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LAS CRUCES – We have a win streak.
New Mexico State defeated rival UTEP 44-35 on Saturday at Aggie Memorial Stadium in the Aggies’ final home game of the season. It was NM State’s (2-9) second straight win of the season and the first over a FBS opponent since October 6, 2018 against Liberty.
Saturday was NM State’s third straight victory over the Miners (1-10), which is the Aggies longest win streak in the series since they won four straight from 1992-95.
“It felt great to go out in my last home game and get us a win and send our seniors out the right way,” said Huntley, who posted a career best rushing night for the second straight week. “Three wins against UTEP is big.”
How it happened
The fourth lead change of the second half was a 7-yard touchdown reception by quarterback Josh Adkins, who climbed the ladder for his first career touchdown reception to haul in a pass from receiver Tony Nicholson.
“It was just a really fun play,” said Adkins, who was 18 for 30 passing for 175 yards. “I tried to sell it as best as I could and Tony gave me a chance and I said, ‘I’m going to Moss this guy.’ And I did. I love basketball. I watch the Spurs every night. I was a rebounder for sure so that played into it, maybe.”
Huntley rushed for a career high 191 yards on 14 carries with three touchdowns, but he was used as a decoy on the go-ahead trick play. Huntley took a direct snap, ran to his left, flipping the ball to receiver Tony Nicholson who ran to his right and lobbed it up for Adkins in the back of the end zone with 11:57 to play. The two-point try was no good, but the Aggies led 27-22.
“We actually ran that play in 2017 against Texas State,” Aggies head coach Doug Martin said. “If a team is playing man to man coverage on the goalline, nobody has the quarterback in man coverage. Josh made a heck of a catch and Tony threw it where only he could catch it.”
A Rashie Hodge Jr. interception gave the Aggies the ball at midfield and senior kicker Dylan Brown nailed a career-best 53-yard field goal to make it 30-22 with 6:20.
“I give all the credit to (special teams coordinator) Ronnie Pentz because he talked me into that one,” Aggies head coach Doug Martin said. “I was not going to kick a field goal because of the distance and Dylan missed one earlier in the game, but he swore up and down he would make it.”
The Aggies defense added to the lead with a 19-yard Matt Young scoop and score to put NM State up 27-22 after Xander Yarberough’s strip sack with 5:30 to play.
Locksley quickly led a UTEP 75-yard drive in just over a minute to pull the Miners back to within a score, but Christian Gibson sealed the Aggies win with a 53-yard touchdown run that opened a 44-29 lead with 2:39 to play.
The Miners allowed 353 rushing yards last week against UAB and NM State finished with 259 rushing yards on Saturday.
First half was tight
Huntley rushed for 167 yards on six carries with touchdown runs of 39 and 53 yards in the first half to carry the Aggies to a 14-13 halftime lead.
Huntley’s third touchdown of the game put the Aggies up 21-16 with two minutes left in the third quarter. Adkins hit Jared Wyatt for a 32-yard corner route to the Miners 6, but Locksley finished with a career-high 348 passing yards for the Miners, moving the ball easily with run-pass option passes.
“He (Huntley) took some plays inside and popped them out with his great speed,” UTEP coach Dana Dimel said. “I think his long run was an inside zone that ended up hitting along the hash. We knew we had to stop him going in.”
UTEP finished with 557 yards of offense with 199 yards on the ground, led by Locksley’s 103 yards.
“After we got back for UAB, we thought we would have some opportunities out wide,” Locksley said. “Our receiving corps has started to come to form and we have some talented players.”
Locksley hit Jacob Cowing on a slant on fourth and three for a 23-yard touchdown on the first play of the fourth quarter to put the Miners up 22-21.
Gavin Baechle’s third field goal of the game gave the Miners a 16-14 lead with 4:01 left in the third to cap an 11-play drive as the Miners had the ball for 35 minutes on Saturday.
Huntley opened the scoring with a 39-yard run on the Aggies second possession of the first half.
The Miners scored the next 13 points, but had to settle for two short Gavin Baechle field goals after reaching inside the Aggies 15 twice. UTEP was 3 for 3 in the red zone in the first half, but only scored one touchdown on an 11-yard Treyvon Hughes touchdown run with 12:36 to play in the second quarter to tie the game at 7-7.
NM State wide receiver OJ Clark had a team high nine receptions for 72 yards
UTEP wide receiver Justin Garrett had four receptions for 101 yards and a touchdown
Michael Lewis led UTEP with 12 tackles.
NM State defensive back Jared Phipps had a team high 14 tackles as one of four players in double digit tackles.
What they said
“Both teams were playing so hard for the season that we were both playing.”
— UTEP head coach Dana Dimel
“The last two years have been frustrating. We have had to overcome hurdles with injuries and things like that. We really should have a couple more wins, but I like where the program is at. We have a group of kids who fight their tails off every Saturday.”
— New Mexico State head coach Doug Martin
“The last two home games, I wanted to make sure I went out the right way. To have two career games back-to-back is lovely.”
— New Mexico State running back Jason Huntley
The Aggies close the season at Liberty next week at noon on ESPN +. Liberty is 6-5 on the season and beat the Aggies 20-13 on Oct. 5 at Aggie Memorial Stadium.
UTEP plays host to Rice at 1 p.m. on ESPN3. Rice beat North Texas 20-14 on Saturday to improve to 2-9.