LAS CRUCES, N.M. – The New Mexico State football team dropped the 91st meeting of the Battle of I-10 against UTEP with a final score of 42-21.
The Aggies recorded a season-high 299 yards passing but turnovers hampered the Crimson and White. Senior quarterback Andrew McDonald led the way with 156 yards and two passing touchdowns, while freshman quarterback King Davis III posted 143 yards in the air with his first career passing touchdown.
Defensively, redshirt junior linebacker Clint Barnard tallied a game-high 20 tackles, while senior safety Davis Cazares was also in double-digits with 16.
The 91st meeting started with three scoring drives in the first four minutes of play. The first scoring drive came off an Aggie fumble after the kickoff. UTEP recovered the ball at the three-yard line, and the Miners drove the ball in with a three-yard pass for a 6-0 lead in the first 10 seconds of the game.
NM State quickly answered back with a career-long 81 yard pass to junior wide receiver Jerrel Brown from McDonald to knot the score at seven apiece after just 30 seconds into the first quarter.
UTEP marched down the field on its next possession and drove in the Miners’ second touchdown of the game with a 12-yard rush by Miners quarterback Jameill Showers. The Aggies matched the touchdown with one of their own with a 20-yard touchdown McDonald pass to Perris Scoggins, his second career touchdown as an Aggie.
With the score locked at 14, senior nose tackle Kevin Laudermill recorded his second sack of the season, forcing the Miners’ first punt of the game after a 4th-and-15. NM State continued the matching trend with a 46-yard punt after going three-and-out for the first time during the 2013 edition of the Battle of I-10.
After marching their way back down the field, the Miners missed a 31-yard field goal, turning the ball over the Aggies at their own 20-yard line. NM State punted away shortly after with a 66-yard punt from senior Cayle Chapman-Brown, good for his second longest this season.
A less active start to the second quarter left the teams trading possessions until NM State recorded its third quarterback sack of the game; a one-yard loss made by senior linebacker Trashaun Nixon. After the Miners were forced to punt, Davis III threw for a 24-yard pass to junior tight end Andrew Dean, giving the Aggies a chance to drive the ball further down the field. A late Aggie fumble turned the ball over to UTEP at its own 14-yard line.
A 48-yard pass by UTEP’s Showers drove the Miners to the NM State 22-yard line, giving them leverage to score on an eight-yard rush by Aaron Jones, pushing UTEP ahead of the Aggies 21-14 with 17 seconds left in the half.
The second half took off with freshman safety Kawe Johnson grabbing an interception at the UTEP 11-yard line. On the following play, NM State threw an interception in the end zone that was picked off by Miner Dashone Smith. UTEP used the momentum to drive the ball to the NM State 16-yard line before Cazares forced a UTEP fumble.
NM State swiftly tied the game at 21-21 with 7:24 on the clock after Davis III threw his first career touchdown to junior running back Brandon Betancourt for 72 yards. The touchdown was Betancourt’s first career receiving touchdown as an Aggie. UTEP turned around on its next drive for a 54-yard rushing touchdown to regain the lead 28-21.
It took until the 5:27 mark of the fourth quarter for either team to drive into the end zone again. UTEP had an 88-yard drive that was capped with a 17-yard rushing touchdown by UTEP running back Darrin Laufasa. With the Miners leading the Aggies 35-21, NM State’s McDonald threw an interception, giving the Miners the ball at the 45-yard line. UTEP wasted no time and ran in for a 45-yard touchdown.
NM State returns to the road as the Aggies travel to face UCLA on Sept. 21, at the Rose Bowl in Los Angeles, Calif. Kickoff is set for 8:30 p.m. (MT) and is available on Pac 12 Network.