The New Mexico State Aggies suffered a 42-24 loss to the UTEP Miners in El Paso, Texas, Saturday, September 13. NM State falls to 2-1 on the season, while falling to 35-55-2 in the overall series with UTEP, having lost the last six meetings between the two teams.
The Aggies showed signs of coming to life, but could never really get the run game going, having to relay fully on their passing attack. Head Coach Doug Martin said, “The third downs; when you can’t run the ball you are going to have a lot of third downs. A lot of third and longs and couldn’t convert. We also dropped a lot of passes that I thought hurt us. Overall, offensively we were just very ineffective.”
Aggies’ sophomore quarterback Tyler Rogers finished the game 22-40 for 324 yards with two interceptions and two touchdowns. Sophomore running back Xavier Hall lead NM State’s ground game with 44 yards on 10 carries. Brandon Bettencourt added 35 yards on eight carries. Redshirt sophomore Teldrick Morgan led all receivers with a career-high 202 yards on eight catches, while scoring one touchdown.
The Miner’s Jameill Showers threw for 126 yards on 13-16 passing, with one touchdown and one interception. Aaron Jones, the No. 1 rusher in the nation, ran for 168 yards and two touchdowns on 25 carries for UTEP.
NM State opened the game with a good offensive drive, highlighted by a 17 yard touchdown pass from Rogers to Matthews to put the Aggies up 7-0. The Aggies were at third and long late in the drive and drew a personal foul from UTEP when a Miners defender hit an unprotected Rogers after the ball was blown dead, setting up the NM State score.
UTEP’s first drive down the field saw Showers go a perfect 3-3 for 41 yards. The drive was capped off by a six yard rush by Jones on a play fake who ran into the end zone untouched. The remainder of the first quarter saw both the Aggies and Miners go three and out on their subsequent drives, with the quarter ending on a NM State drive to the UTEP 39 and the game tied 7-7.
To start the second quarter the Aggies continued their drive down the field, threatening early. Rogers connected with Morgan for a 34 yard pass, setting the Aggies up on the UTEP five. After a rush by NM State for no gain, the next play drew a 5-yard penalty for an ineligible receiver downfield, pushing the Aggies back to the UTEP 10. The Aggies would fail to score and instead settled for a field goal making it 10-7 NM State.
UTEP’s second quarter drive saw Showers continue his perfect completion rate, connecting twice for 25 yards and a touchdown. Aaron Jones also carried the ball three times for 27 yards. The drive ended with a touchdown from Showers to UTEP’s Autry Golden on the slant route for 15 yards to put the Miners up 14-10.
The following Aggie drive ended with Rogers throwing an interception in the end zone. The pass was intercepted by the Wesley Miller who was down in the end zone for a touchback. After the Miners drove down the field, highlighted by a 24 yard rush by Nathan Jeffery, Laufasa ran it in on a one yard rush to put the Miners up 21-10 going into the half.
The second half started with Showers throwing two incomplete passes in a row, breaking his perfect night, and ended the UTEP drive with his first interception of the year to Aggies corner Lewis Hill. The interception was Hill’s first of the season as well as the Miners first turnover of the year.
The Aggies failed to score on the ensuing drive, ending with a missed field goal by Maxwell Johnson from the 50-yard line. The missed opportunity for the Aggies put a lot of pressure on them going forward. “It was a key moment. Have to score a touchdown there,” said Martin. “Got the ball close to the 50-yard line and we only moved it 12 yards. That would have made it a 4-point game. Our defense gave us an opportunity right there and we did not take advantage of it.”
The next UTEP drive ended in similar fashion, with the Miners kicker missing a 49-yard field goal attempt. After a failed drive by the Aggies, the Miners drove the ball down the field and ended the third quarter with the ball and the NM State 7-yard line.
The opening play of the fourth quarter saw Showers run for seven yards on a quarterback keeper for the score to add to the Miners lead, 28-10. The Aggies following drive would go 75 yards on six plays, capped off by Rogers connecting with Morgan for a 57-yard TD. The PAT attempt by Johnson would be good, making the score 17-28 UTEP.
The Miners would answer though, driving up the field and eating valuable clock the whole way. On 12 plays, the miners drove the ball 70 yards in 7:35, ending the drive with a 1-yard rush by Jones to extend the Miners lead, 35-17.
The Aggies would look deep on their next drive and Rogers would be picked off for the second time of the night by UTEP’s Damian Payne, who would return the ball 28 yards to the NM State 13 yard line. The Miners then rushed the ball four times, finally scoring on a 1-yard rush by Garret Simpson, furthering the UTEP lead 42-17.
NM State’s last drive of the game would see the Aggies hurry down the field and score on a quarterback keeper by Rogers for a 1-yard TD. The score would cut the miners lead to 42-24 and be Rogers first rushing TD as an Aggie. The last drive of the game would see the miners run down the clock, ending the game on a final score of 42-24 UTEP.
UTEP rushed for 344 yard to NM State’s 90. NM State threw for 335 yard on 41 attempts and 23 completions. The Miners won the battle of possession, holding on to the ball for 39:26. Both teams were perfect in the red zone with UTEP going 6-6 and NM State 3-3. Third down conversions were scarce for the Aggies, only going 5-of-12.