Error-prone UTEP Miners drop heartbreaker to Jacksonville State, 17-14
El Paso Times JACKSONVILLE, Ala. — Season openers for evenly matched teams come down to who makes the fewest mistake. For the second consecutive season, that wasn't the Miners, who once again are in an early hole after a coulda-won-it 17-14 loss to Jacksonville State on Saturday.
The Miners won the stats decisively, but had three turnovers while forcing zero, dropped two touchdown passes that were tough but catchable, missed a field goal, committed killer penalties and lost to a Gamecocks team that did not reciprocate the errors. UTEP quarterback Gavin Hardison is hit by Jacksonville State's Larry Worth causing a fumble during college football action at Burgess-Snow Field Jacksonville State Stadium in Jacksonville, Alabama August 26, 2023. (Dave Hyatt: The Gadsden Times) Down at the end Through all that the Miners gave themselves a chance, driving to the 24-yard line to set up a 3rd-and-1 with 1:26 remaining.
With Jacksonville State stacked to stop the run, Gavin Hardison, who was mostly excellent outside of one interception, dropped a pass right into the arms of an open Kelly Akaharaiyi in the end zone, who was unable to duplicate the back-shoulder touchdown catch he had early in the fourth quarter. He also had an apparent touchdown pass in the first quarter overturned on review that swung 10 points. Play of the game That set up 4th and 1, and a Miner team that spent most of the game pounding the ball up the middle again tried a pass.
Nothing was open and Hardison had to try to force the ball to Tyrin Smith. JSU's Jeremiah Harris jumped the route and won the game with an interception with 1:15 remaining. That was the Miners' second fourth-down failure of the game on 4th-and-short passes and their third turnover.
"If they were playing the run we were going to pass it, if they were playing the run we were going to run it, they were playing the run," Dimel said. "No one ran with Tyrin, but one of our receivers (Jeremiah Ballard) didn't get a great release, his guy collisioned him and Tyrin ran right into him because the release wasn't good enough. "I think we're the better team but we didn't play like it tonight.
We outgained them by a bunch of yards but we didn't find a way to win the game. " To that point, UTEP had 364 yards to the Gamecocks' 275, 22 first downs to 15 and won time of possession by more than nine minutes. The turnovers meant more and a Jacksonville State team that didn't do much that was spectacular but everything solidly enough to get the 1-0 start that eluded UTEP.