EL PASO – University of New Mexico Lobos tried to take this whole ‘next man’ thing against UTEP to the extreme, but miners took advantage of dismantled UNM attack for victory 20-13 Saturday in front of 15 609 at Bol de soleil.
The Miners (3-1) scored 17 unanswered points in the second half, including two touchdowns in the third quarter to clinch the victory.
Six UNM players were banned Thursday night, but announced on Saturday, due to COVID-19 contact tracing rules.
Wide receivers Mannie Logan-Greene, Keyonta Lanier, Elijah Queen, Andrew Erickson and Zarak Scruggs Jr., as well as tight end Trace Bruckler have been ruled out after a positive case of COVID-19 in the squad that returned the players unavailable due to contact tracing, UNM athletics announced a few minutes before the match. The six players had helped help the Lobos start the season 2-1 before Saturday.
Only unvaccinated players have been tested, three times a week, for the coronavirus. Lobos who are not vaccinated were last tested on Thursday and UNM received news of the positive COVID-19 test later today. They have ruled out the players due to the utmost caution in tracing contact.
The UNM has demanded that all students, faculty and staff accessing UNM facilities get vaccinated by September 30.
Some of the excluded players could have been partially vaccinated.
The UNM did not name the player who tested positive, citing health and privacy regulations. UNM coach Danny Gonzales told the Journal his team were around 80% vaccinated three weeks ago.
At one point, UNM quarterback Terry Wilson threw 11 straight, eight to start the second half, showing the effects of players who had gone out. They are out indefinitely and it is not known whether they will be available for the Lobos’ Mountain West Conference opener against the Air Force next Saturday at University Stadium.
Another example of the Lobos’ pain without six key pass catchers: UNM went with a quarterback goaltender in the 3rd and 10th with just under 6 minutes left and failed to convert.
Luke Wysong, Jace Taylor and Austin Erickson each made their first start as receiver for the Lobos, who made it to UTEP 33 with less than a minute to go.
In the third quarter, the Miners attacked the Lobos (2-2) in depth and found success. They scored two touchdowns with two deep passes, the latter giving UTEP their first lead of the game, 17-13.
Jacob Cowing, the Miners’ main receiver, opened wide behind the defense for a 55-yard touchdown by Hobbs High product Gavin Hardison. Replays showed that another UTEP receiver rubbed a defender (Ronald Wilson), selecting him out of coverage on Cowing about 10 yards down the road from Cowing.
Hardison connected with wide receiver Justin Garrett for 37 yards to set up a 4-yard touchdown from Deion Hankins that drew the Miners to 13-10 early in the third quarter.
UNM led 13-3 at halftime.
Wilson led the Lobos on an 8-game, 67-yard practice ending with his skillful 12-yard run designed for SportsCenter. He dove into the end zone from about the 4-yard line and bounced off a mid-air tackle for the touchdown.