EL PASO, Texas (Sept. 15)- The New Mexico State football team lost the 90th meeting with its I-10 rival UTEP Miners, 41-28, at the Sun Bowl in El Paso Saturday night.
The Aggies found themselves down early, played well during the middle portion of the game, but could never quite catch up to the Miners. NM State falls to 1-2 on the season while the Miners are also now 1-2.
Aggie sophomore quarterback Andrew Manley finished the game 20-of-47 with 290 passing yards, three touchdowns and one interception. NM State had a couple of 100-yard receivers in the game, senior wide receiver Kemonte' Bateman finished with seven catches for a season-high 115 yards receiving and one touchdown while sophomore wide receiver Austin Franklin also finished with seven catches for 107 yards and two touchdowns. On the ground, NM State was led by junior running back Germi Morrison who ran the ball 12 times for 76 yards. Junior running back Tiger Powell had the only touchdown on the ground for the Aggies and finished with 49 yards on 12 carries.
Defensively, senior cornerback Jeremy Harris and junior strong safety George Callender each had nine tackles to lead the Aggies.
After receiving the opening kickoff, Manley threw an interception on his second throw of the game. UTEP senior strong safety Richard Spencer picked off Manley at the Aggie 47-yard line. The Aggies would not score their first points until their final possession of the half.
The Miners scored a touchdown on their first four possessions. UTEP had two rushing touchdowns from sophomore running back Josh Bell and two throwing touchdowns from senior quarterback Nick Lamaison. With 10 minutes left in the first half, the Miners had a 27-0 lead.
One of the bright spots for NM State in the half was a blocked extra-point attempt by Aggie senior Desmond Anaya.
NM State finally got on the board with 3:05 left in the half when Manley hit Franklin who was running a deep cross route. The 37-yard touchdown pass cut the Miner lead to 27-7.
UTEP proceeded to drive down the field, but botched a 25-yard field goal with 15 seconds left in the half.
Manley finished the half 8-of-17 with one interception, one touchdown and 116 yards passing. Franklin had four catches in the half for 71 yards and a touchdown. Powell led the Aggies on the ground in the first half with 11 total rushing yards.
NM State cut the Miner lead to 13 on its second possession of the second half. After a UTEP late hit penalty, Manley hit Bateman on a 47-yard pass play down the right side that put the ball on the Miner 1-yard line. Powell punched it in a couple of plays later to make the score 27-14 with 6:03 left in the third quarter. It was Powell's fourth rushing touchdown of the year. He has scored at least one touchdown in each of the Aggies' first three games.
It took the Miners only three plays, however, to answer the Aggie touchdown. The 58-second drive was punctuated with a 17-yard touchdown pass from Lamaison to junior tight end Craig Wenrick. The third quarter ended with the Miners on top 34-14.
NM State drove into Miner territory during its next two drives but could not convert on fourth down on both drives, once at the Miner 21-yard line and again at the Miner 39-yard line.
UTEP took advantage of the second missed conversion by the Aggies and capped off a 6-play, 61-yard drive with a 36 yard touchdown pass from Lamaison to senior wide receiver Michael Edwards which gave the Miners a 41-14 lead with under 10 minutes left in the game.
Aided by a 25-yard pass play from Manley to junior tight end Perris Scoggins, NM State once again drove deep into Miner territory and for the third straight series found itself with a fourth down conversion opportunity. This time, however, Manley hit Bateman in the right corner of the end zone for a 25-yard touchdown pass.
The Aggies added a late 11-yard touchdown pass from Manley to Franklin to make the final score 41-28.
NM State now welcomes I-25 rival New Mexico to Aggie Memorial Stadium next Saturday, Sept. 22. Game time is set for 6:00 p.m. (MT).