Aggies Unable To Contain UNM Ground Game; Fall 66-17 In Rio Grande Rivalry

Written By: Zack Ponce

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. – Success usually stems from preparation.

Unfortunately for the New Mexico State University football team, knowing the University of New Mexico’s plan of attack didn’t equate to results.

The Lobos, who entered the 105th Rio Grande Rivalry game with the third best rushing offense in the NCAA, used the ground game to gash the Aggie’s defensive front seven for a 66-17 victory over New Mexico State on Saturday evening at Branch Field at University Stadium.

Ten total New Mexico players combined to rush for 547 total yards, and the team’s 66 points tied the all-time record for the most points allowed by New Mexico State against the Lobos. The only other time that occurred was back in 1982 when the Aggies lost in Albuquerque, 66-14.

“We’re very disappointed because we know what we’re capable of,” said NMSU linebacker Bryan Bonilla. “We knew [UNM was] going to be quick and fast but it’s always different getting a look during the week from your scout team, and then actually coming out in the game and seeing what they’re all about.”

New Mexico stunned the crimson and white clad players and fans thanks in part to senior lead running back Kasey Carrier.

Carrier utilized New Mexico’s unorthodox triple option to his benefit and scored the first three touchdowns of the game to give the Lobos an early 21-0 lead by the 4:06 mark in the first quarter. He tallied 122 of his 127 total rushing yards by halftime.

“The only way you beat a wishbone football team is to score points because they’re going to get their yards,” said New Mexico State head coach Doug Martin. “You need to keep your defense in the game by scoring and we weren’t able to do that.”

The Aggies’ offense was not able to bail out the defense and proved to dig the squad into a deeper deficit.

After a three-and-out and turnover on downs, NMSU quarterback Andrew McDonald threw a pass that was intercepted by UNM linebacker Tevin Newman deep in Aggie territory and led to Carrier’s third touchdown of the game.

New Mexico State closed the gap with New Mexico to 21-7 early in the second quarter thanks to an Adam Shapiro 4-yard run but any momentum was soon erased by UNM’s Carlos Wiggins when he returned the ensuing kickoff 100 yards for a touchdown and a 28-7 lead.

“Yeah it’s a killer,” Martin said. “Those things take the wind out of you. Especially your defense, you give up points when they’re not even on the field.”

The Lobos scored six touchdowns on their first six possessions of the first half and effectively had the game won by halftime, holding a 42-14 lead.

Despite throwing just eight passes all game, New Mexico made the most of its attempts.

Cole Gautsche, a dangerous runner, and Clayton Mitchem, UNM’s main passing threat, rotated at the quarterback spot for the Lobos with sustained success.

Gautche rushed for 127 yards and threw for an additional 48. His first pass attempt downfield came in the form of a play-action pass to a wide-open Wiggins for a 33-yard touchdown to put UNM up 52-14.

McDonald threw for 269 yards and two interceptions in the air for the Aggies. Mayfield High School graduate Brandon Betancourt rushed for 140 yards on 23 carries.

NMSU backup quarterback King Davis III was not healthy enough to play, according to Martin.

“He did practice Wednesday and Thursday but I just didn’t feel like it was fair to put him out there at this stage,” the Aggie’s coach said. “I just didn’t think that would be fair to him coming off the concussion.”

New Mexico State falls to 0-6 overall and returns home for a bye week before hosting Rice (3-2) on Saturday, Oct. 19.

“We need to re-evaluate this open week, who the playmakers are, putting them in the right situations to make plays,” Martin said. “It’s obvious the guys out there right now aren’t making anything happen.”’