NMSU Football Downs UTEP 44-35 To Claim Battle Of I-10

Written By: NM State Athletic Dept.

LAS CRUCES, N.M. - Make that three consecutive wins against UTEP.

The Aggies, behind a career day from senior halfback Jason Huntley and a jaw-dropping play from redshirt sophomore quarterback Josh Adkins, rolled to a 44-35 win against the rival Miners Saturday inside Aggie Memorial Stadium.

NM State has now won three straight games in the Battle of I-10 rivalry series.

Huntley was the story of the first half. The senior, playing his final game inside Aggie Memorial Stadium, went off, rushing for 167 yards and two touchdowns on six carries across the first and second quarters.

The Arlington, Texas, native broke free for a 39-yard rushing touchdown six minutes into the first quarter to give the Aggies an early 7-0 lead. He closed out the first half with a statement, finding pay dirt on a 53-yard run to put NM State ahead, 14-13, entering halftime.

He didn't slow down in the second half. With the Aggies trailing late in the third quarter, Huntley found the end zone for the third time, finishing off a seven-play, 75-yard drive with a seven-yard touchdown plunge to put the Aggies in front, 21-16.

From there, a fourth-quarter shootout began. After UTEP scored five seconds into the final frame, the Aggies put up 16 unanswered points to open a 15-point lead with 5:30 left to play.

The Aggies' first score on their 16-0 run nearly broke the internet, as Adkins hauled in a touchdown pass from graduate transfer wideout Tony Nicholson on a play reminiscent of the "Philly Special." Adkins put his defender on a poster, outjumping the cornerback, who was called for pass interference, to reel in the seven-yard throw from Nicholson.

Senior kicker Dylan Brown followed up with a career-long 53-yard field-goal make before the NM State defense dropped the hammer on the very next drive.

Junior defensive lineman Xander Yarberough sacked UTEP's quarterback, stripping the ball loose in the process. Redshirt sophomore linebacker Matthew Young scooped it up and returned it 19 yards to the house, giving the Aggies a 37-22 lead with 5:30 remaining in the game.

After the Miners cut their deficit to eight, redshirt senior running back Christian Gibson delivered the knockout blow. On his final carry inside Aggie Memorial Stadium, Gibson broke loose for a 53-yard touchdown run to put the game away for good.

The Aggies' final game of the year is next weekend. NM State clashes with fellow independent Liberty for the second time this season at noon MT Saturday, Nov. 30, in Lynchburg, Va.