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TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — Tua Tagovailoa’s first throw went backward to Henry Ruggs III, who sprinted 75 yards to the end zone.
That’s about how the day went for No. 2 Alabama and their visitors from New Mexico State University on Saturday.
Tagovailoa passed for three touchdowns and ran 25 yards for a fourth, all in the first half of the Crimson Tide’s 62-10 victory over the visiting Aggies.
NMSU scored on a five-yard touchdown drive in the third quarter to help avoid the shutout against the 55½-point betting favorite in a game the Aggies were paid $1.7 million to pay.
The Crimson Tide (2-0) was off to the races starting with the game’s first play, when Ruggs collected the lateral in a play that was initially ruled a pass.
“We knew we wanted to start fast and what’s the best way to start than first play a 75-yard touchdown,” Ruggs said.
It didn’t get any better for the Aggies (0-2) after that in sweltering conditions that contributed to thousands of empty seats at Bryant-Denny Stadium.
“They’ve just got electric players all over the field, so the margin of error is so small,” Aggies coach Doug Martin said. “If you turn the ball over, they’re going to make great things happen, and if you just give them a step, a wide receiver can get behind you and run it back without being tackled. They’re just an elite team.”
The highlight of the first half was forcing two Alabama punts, but the Aggies trailed 38-0 at halftime and were outgained 391-64 with two turnovers. It was the first time this season the Aggies forced a punt after last week’s 58-7 loss at Washington State.
Alabama outgained NMSU 603-262, but the Aggies managed a seven-play, 75-yard scoring drive in the third quarter.
NMSU quarterback Josh Adkins connected with receiver Tony Nicholson for a 44-yard catch and run to the Alabama 5.
Adkins completed 19 of 30 passes for 145 yards, one touchdown and one interception. He hit Jason Huntley for the score on third down to make the score 45-7 — the first touchdown pass of the season for Adkins and Huntley’s first score of the year.
Crimson Tide receiver Jerry Jeudy tied the school record with three touchdown catches, covering 21, 23 and 19 yards. He caught eight passes for 103 yards in his second straight big game .
Ruggs also caught a 10-yard touchdown pass in a game that started under a 95-degree temperature with a triple-digit heat index.
Tagovailoa played one series into the third quarter before exiting, but not before becoming the eighth Tide quarterback with 5,000 career passing yards. He also darted up the middle for the scoring run and finished 16-of-24 passing for 227 yards. The first play, he didn’t mind giving up the passing stat.
“I didn’t expect us to score on the first play,” Tagovailoa said. “It was a little bubble throw. It just shows what kind of guys we’ve got. You can throw something as short as that and they turn it into a big play.”
The Tide backups delivered big plays as well. Mac Jones hit Jeudy for that 19-yard score and freshman tailback Keilan Robinson raced 74 yards for a touchdown.
Josh Foley, an NMSU redshirt freshman running back from Rio Rancho, saw action late in the game with the outcome already decided. He ended up leading the Aggies in rushing with 51 yards on seven attempts.
NMSU plays its first home game of the season next Saturday (6 p.m., FloSports, 99.5 FM Las Cruces, 1150 AM Albuquerque) against San Diego State (2-0). The Aztecs, who beat UCLA on Saturday, are coached by former University of New Mexico head coach Rocky Long.
NO. 2 ALABAMA 62, NEW MEXICO STATE 10
New Mexico St. 0 0 7 3—10
Alabama 21 17 24 0—62
BAMA—Ruggs 75 run (Reichard kick), 14:47; BAMA—Jeudy 21 pass from Tu.Tagovailoa (Reichard kick), 9:08; BAMA—Jeudy 23 pass from Tu.Tagovailoa (Reichard kick), :00
BAMA—Ruggs 10 pass from Tu.Tagovailoa (Reichard kick), 10:08; BAMA—Tu.Tagovailoa 25 run (Reichard kick), 3:49; BAMA—FG Reichard 48, 1:04
BAMA—N.Harris 8 run (Reichard kick), 8:20; NMSU—Huntley 4 pass from Adkins (Dy.Brown kick), 5:59; BAMA—Jeudy 19 pass from Jones (Reichard kick), 3:19; BAMA—FG Reichard 49, 1:40; BAMA—K.Robinson 74 run (Reichard kick), :13
NMS—FG Dy.Brown 43, 10:00
First downs 14 23
Rushes-yards 33-101 32-318
Passing 161 285
Comp-Att-Int 21-36-1 21-33-0
Return Yards 1 47
Punts-Avg. 8-40.62 4-40.25
Fumbles-Lost 3-2 0-0
Penalties-Yards 1-15 4-35
Time of Possession 32:03 27:57
RUSHING—New Mexico St., Foley 7-51, Dan 2-22, Gibson 10-14, Romero 2-10, Anderson 3-10, Huntley 3-6, A.Young 0-0, Adkins 6-(minus 12). Alabama, K.Robinson 5-80, Ruggs 1-75, N.Harris 12-68, B.Robinson 11-57, Tu.Tagovailoa 2-33, Ford 1-5.
PASSING—New Mexico St., Romero 2-6-0-16, Adkins 19-30-1-145. Alabama, Tu.Tagovailoa 16-24-0-227, Jones 5-9-0-58.
RECEIVING—New Mexico St., Huntley 6-25, Clark 4-26, Nicholson 2-44, Dan 2-22, Gibson 2-0, Mitchell 1-13, Abraham 1-10, Anderson 1-9, Lomax 1-7, Downs 1-5. Alabama, Jeudy 8-103, D.Smith 5-47, Ruggs 4-66, Waddle 2-52, N.Harris 1-12, Amos 1-5.
MISSED FIELD GOALS—None.
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