UTEP 38, New Mexico State 22: Aaron Jones Is Back

What a difference having a healthy star running back makes. In the 93rd edition of the Battle of I-10, the difference between an injured Larry Rose III and a healthy Aaron Jones turned the tide in UTEP beating New Mexico State 38-22.

With Rose unable to go in the season opener due to a sports hernia, the Aggies came out of the gate looking to recover his lost yards in the air. The Miners defense was having none of that in forcing an early punt. Both teams struggled in their opening series before UTEP won the field position battle, starting a drive at the NMSU 37-yard line.

In one play, the UTEP faithful found out that their star running back was healthy as he scampered 37-yards for a score. A Jay Mattox PAT gave them an early 7-0 lead.

Using a combination of Tyler Rogers’ arm and legs, the Aggies quickly responded with a drive that stalled at the UTEP one-yard line. The Aggies gave serious thought to a fourth down conversion, but instead went to the reliable Parker Davidson for an 18-yard attempt. The kick was good and the Aggies pulled within four points at 7-3.

Later in the opening stanza, UTEP went on a 14-play, 66-yard drive that took up 7:56 of game time. New Mexico State was able to come up with a goal line stand, but gave up a 23-yard Mattox field goal to extend the UTEP lead to 10-3.

Then the Miners completely took over the game.

First, quarterback Zack Greenlee found Cole Freytag for a 46-yard strike to extend the lead to 17-3 with just over seven minutes left in the half. Then, they went on a dominant 16-play drive that ended with a Warren Redix touchdown reception to give UTEP a 24-3 lead at the half.

After a series of punts to start a rather pedestrian second half, the Aggies got back on the board with a 99-yard drive. Rogers passed for 54 yards in the drive, but ended it with a four yard plunge into the endzone to pull within 14 points at 24-10.

That score ignited an offensive onslaught that included an 11-yard touchdown catch by UTEP’s Hayden Plinke,  a one-yard touchdown run by NMSU’s Jason Huntley, and a 75-yard burst to paydirt by Aaron Jones, and a 50-yards fumble return for a touchdown by Aggie DeMarcus Owens. When the dust settled once again, the Miners led 38-22.

The Aggies had one final chance to get back in the game, but fell short on a fourth-and-five at the UTEP 29-yard line. Following the defensive stand, UTEP rode the run game for a 6:36 long drive that ran out the clock and gave the Miners a 38-22 win over New Mexico State.

UTEP running back Aaron Jones finished the game with 31 carries for 249 yards and two touchdowns, while quarterback Zack Greenlee finished his UTEP debut with 229 yards on 15-17 passing and three touchdowns. The two teams combined for 863 yards of total offense and 47 first downs.

New Mexico State looks to get in the win column for the first time with a trip to rival New Mexico, while UTEP heads east to face Big XII foe Texas.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s