was able to force the Sooners to punt and put the Miner offense back on the field for their best drive of the game - a 10-play, 85 yard drive that spanned 5:10 and ended in running back Ronald Awatt taking it across the white stripe.

“I thought after we handled the first onslaught – the 21-0 run, I thought we played better. From that point on it was 24-13 and we executed and did some things well. Our football team is not going to be in a more hostile environment than this,” UTEP Head Coach Dana Dimel said.

The success of the scoring drive predominantly because of quarterback Gavin Hardison who had a much improved game. In total Hardison threw for 244 yards with a 60% completion rate and no interceptions.

He and backup quarterback Calvin Brownholtz were sacked for a combined 9 times and 9 hurries against a stout Sooner defense.

In total 10 UTEP players made a catch, the most for UTEP in a game under coach Dana Dimel. They were led by Reynaldo Flores (7-76) and Tyrin Smith (8-71). 

“I said earlier, if we can get through and not get beat up, we’d be a better team after leaving this field. We played a really good football team today," Dimel said. "[Oklahoma] executed at a high level and did some good things. But I feel comfortable about our football team.”

The Miners will look to regroup and learn from their clash with the heavyweight Sooners as they now prepare for the Battle of I-10 against a New Mexico State side that is also 0-2 to start the season.

Kickoff is set for 7 p.m. at the Sun Bowl.

Article Topic Follows: UTEP
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Rachel Phillips

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