NMSU Outlasts UTEP in 96th Annual Battle of I-10
Turnovers, lack of red zone efficiency and blown defensive assignments: these three things are the main factors that contributed to the Miners’ dismal loss to NMSU Saturday, 27-20.
Although they had more total yards of offense (429-311), the Miners (0-4) couldn’t come back from miscues on turnovers and fell to the Aggies. NMSU (1-4) forced three turnovers on the night—two through fumbles and one punt block and recovery for a touchdown.
The Miners were 3-of-5 in the red zone for scoring. They allowed nine sacks on quarterback Kai Locksley. And, they allowed a 53-yard go-ahead touchdown defensively late in the game.
Previously, the Miners had won 10 of 11 last meetings against NMSU at home. They fell for the first time to the Aggies in four consecutive games in front of 19,412 fans.
Turnovers for the Miners started right off the bat, as the Aggies caused a quick three-and-out to start the game and blocked the punt of the Miners, resulting in an easy scoop and score for NMSU.
“Way too many mistakes,” Dimel said. “When you get a blocked punt to start, the percentage of winning—we did surveys—is like 18 percent.”
UTEP responded on the next drive with a nine-play, 75-yard drive that ended in a Kai Locksley one-yard touchdown run. But, NMSU retaliated with a 61-yard drive of their own, wrapping up in a field goal.
The Miners responded with a field goal of their own, and then came up with a nice drive into the Aggies’ red zone on their next possession, but fumbled to turn the ball over. NMSU then crossed midfield, but fumbled the ball themselves on their next possession.
With just under a minute left in the first half, Locksley fumbled on a crucial play, which NMSU’s Malik Demby scooped up and scored on a 55-yard fumble recovery going into the half.
“The turnover at the end of the half was gigantic,” Dimel said. “We wanted to take a shot and he got hit… unusual circumstances, but it’s our responsibility to make sure it doesn’t happen.”
Although the Miners were beating out the Aggies in total offense (230-164) and time of possession (20:22-9:38), NMSU had the 17-10 lead at the half.
To start the third quarter, Locksley hooked up with receiver Terry Juniel for a 76-yard shot down the middle for a touchdown pass on UTEP’s opening drive to tie the game 17-17.
On a blown coverage by the UTEP secondary, NMSU scored on a 53-yard slant play from Josh Adkins to Royce Caldwell, lifting the Aggies’ lead to 27-20.
Locksley finished the night 10-for-16 for 194 yards and one touchdown through the air. Quadraiz Wadley led the Miners on the ground with 113 yards on 20 carries, while Locksley finished with 114 yards on the ground on 27 carries.
“Definitely hurt,” Locksley said. “If you look at the numbers, we definitely beat them. Turnovers, penalties, same old story. Something we got to clean up. Once we do, there will be better days.”
The losing streak for the Miners continues at 16 straight losses.
Next up, the Miners will take on UTSA on the road to open up C-USA play on Saturday, Sept. 29.