On This Date: The Miner Miracle

On this date is 1985 UTEP slayed a giant. Defending National Champion and seventh-ranked BYU came to the Sun Bowl as winners of the nineteen of their last twenty outings and unbeaten in 28 straight WAC games. 21,000 MIner fans barely dented the Sun Bowl interior, but they witnessed one of the greatest upsets in college football history.

Bill Yung’s Miners lost fifteen of their previous seventeen games including all six in 1985. They won eight games total through five and half years of the 1980s when the Cougars rolled into town.

Trailing 7-0 and facing a second and 20, the Miners scored on a 52-yard bomb as freshman Clarence Seay got behind BYU’s defense and streaked into the end zone. BYU regained the lead and looked to extend it when a ball bounced off a Cougar receiver and into the waiting arms of Danny Taylor. The Miners capped the turnover with a field goal to tie the game at 10.

UTEP wouldn’t trail again.

Taylor made two more interceptions including a 100-yard pick six, one of five first-half turnovers by the Cougars. BYU outgained UTEP 454-311, but UTEP forced critical errors and let John Harvey loose to run for 102 yards on 24 carries. The Miners sealed the game with a twelve play 69-yard drive to set up a field goal and give UTEP the 23-16 win. Miner fans rushed the field, tore down the goal posts, all in front of a bewildered BYU team.

Embattled Miner coach Bill Yung said afterward, “perhaps it was a miracle, but you know what? I believe in Miracles.”

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