Football: Owls drop third straight, fall 27-17 to UTEP

UTEP scores three touchdowns through the air and capitalizes on FAU second-half mistakes.

Freshman+running+back+Trey+Rodriguez+%2822%29+avoids+two+Marshall+defenders+during+the+Owls%27+game+versus+Marshall.+Rodriguez+ran+for+114+yards+and+a+touchdown+during+Saturday+night%27s+27-17+loss+to+UTEP.+Mohammed+Emran+%7C+Asst.+Creative+
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Football: Owls drop third straight, fall 27-17 to UTEP

Freshman running back Trey Rodriguez (22) avoids two Marshall defenders during the Owls' game versus Marshall. Rodriguez ran for 114 yards and a touchdown during Saturday night's 27-17 loss to UTEP. Mohammed Emran | Asst. Creative

Freshman running back Trey Rodriguez (22) avoids two Marshall defenders during the Owls' game versus Marshall. Rodriguez ran for 114 yards and a touchdown during Saturday night's 27-17 loss to UTEP. Mohammed Emran | Asst. Creative

Freshman running back Trey Rodriguez (22) avoids two Marshall defenders during the Owls' game versus Marshall. Rodriguez ran for 114 yards and a touchdown during Saturday night's 27-17 loss to UTEP. Mohammed Emran | Asst. Creative

Freshman running back Trey Rodriguez (22) avoids two Marshall defenders during the Owls' game versus Marshall. Rodriguez ran for 114 yards and a touchdown during Saturday night's 27-17 loss to UTEP. Mohammed Emran | Asst. Creative

Josh Talero, Contributing Writer

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A combination of injuries, penalties and defensive miscues led to football’s sixth loss of the season Saturday in El Paso, as the Owls fell to UTEP 27-17.

FAU’s (1-6, 1-3 C-USA) offense had trouble finding any rhythm to start the game as they failed to score on their first two drives, including a fumble at the 1-yard line by redshirt senior quarterback Jaquez Johnson during the team’s second drive of the game.

The turnover led to the first Miners touchdown of the game, a 76-yard receiving touchdown by Tyler Baston to give UTEP a 7-0 lead with 4:59 left in the first quarter.

After a 59-yard run by freshman running back Trey Rodriguez, FAU secured its first points of the game on a 25-yard field goal by junior kicker Greg Joseph, reducing UTEP’s lead 7-3 with 12:45 to go in the half.

Sophomore running back Greg Howell followed up the field goal with a score of his own, which gave the Owls a 10-7 lead with 6:54 left in the first quarter.

Howell’s play came after senior Jenson Stoshak recovered a muffed punt reception on the Miners’ 3-yard line on the previous play.

UTEP took the lead back on a 17-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Mack Leftwich to wide receiver Jaquan White with 3:28 left in the first half, making it 14-10.

Trey Rodriguez registered his first score of the game with a 38-yard rushing touchdown. The score put FAU ahead 17-14 at halftime.

FAU’s defense held UTEP to just 40 yards of rushing in the first half, but gave up 214 yards through the air as the Miners took several shots on deep passes to attack the FAU secondary.

Rodriguez provided the bulk of the FAU rushing yards in the first half, with six runs that went for 112 yards and a score. He ended the game with seven carries, 114 yards and one touchdown.

Freshman safety Jalen Young entered the game for the first time in the second half after missing the first half stemming from an ejection last week against Marshall for a targeting penalty. Young’s return, however, was not enough for the Owls to slow down UTEP’s air attack.

The Miners scored the first points of the second half on a 30-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Leftwich to receiver Tyler Batson, giving the Miners a 21-17 lead with 6:54 to go in the third quarter.

After a 33-yard reception by Stoshak, Johnson threw a costly interception at the opponent’s 1-yard line that stopped any momentum the Owls had.

Following the interception, FAU gave the ball back to UTEP after a punt grazed the leg of an FAU player and was recovered by the Miners. The Owls committed three total turnovers throughout the game.

Redshirt freshman quarterback Jason Driskel entered the game with 11:49 left in the fourth quarter for FAU after Johnson left the game because of a pre-existing ankle injury which he suffered earlier in the year.

UTEP scored two fourth quarter field goals, extending their lead 27-17, which would turn out to be the final score of the game.

The loss gives FAU its second three-game losing streak of the year and brings its overall record to 1-6. The win is UTEP’s first in Conference USA this year and breaks a two-game losing streak.

The Owls’ next game will be Oct. 31 versus the Florida International Golden Panthers. FIU is currently 4-4 and are coming off a 41-12 victory over Old Dominion.

Josh Talero is a contributing writer for the University Press. To contact him on this or other stories, he can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter.