UTEP Drops Close Contest At New Mexico State, 29-24
Sept. 15, 2007
Chase Holbrook and Chris Williams both put up big numbers, and New Mexico State's offense came alive in the second half as the Aggies beat UTEP, 29-24, on Saturday at Aggie Memorial Stadium in Las Cruces.
Holbrook threw for 434 yards and Williams finished with 221 yards receiving as New Mexico State snapped a three-game losing streak at the hands of the Miners. It was the Aggies' first victory over UTEP in five years.
"They played better than we did. They deserved to win the game," UTEP coach Mike Price said. "They soundly beat us. It was not a fluke."
New Mexico State (2-1) was held to 166 yards of offense in the first half, but the Aggies exploded for 381 yards after the intermission. NMSU finished with 547 yards of offense behind Holbrook, who completed 36 of his 48 pass attempts.
The Miners (1-2) were whistled for nine penalties totaling 72 yards. The Aggies had three penalties for 15 yards.
"You can't lose your composure in a rivalry game like this," Price said. "I thought we lost our discipline, our focus and our composure."
The Aggies turned an interception by Miner quarterback Trevor Vittatoe - his first in three games this season - into a one-yard touchdown run by Justine Buries with 11:34 left in the first quarter. Paul Young's extra point attempt was blocked by Quintin Demps.
Demps got the Miners on the scoreboard with 3:59 remaining in the first quarter when he picked off a Holbrook pass in the end zone and ran 100 yards for a touchdown.
UTEP went ahead 14-6 on a 12-yard run by Marcus Thomas with 6:50 to go in the first half.
The Miners recovered the ensuing onside kick, but were unable to convert a fourth-and-two at the Aggie 48-yard line. New Mexico State capitalized, moving 33 yards on seven plays and trimming its deficit to 14-9 on a 37-yard field goal by Young just before halftime.
The Aggies regained the lead, 16-14, on a two-yard pass from Holbrook to Brandon Perez early in the third quarter - completing an eight-play, 80-yard drive to start the period.
UTEP grabbed a 17-16 edge on a 22-yard field goal by Jose Martinez midway through the third quarter.
Holbrook connected with Williams on a pair of long touchdown passes in the fourth quarter -- one for 82 yards and another for 59 -- sandwiched around Vittatoe's 25-yard scoring pass to Jeff Moturi.
Trailing 29-24, the Miners had two more opportunities to regain the lead, but they picked up only one first down on the two drives.
A pair of traveling trophies, the silver spade and brass spittoon, will reside in Las Cruces at least until 2008, when the two teams square off again.
"We need to put this behind us, but unfortunately it will stay with us for a year," Price said.
The Miners will host Texas Southern next Saturday (Sept. 22) at 7:05 p.m. MST.
UTEP leads the series with NMSU 49-34-2. The Aggies own a 19-15-1 advantage in games played in Las Cruces ... UTEP coach Mike Price dropped to 3-1 lifetime versus the Aggies ... the home team has won 10 of the last 11 games in the series ... Quintin Demps' 100-yard interception return in the first quarter tied the longest in school history. Demps became the fourth player in school annals to have a 100-yard interception return and the first since Michael Hicks at BYU in 1996 ... Moturi had six catches for 105 yards, the first 100-yard game of his career ... Vittatoe completed 15 of 27 passes for 261 yards. He still has only one interception in 74 pass attempts this season ... freshman punter Kyle Petersen had another solid day, averaging 45.4 yards on five attempts ... junior running back Terrell Jackson suffered an apparent ankle injury early in the game and did not return. Price said his status was unknown following the game ... three Miners posted double digit tackles -- linebackers Jeremy Jones (13) and Adam Vincent (12), and safety Braxton Amy (10).