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One-on-one with UTEP’s Dana Dimel: Miners prepare for 100th edition of the Battle of I-10

(Courtesy: UTEP Athletics)

EL PASO, Texas - UTEP will host NM State in a rivalry that dates back decades as the 100th Battle of I-10 is Wednesday night.

The Miners and the Aggies will clash as league foes for the first time in 62 seasons in Sun Bowl Stadium with kickoff set for 7 p.m. on ESPN2 and 600 ESPN El Paso.

Wednesday night’s contest is presented by Speaking Rock. Tickets for the Miners-Aggies Battle of I-10 are available by calling 915.747.UTEP, emailing at, or by visiting

The Miners and Aggies are squaring off as conference rivals for the first time since Oct. 28, 1961 when both were members of the Border Conference.

The Miners went 16-7-1 against the Aggies (1935-1961) during that stretch.

On Wednesday, the longtime rivals will meet as new CUSA foes while both squads are coming off conference victories.

The Miners (2-5, 1-2 Conference USA) used eight sacks (most in a single game since 2001) and a prolific passing game to down FIU 27-14 last Wednesday. Reigning CUSA Defensive Player of the Week Maurice Westmoreland tallied career highs in sacks (2.5), tackles for loss (3.5) and tackles (six), while Praise Amaewhule was crowned sack king after breaking the school record during the third quarter. He finished with 2.0 sacks and now has a school-standard 21.5 in his career. Transfer defensive end Kanious Vaughn’s career-best 2.0 sacks added to the attack on “Vice Night”.

Kelly Akharaiyi put career numbers after recorded career bests in receiving yards (223), receptions (eight) and touchdown catches (two). He also hauled in a career-long 80-yard scoring pass from Cade McConnell, who made his first start as a Miner under center against the Panthers.

McConnell threw for 262 yards on 11-of-17 passing and had no turnovers. McConnell, who entered the campaign fourth on the depth chart, tossed a second score, a 23-yard TD pass to Akharaiyi as part of a dominant 21-point first quarter. Deion Hankins started the fireworks with a one-yard touchdown, his 20th career rushing score. Buzz Flabiano added a pair of field goals, including a career-long 37-yard make during the second quarter. Joshua Sloan, who was named the CUSA Special Teams Player of the Year Monday, boomed a career-long 65-yard punt.

The Aggies (4-3, 2-1 CUSA) are coming off a 27-13 win against Sam Houston in Las Cruces on Oct. 11, as CUSA Offensive Player of the Week Diego Pavia accounted for 401 yards of total offense and three touchdowns.

Pavia threw for 286 yards (20-36) and two scores, while adding 115 yards and a TD on the ground. Trent Hudson led the way with 122 yards on three receptions and two touchdowns. The Aggies totaled 458 yards on offense, while giving up 367. Safety Myles Rowser led with 10 tackles. NM State has won two in a row – both in Aggie Memorial Stadium – defeating FIU 34-17 on Oct. 4. The Aggies have also won three of the last four games, defeating New Mexico 27-17 on Sept. 16, but then falling at Hawai’i 20-17 on Sept. 23. NM State’s lone CUSA loss came at undefeated Liberty 33-17 on Sept. 9. Pavia has been one of the top signal callers not only in CUSA but nationally as he’s leading an offense averaging 30.0 points per game.

“Talking about New Mexico State where they had a good start to their season. They have a lot of skill on offense. They got good receivers, good running backs, a good quarterback,” UTEP Head Coach Dana Dimel said. “(They’ve) had some success this year with those guys. They're very aggressive defensively with what they do. A lot of pressures in that in the defensive scheme that they have. So, a lot of preparation for us goes into this game, and it's always a fun game to play. So, whenever you have your rivalry game, it's great. I think it's great that it's on national TV. I think that's good exposure for both programs, and we're looking forward to the opportunity.”

UTEP (2-5, 1-2) vs. NM State (4-3, 2-1)

Date: Wednesday, Oct. 18

Time: 7:00 p.m. MT

Location: El Paso, Texas

Venue: Sun Bowl Stadium (45,971)

X Updates: @UTEPFB


PxP: John Schriffen

Analyst: Cole Cubelic

Sideline: Taylor Davis

Radio: 600 ESPN El Paso

PxP: Jon Teicher

Analyst: Cole Freytag

Sideline: Mando Medina


The 100th Battle of I-10 will be nationally televised on ESPN2 with John Schriffen (play-by-play) and Cole Cubelic (analysis) calling the action. The action is on 600 ESPN El Paso with “The Voice of the Miners” Jon Teicher calling play-by-play in his 43rd season. ‘Teich’, who just called his 500th UTEP football game, is joined by former UTEP WR Cole Freytag (2012, 2014-16) in the booth providing analysis in his second season, and Mando Medina reporting from the sidelines. The action can also be heard on the UTEP Miners app.


