Flashback: BYU pulls away from UTEP in the fourth quarter

On this day, 14 years ago, the Brigham Young Cougars saw the UTEP Miners play evenly with them for three quarters before pulling away in the fourth quarter for a comfortable 31-14 win.

In front of just 19,307 spectators at the Sun Bowl, UTEP was trying to do something it hadn’t done since 1968—beat BYU two years in a row. The Miners started right by scoring a touchdown on their first possession of the game to take a 7-0 lead. That lead would stand through the rest of the first quarter.

BYU would tie the game ten seconds into the second quarter with a 10-yard pass from Kevin Feterik to Tevita Ofahengaue. Feterik didn’t have a strong day passing the ball finishing with just 185 yards and completing 17 of 25, but he was able to keep BYU in the game with his two touchdown passes. His second touchdown pass was 9-yards to Mike Rigell in the third quarter, which answered the 60-yard touchdown pass UTEP had earlier in the quarter, and tied the game at 14-14.   

The game remained tied going into the decisive fourth quarter. The BYU run game came alive and carried the Cougars to victory, but not until the Cougar defense made a stand.

UTEP was poised to take the lead once again. Having missed two field goals already, UTEP elected to go for the first down on fourth and inches from the BYU 21-yard line. The Miners should have tried the field goal. The BYU defense held.

On the very next play, Ronney Jenkins broke off a 79-yard touchdown run that broke the 14-all tie, and gave BYU its first lead of the game. He would finish the game with 176 yards on 21 carries. It was the second most rushing yards of his career (250 yards vs. San Jose State, 1998).

Less than a minute and a half later, freshman Reno Mahe extended BYU’s lead with a 6-yard touchdown run later in the quarter. UTEP had fumbled the ball, and BYU recovered just 18 yards away from the end zone.

There was still 10:48 to play, but BYU had all the momentum.

BYU got the ball back just 65 seconds later near midfield. The Cougar offense used 4:39 to drive into field goal range. Placekicker Owen Pochman added a 35-yard field goal for insurance with 5:04 to play.

BYU outscored UTEP 17-0 in the final quarter to win comfortably 31-14.

Although BYU struggled to score early in the game, the offense did finish with 444 total yards and converted 64 percent of its third downs (9 of 14).  

Linebacker Rob Morris led the way on defense with 12 tackles. Ed Kehl made 3 of BYU’s 12 tackles for loss. Chris Ellison also had a good game with double-digit tackles (10).

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