What a grand opening by UTEP to the 2019 football season.
Okay, so the Miners showed some of the mishaps of the last two years – like holding, an interception and a bad snap from center.
But hey, they had a tiger by the tail in the underdog Houston Baptist Huskies – and the Miners, unlike the last two years, never threw in the towel. They won 36-34.
And what a beautiful setting it was for the game. More than 34,600 bodies – the largest crowd in five years – showed up at the Sun Bowl Stadium with fingers crossed.
They weren’t disappointed. Hey, a win is a win.
WHAT’S MORE, the Miners came up with a sterling running back, Treyvon Hughes, who rushed for 144 yards and two touchdowns.
And quarterback Brandon Jones showed flashes of brilliance. His 80-yard touchdown to Tre’Shon Wolf was a beauty. Jones, making his second start for UTEP, hit Wolf in full stride with pin-point accuracy, It reminded me of the Miners’ Billy Stevens pass to Bob Wallace in the “Turning Point Game” in 1965.
Jones completed 10-of-20 passes for 268 yards.
THE MINERS also came up with a reliable kicker in Gavin Baechle, who converted three field goals for UTEP, including a 35-yarder for the game winner in the fourth quarter.
The Miners may lose to Texas Tech in Lubbock this weekend, but that can’t distract from the Miners’ opening game. All in all, it was a gritty performance.
TRIVIA QUESTION: When did the New York Yankees play in El Paso? Answer at end of column.
I’VE ALWAYS held a soft spot in my heart for softball. I remember everybody seemed to be playing the sport in El Paso after World War II. Especially in the 1950s and 1960s. Heck, even a team from El Paso, the Dautrich Jacks, went to Rock Island, Illinois, and won world championship in 1961 and 1962.
So I was happy to learn that head UTEP softball coach Tobin-Hawk, announce the addition of former players Camilla Carrera and Kaitlin Fifield as assistant coaches.
CARRERA is the first and only softball player from UTEP to be named All-American. She was also inducted into the UTEP Athletic Hall of Fame and named Conference USA Player of the Year.
She played for the Miners from 2008-2012 and became UTEP’s all-time leader in batting average (.401), on-base percentage (.508), games started (219), hits (260), home runs (61) and RBIs (197.
DID YOU KNOW? The Cathedral Alumni Association has contributed more than $456,589 in scholarships and support funds for Cathedral athletes. Wow.
Some of the funds have been generated by the Irish Open golf tournament which will be held this year on Friday, Sept.13. There will also be a Tamalada and dance.
TRIVIA ANSWER: In 1951. El Pasoans (including me) saw Mickey Mantle, a rookie at the time, hit a long homerun. Yogi Berra hit one, too. And we saw Jo DiMaggio, so graceful an outfielder, make one of his swan-like catches.