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One-on-one with UTEP’s Dana Dimel; Miners look to get back in win column against Florida Atlantic

EL PASO, Texas - UTEP will host Florida Atlantic in the first of two consecutive Conference USA home games on Saturday.

The Miners and Owls are set for a 2 p.m. kick in Sun Bowl Stadium.

The Miners will play in the Sun Bowl for the first time since defeating Boise State on Sept. 23.

Saturday’s game is “Military Appreciation Day” as UTEP pays tribute to the brave men and women posted at Fort Bliss. Fans will want to be in their seats by 1:45 pm so they can witness the pregame flyover by Apache helicopters during the national anthem. The game will also feature an enlistment ceremony at halftime.

Tickets for the battle are available by calling (915) 747-UTEP, emailing at, visiting, or dropping by the Eisenberg Family Ticket Office (M-F, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. – 201 Glory Road in Brumbelow Building).

UTEP (3-4, 1-2 C-USA) is coming off a loss at LA Tech, 41-31, on Oct. 8 in Joe Aillet Stadium. The Bulldogs jumped out to a 20-3 lead and 30-10 advantage at the half.

The Miners however pulled to within six points (30-24) after a Reynaldo Flores three-yard rushing TD early in the fourth quarter, while Trent Thompson scored on a 44-yard scoring pass from Gavin Hardison with 10:18 left play.

But LA Tech QB Parker McNeil, who threw for 266 yards and four scores, connected on a 15-yard touchdown to Smoke Harris and then hit Tre Harris on a two-point conversion to increase the lead to 38-24. Hardison, who threw for a season-high 320 yards, found Marcus Bellon on a 52-yard scoring pass with 2:08 left in the game,

Florida Atlantic (3-4, 2-1 C-USA) put its league record over .500 after rallying to defeat Rice, 17-14, in a defensive battle on Oct. 15 in Boca Raton. Rice jumped out to a 14-0 advantage after scoring twice in the first quarter.

Larry McCammon’s five-yard rushing score got FAU within seven points heading into the locker room at the half. Morgan Suarez converted a 34-yard FG at the 8:27 mark in the third quarter to make the count 14-10, while prolific QB N’Kosi Perry gave his Owls the go-ahead lead with an 18-yard TD pass to Jahmal Edrine with 11:22 left in the contest.

UTEP is 1-2 versus Florida Atlantic overall. UTEP won the first meeting 27-17 on Oct. 24, 2015 in the Sun Bowl. FAU has won the last two meetings – beating UTEP 35-31 in 2016, and again last season, 28-25.

Both meetings were in Boca Raton.

UTEP is 2-1 in the Sun Bowl this season, winning its last two contests.

The Miners defeated Boise State, 27-10, on Sept. 23 and NM State, 20-13, on Sept. 10. FAU is 0-3 on the road this season.

The Owls’ last road win came on Oct. 21, 2021 at Charlotte.

“Florida Atlantic is a team that's got lots of physical talent. They've got good size up front on their offensive line,” UTEP Head Coach Dana Dimel said. “They got two talented running backs, a good group of wide receivers and a quarterback that's very athletic and is really improved as a quarterback throughout his last two years. Then defensively, they play a lot of guys on defense, they rotate a lot of defensive linemen, they rotate through their linebackers, they've been rotating their secondary. I mean, they play as many guys as anybody that we've faced all year because they're able to get that kind of talent down in the state of Florida. They have a lot of talent across the board, across their defense. It'll be a challenge for us, but one that we need to be up for and play good football. We've proven that when we play good football, we can play with anybody on our schedule. So, we just need to, like I said, do the things that I talked about, get better at those things, improve on those things, and we'll have a really balanced football team.”


