UTEP Defeats Rival NMSU 42-21 In Las Cruces
The UTEP Miners picked up their first victory of the season on Saturday night at Aggie Memorial Stadium in Las Cruces.
The first half was quite electric as NMSU fumbled the opening kickoff and UTEP took advantage of the Aggies' blunder when Jameill Showers threw a 3 yard touchdown pass to Kevin Perry. NMSU wasted no time as 17 seconds after the Miners' score quarterback Andrew McDonald threw an 81 yard touchdown pass to his wide receiver Jerrel Brown to tie the game at 7.
Both teams combined to score four touchdowns in the first five and a half minutes of the game. UTEP went into halftime with a 21-14 lead thanks to an 8 yard touchdown run by Aaron Jones just prior to the end of the quarter. The Aggies tied the game up in the 3rd quarter when back up QB Davis III torched the UTEP secondary by throwing a 72 yard touchdown pass to Brandon Betancourt.
NMSU was thrilled to tie up the game, little did they know it would be their last celebration of the contest. The Miners' ground game exploded in the second half as they scored three rushing touchdowns, and gained 244 yards in the final 30 minutes of the game. UTEP's 42-21 win was their third consecutive victory in Las Cruces, and the first for Sean Kugler as the Miners head coach.
Quarterback Jameill Showers had a solid performance completing 18 of 28 passes for 253 yards. Showers was utilized in a much better manner in this game as he aired it out more often. Aaron Jones rushed for 97 yards, and Jordan Leslie had seven catches for 103 yards.
UTEP proved that they can win a close, competitive game and pull away in the second half. Their defense did an exceptional job of shutting down NMSU's rushing attack, but their secondary is now a new concern. Overall, this team has an abundance of offensive talent, and with the right adjustments could have a solid defense too. Next week they host UTSA. Conference games are always important and can be extremely challenging. The Miners better bring their A game next Saturday.