EL PASO, Texas (AP)—More than two years in the making, El Paso’s big party didn’t even last three hours.
Colt McCoy passed for 282 yards and four touchdowns and No. 10 Texas spoiled the biggest regular-season game in Texas-El Paso history Saturday night with a 42-13 victory.
Quan Cosby caught eight passes for 154 yards and a score for the Longhorns (2-0), who built a big first-half lead, then put the game away with McCoy’s 15-yard TD strike to Jordan Shipley early in the fourth quarter. Moments later, Rod Muckelroy returned a fumble 26 yards for a touchdown for the final score.
“We got our first win on the road,” McCoy said. “We passed the test.”
It was the first time the teams had met since 1933, and the excitement over one of El Paso’s biggest sports events ever had been building in the border city since May 2006, when the game was first announced.
A Sun Bowl record crowd of 53,415 sold out the game weeks ago and a few dozen fans who couldn’t get tickets scrambled up the side of the Franklin Mountain range around the stadium to watch while perched high over the stadium.
“That was cool. That was the best seat in the house,” McCoy said.
UTEP fans wore T-shirts printed with “New Brand of Texas Football” and “09-06-08: Where will you be?” The fun hit a fever pitch by game time when coach Mike Price, wielding a large red pickax, led the Miners onto the field while high- fiving the crowd and fireworks burst overhead.
“I’m glad it’s over with. The game was great for El Paso, great for Texas. We thank (Texas) for giving us this opportunity to play them. That part was a lot of fun and a lot of fun for the fans,” Price said.
The frenzy lasted for a little while as the Miners drove to field goals of 30 and 49 yards by Jose Martinez on their first two possessions before Texas finally answered with McCoy’s first TD pass, 16 yards to Cosby.
The Longhorns soon restored order when it comes to the state of football in Texas.
McCoy was 14 of 16 passing in the first half and his 12-yard TD to Dan Buckner put Texas up 14-6.
“He was scrambling in the backfield and found the open receivers. We needed to get him down,” UTEP defensive back Da’Mon Cromartie-Smith said.
UTEP was looking for a spark when Price sent the strong-legged Martinez out to try to a 65-yard field goal. The kick fell just short and Cosby caught the ball nine yards deep in the end zone before returning it all the way to the UTEP 35. Cody Johnson capped the short drive with a 1-yard TD run, draining most of the energy out of the hopeful Miners fans.
“I’ve seen it in the NFL,” Cosby said of his return. “When I saw it coming my way, I was like, ‘Oh, I may get this, I may get this.”
McCoy’s third TD pass put Texas up by 22 before a late UTEP score before halftime kept the record crowd from leaving early. Trevor Vittatoe’s 12-yard TD pass to Tufick Shadrawy cut the Texas lead to 28-13.
Vittatoe passed for 267 yards and Texas players sounded a bit surprised by the fight in a UTEP team that has lost eight in a row, including a dreadful 42-17 loss at Buffalo a week earlier.
“They’re a lot better than advertised,” Cosby said.
The Miners held Texas scoreless in the third before the Longhorns ended any chance they might get back in the game. Shipley was wide-open after McCoy pump faked and lobbed a soft pass into the end zone for his last touchdown pass. On UTEP’s next possession, a loose ball popped right into Muckelroy’s arms and he took off for the end zone.
“When I saw the ball I said, `Scoop and score,”’ Muckelroy said.
That’s when Miners fans finally started heading for the exits. The party was over.