FAU leads the all-time series 2-1. The Owl defeated the Miners 28-25 in the last meeting on Oct. 30, 2021 in Boca Raton. Florida Atlantic took a 21-10 lead into the fourth quarter before UTEP pulled to within three points (28-25) with 2:02 left following a Tyrin Smith 49-yard touchdown pass from Gavin Hardison. Smith tallied 114 yards on four receptions, while Hardison threw for 327 yards and two scores. Deion Hankins rushed for 72 yards on 11 attempts (6.5 avg.). Trent Thompson added a touchdown on a 23-yard scoring reception. Praise Amaewhule tallied a sack. N’Kosi Perry threw for 149 yards and a TD. LaJohntay Wester added 64 yards on four receptions with a score.


Florida Atlantic (3-4, 2-1 C-USA) put its league record over .500 after rallying to defeat Rice, 17-14, in a defensive battle on Oct. 15 in Boca Raton. Rice jumped out to a 14-0 advantage after scoring twice in the first quarter. Larry McCammon III’s five-yard rushing score got FAU within seven points heading into the locker room at the half. Morgan Suarez converted a 34-yard FG at the 8:27 mark in the third quarter to make the count 14-10, while prolific QB N’Kosi Perry gave his Owls the go-ahead lead with an 18-yard TD pass to Jahmal Edrine with 11:22 left in the contest. The Owls opened the campaign with a 43-13 victory against Charlotte on Aug. 27. FAU followed with a 41-38 loss at Ohio on Sept. 3, but rebounded with a 42-9 win against Southeastern Louisiana on Sept. 10. The Owls fell 40-14 against UCT on Sept. 17 and lost at Big 10 program Purdue 28-26 on Sept. 24. FAU lost in its second league game, falling 45-28 at North Texas on Oct. 1. Perry ranks third in C-USA with 16 passing scores, while McCammon III ranks second in C-USA with 611 rushing yads and rushing yards per game (87.3). LaJohntay Wester leads the league with eight receiving touchdowns while his 66.7 yards per game ranks 13th. Safety Dwight Toombs II has intercepted three passes, ranking tied for second in C-USA, while LB Eddie Williams ranks second in C-USA with 65 total tackles. Williams’s 9.3 tackles per game ranks third. FAU averages 34.5 points per game (t-5th in C-USA), and gives up 27.1 points per contest (3rd in C-USA). The Owls rank fifth in total offense (435.6) and third in rushing yards (1,397). FAU’s total defense ranks fifth (392.9) in C-USA. 


UTEP opened a season by playing seven straight games without a bye week for the first time since 2017.  Overall, this has happened seven times this millennium in 2000, 2003, 2007, 2010, 2012, 2017 and 2022.


With Florida Atlantic (Oct. 22) and Middle Tennessee (Oct. 29) on tap, the Miners are playing consecutive C-USA home games on back-to-back weeks for the first time since October of 2013 when they faced LA Tech and Tulsa in unison at the Sun Bowl.  Overall, this is only the sixth time since joining the league in 2005 that the Miners will play two league home games in a row on consecutive weeks (also happened in October of 2006, October of 2007, October of 2009 and November of 2011).


UTEP has scored 30 points in consecutive Conference USA games for the second time under coach Dana Dimel, and the first time since his first season at the helm of the program (2018). The Miners beat Rice (34-26) and lost to Middle Tennessee (48-32) in November of that season. The Miners haven’t scored 30 points in three consecutive league games since October and November of 2014.


UTEP gained 501 yards of total offense at LA Tech. It was the most yards gained in a Conference USA game since Nov. 26, 2016 when the Miners tallied 555 yards of total offense against North Texas.


UTEP has now posted four games with 500 yards under coach Dana Dimel – Aug. 31, 2019 versus Houston Baptist (508), Nov. 23, 2019 at NM State (557), Sept. 26, 2020 at ULM (512), and Oct. 8, 2022 at LA Tech (501).


UTEP is now 8-6 in Conference USA games where it amasses 500 yards or more following its 41-31 loss at LA Tech on Oct. 8.  The Miners’ 501 yards were their most in a Conference USA game since Nov. 26, 2016 versus North Texas (555), and their most in a league road game since Nov. 14, 2009 at SMU (627).


