And the beat goes on.
In front of an announced crowd of 22,511, UTEP (4-1) outlasted the UNM football team, 38-20, Saturday at University Stadium.
“Right now, we are just not a very good football team,” head football coach Mike Locksley said. “I thought our guys, as they always have, played with effort from the beginning to the end.”
The Lobos looked as competitive as they’ve been all season, but gave up too many electrifying plays defensively.
Miner receiver Kris Adams had five receptions for 141 yards and two touchdowns.
More than four minutes into the game, UTEP quarterback Trevor Vittatoe, who was 20-of-37 and had 264 passing yards, hit Adams for a 48-yard touchdown toss. The two hooked up on a 49-yard touchdown later in the game that gave UTEP a 31-14 third quarter advantage.
Initially, things looked promising for the Lobos.
UNM struck first when Joe Stoner stripped the ball from UTEP tailback Vernon Frazier at the 27-yard line with 14:18 left in the first quarter.
Four plays later, freshman quarterback Tarean Austin scrambled for a 4-yard TD run for a 7-0 lead.
Then, UNM’s special teams unit finally showed up.
With 3:32 left in the first quarter, defensive lineman Peter Gardner blocked Dakota Warren’s 52-yard field goal, and cornerback Anthony Hooks scooped up the ball and scampered 45 yards into the end zone to tie the game at 14.
The kickoff also displayed flashes of brilliance.
With the game decided, freshman Myles Daughtry bolted for a 100-yard kickoff return in the final minutes of the fourth quarter to cut UTEP’s lead to 38-20.
“The coaches have told me the technique,” Daughtry said. “I saw the middle, and I just ran with it. If all the players hadn’t cooperated, I wouldn’t have been able to make that run.”
UNM’s running game also showed sparks for the first time this season.
Sophomore tailback Kasey Carrier had 12 carries for 60 yards, and Austin ran for another 36 yards.
Locksley said his team isn’t demoralized, despite back-to-back 0-5 starts under his leadership.
“As far as the guys giving up on the season, I can tell you that none of them have,” he said. “These guys don’t quit, and they’re going to go out and continue to give a great effort, and these coaches are going to continue to coach them up all the way to the end.”