UTEP leads the all-time rivalry 59-38-2. The Miners lead the Aggies 39-17-1 all time in the 915. Last season, after taking a double-digit lead into halftime, UTEP won 20-13 in Sun Bowl Stadium on Sept. 10, 2022, to extend the win streak to two games. The Orange and Blue also beat NM State 30-3 in 2021. The Aggies had previously won three in a row, defeating the Miners 44-35 (2019 in LC), 27-20 (2018 in EP) and 41-14 (2017 in LC). Prior to that stint, UTEP won eight consecutive games from 2009 to 2016. The 2015 matchup was one of the more exciting of the 100-year rivalry as the Miners rallied to a 50-47 OT victory in Aggie Memorial Stadium. It was the first overtime game in the history of the rivalry. UTEP trailed 30-16 and 44-30 with a little over four minutes remaining in regulation. QB Ryan Metz orchestrated a three-play, 75-yard drive, capped by a 48-yard TD pass to fellow El Pasoan WR Cole Freytag. He then led UTEP on an eight-play, 98-yard march, taking it into the end zone himself with an eight-yard scamper. Aggie K Sy Slater hit a 44-yard FG to open the extra period, but Metz capped the game with a six-yard touchdown pass TE Cedrick Lang. The eight-game winning streak by the Miners is the longest of the series. The two programs first met on Oct. 24, 1914, in Las Cruces with the Aggies coming out on top 19-0. NMSU won the 1915 meeting 30-0, while the Miners’ first victory was a 7-6 outcome in 1916. The Aggies’ longest win streak of the series is five games from 1920 to 1924 before tying 6-6 in 1925. The Miners won 92-7 in 1948 (most points by UTEP in the series), while the Aggies’ top score was 64 during a shutout in 1922.


After taking a double-digit lead into halftime, UTEP squeaked by with a 20-13 victory in Sun Bowl Stadium on Sept. 10, 2022, to extend the win streak to two games. The Miners jumped out to a 17-0 halftime lead, highlighted by RB Ronald Awatt’s 22-yard rushing score and a WR Tyrin Smith’s nine-yard touchdown reception from QB Gavin Hardison. The Aggies picked up the slack in the second half as NM State QB Diego Pavia scored on 14 and 11-yard touchdown runs. K Gavin Baechle added his second field goal with a 46-yard make in the third quarter. Awatt owned the gridiron with a game-high 115 yards on the ground and a score. Pavia ran for a team-high 69 yards, while RB Star Thomas gained 50 yards on only two carries. LB Cal Wallerstedt led the defense with nine tackles while S Kobe Hylton and DE Praise Amaewhule each added eight tackles. Each team gained 17 first downs, while UTEP gained 298 yards of total offense and NM State tallied 261. The Miners committed a pair of turnovers, while the Aggies gave the ball away a trio of occasions. LB James Neal and Wallerstedt each recovered a fumble, while LB Tyrice Knight intercepted a pass.


UTEP was 16-7-1 versus NM State when both were members of the Border Conference from 1935-1961. The Miners and Aggies first matchup as conference foes was on Nov. 28, 1935 (Aggies won 7-0 in Las Cruces). The last contest as Border Conference rivals was on Oct. 28, 1961 (NM State won 42-6 in El Paso). At one point, UTEP had won 14 of 16 meetings from 1939 to 1957. The two teams tied 20-20 in 1952, while the Aggies beat the Miners 14-7 in 1946.


UTEP will host the Battle of I-10 for the second consecutive season, making it the first time since the 1999-2000 seasons. The Miners won both contests, 54-23 in 1999 and 41-31 in 2000.


The Aggies have won two in a row after defeating FIU 34-17 on Oct. 4 and Sam Houston 27-13 on Oct. 11. QB Diego Pavia has been one of the most consistent field generals not only in Conference USA but on a national scale. Pavia has a QB rating of 166.9, ranking second in CUSA and 18th in FBS. He’s thrown for 1,615 yards on 102-of-164 passing (62.2 percent) with 14 touchdowns. The dual-threat 6-foot, 200-pound QB has added a team-high 431 yards on the ground with a pair of rushing scores. RB Star Thomas leads the team with four rushing TDs and RB Monte Watkins ranks second on the squad with 306 yards on 25 carries (12.2 avg.). WR Jonathan Brady leads the team in receptions (18) and yards receiving (338). WR Trent Hudson paces the team with five receiving scores. LB Keyshaun Elliott leads the defense with 49 tackles and 6.0 tackles for loss. S Torren Union and CB Andre Sheldon each recorded an interception.


Three current Miners were once Aggies as OL Ivan Escobar, TE Kheagian Heckaman and CB Brandon Shivers wore the crimson and black. UTEP offensive coordinator Scotty Ohara served as offensive assistant/QB assistant with NM State head coach Jerry Kill (offensive coordinator/quarterbacks coach) at Rutgers during the 2017 season. A trio of El Pasoans are on NM State’s roster – WR Mile McWhorter (Franklin HS), S Angel Muñoz (Riverside HS) and RB Isaiah Rudison (El Dorado HS). 


UTEP is 3-0 in Wednesday regular-season contests following a 27-14 victory at FIU on Oct. 11. Prior, the Miners beat Tulsa 28-24 on Oct. 21, 2009, in the Sun Bowl. The Miners also played on Nov. 11, 1931, during a 14-12 win over Texas Tech in El Paso.


UTEP’s 21 points in the first quarter at FIU on Oct. 11 were the most since scoring 28 at Tulsa on Oct. 18, 2008. The three touchdowns matched the Miners’ trio of scores against NM State on Sept. 15, 2012, however an extra point was missed during that stretch.

MR. 500

Longtime "Voice of the Miners" Jon Teicher  hit a milestone moment that few broadcasters dare to dream of when he called his 500th UTEP football game at FIU on Oct. 11.

The legendary play-by-play man is in his 43rd season behind the mic for the Orange and Blue.

A 2001 inductee into the El Paso Athletic Hall of Fame, he was also honored in New York City in December of 2017 as the recipient of the Chris Schenkel Award by the National Football Foundation, for a long and distinguished career broadcasting college football by the National Football Foundation.

Article Topic Follows: UTEP

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Adrian Ochoa

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