Bad weather gave way to a tough night for the Aggies on the gridiron last night. UTEP dominated the scoreboard in their 38-12 victory and snapped the Aggies' two game win streak in the series. Yesterday we talked about the keys to the game for the Aggies. Unfortunately it was UTEP who managed to hit all those keys. They got on the scoreboard first, they converted red zone chances when they had them (six of six, five touchdowns and a field goal), their passing game balanced out their running game (182 yards passing, 152 yards running).
Statistically the two teams were almost even. UTEP outgained the Aggies by only 54 yards and the average gain by UTEP was five yards while the average gain by the Aggies was 4.5 yards. The difference in this game was simply turnovers. The Aggies had four turnovers that directly resulted in 28 UTEP points. Now you're probably thinking, "Hey, I only remember three turnovers." Technically you are correct. The Aggies threw two interceptions (both by starting QB Jeff Fleming) and had one fumble (by backup QB Trevor Walls), each resulting in a Miner touchdown. However, the spectacular interception by Davon House on the Aggie goal line toward the end of the third quarter would have given the Aggies the ball back down 24-0. Instead, the pick was nullified by a somewhat questionable roughing the passer penalty (we can see it both ways). On the very next play the Miners ran the ball in for a touchdown and took a 31-0 lead. We would definitely count that as a turnover.
On a side note, House's interception return would have most assuredly been challenged by the UTEP staff as it looked like on the replay that he stepped out of bounds around the 4-yard line.
Overall our assessment of the game is this: The Aggie defense played well enough for the Aggies to win the game. However, the Aggie offense let them down. The Aggies had two long drives stall, one because of a costly holding penalty and the other ending with a missed field goal. The Aggies had another drive stall on the UTEP 27 where they turned the ball over on downs. Somewhat surprisingly the Aggies punted just once and it was a dandy pinning the Miners on their own eight yard line. Unfortunately the Miners drove their way across the field and ended up with a touchdown.
There was certainly improvement from the Aggie offense, they moved the ball well between the 20s but could not convert key third down situations. They finished the night just 4 of 14 on third downs. UTEP on the other hand finished the night 9 of 14.
Overall the Aggies might have won the game had it not been for their own mistakes. Turnovers and penalties were the downfall for the Aggies. The Aggies finished with eight penalties for 70 yards, the three biggest penalties were a holding call on offense that negated a first down inside the 15, a somewhat questionable (and very late) pass interference call on the Aggies in the end zone which gave the Miners a first and goal at the 2-yard line and finally the roughing the passer penalty that negated an interception by Davon House.
The Aggies must regroup as they have a short turnaround for their next game which is their rivalry battle against New Mexico. UNM was dominated by Air Force in a 37-13 blowout at University Stadium in Albuquerque. Ironically, the Lobos have a Holbrook playing quarterback and coincidentally he also wears No. 12. Next week's rivalry battle will kick off at 8:00 p.m. MT and will be televised on the Mtn. network.
On to today's links...
The NM State athletic website recaps last night's loss.
The UTEP athletic website recaps last night's rivalry game.
Bret Bloomquist of the El Paso Times recaps the Aggie loss to UTEP.
Bret Bloomquist shares his notebook from last night's game.
The El Paso Times shares photos from last night's game.
Teddy Feinberg of the Las Cruces Sun-News recaps last night's weather delayed loss.
The Sports Network recaps last night's loss.
Aggie Cross Country
The NM State athletic website recaps the Kachina Classic.
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