UTEP has compiled 400+ yard of total offense in each of its first three Conference USA games for the first time since the 2009 season. This season, UTEP gained 400 yards against North Texas, another 425 at Charlotte and 501 yards of offense at LA Tech. Back in 2009, the Miners started the first six games with 400+ yards – 581 vs. Houston, 442 at Memphis, 446 vs. Tulsa, 607 at UAB, 486 at Tulane, 627 at SMU).


Overall, UTEP has posted three consecutive Conference USA games with 400+ yards of offense for the first time since the 2012 season.


Redshirt junior QB Gavin Hardison threw for a season-high 320 yards at LA Tech. It was Hardison’s fourth career 300-yard passing game. Hardison is ranked tied fifth on the program’s all-time list


Redshirt senior RB/WR Reynaldo Flores rushed for his second career touchdown at LA Tech on a three-yard attempt. Flores scored his first career TD against Boise State on Sept. 23, also on a three-yard rush.


Transfer sophomore WR/PR Marcus Bellon scored his first career offensive TD in a UTEP uniform, taking a reception 52 yards to pay dirt at LA Tech. It was Bellon’s second touchdown in a UTEP uniform as his first came on a 47-yard punt return for a score against Boise State on Sept. 23. Bellon was a scoring machine as he scored 10 total touchdowns at Santa Barbara CC in 2021. He tallied four punt returns and two kickoff returns for touchdowns, while adding four receiving scores last season.


Senior TE Trent Thompson scored his second touchdown of the season at LA Tech on a 23-yard reception in the fourth quarter. Thompson has four receptions with two touchdowns in 2022. Thompson has scored six touchdowns on 13 receptions the last two seasons. Last season, Thompson tallied four receiving scores on nine receptions. Thompson has 18 career receptions.


Redshirt sophomore WR Tyrin Smith ranks fourth Conference USA with 616 yards receiving. Smith ranks tied seventh in C-USA with 39 receptions and ranks fourth in yards per game (88.0). Nationally, Smith ranks 17th in receiving yards.


Senior DE Jadrian Taylor leads UTEP with 5.0 sacks, while ranking tied for first in Conference USA. Taylor registered a sack at no. 9 Oklahoma, 3.0 at Charlotte and another one at LA Tech. Taylor has 11.5 career sacks after posting 6.5 last season. Nationally, Taylor ranks tied for 16th. North Texas’ Mazin Richards is tied with Taylor.


Transfer sophomore S Kobe Hylton tied his career best with a team-high 10 tackles at LA Tech. Hylton ranks second on the team with 56 tackles, while he ranks fourth in Conference USA. His 8.0 tackles per game ranks eighth in C-USA. Hylton also leads Conference USA with 8.0 tackles for loss.


Senior LB Tyrice Knight has been one of the top tacklers in the league as he leads UTEP with 58. Knight has done it all, adding 6.0 tackles for loss, a sack, interception, two breakups, two hurries, a pair of forced fumbles and a fumble return for a 13-yard TD. Knight ranks third in Conference USA with his 58 stops, while his 8.3 tackles per game rank seventh.


UTEP has scored two defensive touchdowns in 2022. DE Jadrian Taylor scored on a 100-yard fumble return at Charlotte, while LB Tyrice Knight scored on a 13-yard fumble return against the 49ers. The Miners last scored two defensive touchdowns in the same season was 2019. Last time the Miners had three in the same season was 2017 and last time four was scored came in 2008.


Senior K/P Gavin Baechle is first in Conference USA with 12 made field goals and ranks tied eighth nationally. Baechle is 12-for-13 on the season. Baechle leads C-USA in field goals made per game (1.7). His 92.3 percent (12-13) ranks second in C-USA.


Gavin Baechle has hit 12 consecutive field goals after missing his very first attempt of 2022. It’s the longest streak of his career. It is the longest streak by a Miner player since Jay Mattox made 13 consecutive FGs over the course of the 2014 and 2015 seasons. It’s also the longest streak during a single season when Jose Martinez converted 15 straight field goals.

Article Topic Follows: UTEP

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