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One-on-one with UTEP’s Dana Dimel; Miners prepare for final home game of season against FIU

EL PASO, Texas - UTEP will conclude the home portion of its schedule when it hosts FIU on “Senior Day”.

The Miners and Golden Panthers are set to kick off at 2 p.m. in the Sun Bowl on Saturday afternoon. 

Twenty-one Miners will be honored prior to kick off. Seniors RB Ron Awatt, K Gavin Baechle, DB Darius Baptist, DB Dennis Barnes, QB Calvin Brownholtz, WR/RB Reynaldo Flores, DB Joe Hagopian, DB Ty’Reke James, RB Jalen Joseph, WR Mike Malewitz, OL Robert Mervin, DL Kelton Moss, DE Jadrian Taylor, LB Gary Theard, DT Blake Thompson, TE Trent Thompson, DB Deshaun Trotter, FB James Tupou, LB Cal Wallerstedt, DE Deylon Williams and DB Tyson Wilson will play their last game in the Sun Bowl.

“It's a good list of guys who are graduating here,” UTEP Head Coach Dana Dimel said. “And, you know, with the COVID year, you have some you know, some guys that could leave that, you know, they have another year left. Some of the guys that might just want to get on with their professional careers and go on and do some things. And so, it's a pretty good list of guys are leaving. Guys that have got us to a bowl game that have changed the whole landscape of our program from when they've got here, changed the whole national respect that our program has right now, which, you know, it's been a really positive move for us.”

The Miners and Golden Panthers have each lost their last two contests, but are still battling for bowl eligibility.

The Miners (4-6, 2-4 C-USA) are coming off their second consecutive loss, falling at Rice 37-30 on a late score by the Owls on Nov. 3. Baechle continued his historic season, going 3-for-3 on field goal attempts and adding a 3-for-3 effort on PATs against the Owls on national television.

Baechle, who was recently recognized as a top 20 semifinalist for the Lou Groza Collegiate Place-Kicker Award, has connected on a school-record 20 consecutive field goals. Calvin Brownholtz was inserted late into the ball game when starting QB Gavin Hardison left with an injury.

Brownholtz engineered an 11-play, 75-yard drive that resulted in a 25-yard rushing score from the back up QB to tie the game at 27 early in the fourth quarter.

After Rice took a 30-27 lead following a Christian VanSickle 38-yard field goal, the Brownholtz went under center and drove the Miners 60 yards on nine plays that ended with a Baechle 32-yard kick to tie the contest at 30 all with 2:35 to play.

But TJ McMahon threw his second TD of the game, a 23-yard strike to Bradley Rozner with 25 seconds left. Brownholtz finished 7-of-10 for 56 yards and led the team with 64 yards on eight carries and a score.

Tyrice Knight (12) and Cal Wallerstedt (10) each recorded double-digit tackles, while Wallerstedt tallied a sack to bring his total to 6.5 on the season.

The Golden Panthers (4-6, 2-4 C-USA) are coming off a 52-7 loss against instate rival Florida Atlantic in “Shula Bowl XXI” on Nov. 12.

The Owls jumped out to a 21-0 lead after one quarter of play and took a 31-7 lead into the locker room at the half. FIU’s lone score was on a 28-yard run to the end zone by QB Grayson James.

James rushed for 47 yards on nine carries. James threw two interceptions on 9-of-26 passing (56 yards). Lexington Joseph led FIU with 87 yards rushing. LB Reggie Peterson led the defense with 11 tackles.

“[FIU] has shown flashes of being a good football team” Dimel said. “They've had some outstanding performances where they beat Charlotte handily. They beat LA Tech. They flew out here and beat New Mexico State. So, they've had some games where they've played really good football and had some big victories for the program. And so, they're definitely a good team. That is a big challenge for us because of those, because they have played at a high level and because of the athleticism that they have on both sides of the football and in the special teams.”

SERIES VS. FIU

FIU leads the all-time series 3-1. The series is tied 1-1 in games played in El Paso.

The Golden Panthers have won the last three meetings, including a 32-17 victory in Miami in the last meeting on Oct. 19, 2019. 

FIU won the last game played in El Paso, 35-21, in 2016. The Miners won the first meeting, 33-10, in ‘The 915’ in 2013.

SCOUTING FIU

FIU has lost two games in a row after its 52-7 loss against instate rival Florida Atlantic in the 21st edition of the ‘Shula Bowl’ on Nov. 12. The Golden Panthers are averaging 19.0 points per game, while giving up 374 points (37.4 ppg). 

FIU is averaging 331.7 yards per game and is yielding 445.3 points per contest. Lexington Joseph leads the way with 508 yards rushing and has scored five rushing TDs.

He’s added 155 yards on 26 receptions and two scores. Joseph has returned 21 kickoffs for 490 yards (21.3 avg.), ranking fourth in C-USA kickoff return average. Grayson James has thrown for 1,913 yards on 204-of-342 passing.

James has tossed 11 touchdowns and 10 picks. Tyrese Chambers has hauled in 49 receptions for 535 yards and four scores – leads the team in all three categories.

LB Gaethan Bernadel leads the team with 82 tackles and ranks sixth in Conference USA. LB Shaun Peterson Jr. leads with 5.0 sacks, while DB Dorian Hall has picked off two passes.

Article Topic Follows: UTEP

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