UTEP, NM State Renew I-10 Rivalry on Saturday

Trevor Vittatoe

Trevor Vittatoe

Sept. 14, 2009

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UTEP (0-2) and New Mexico State (1-1) will renew their I-10 rivalry on Saturday at Aggie Memorial Stadium in Las Cruces. Kickoff is slated for 6 p.m. MST. It marks the 87th meeting between the schools, the longest-running series in Miner football history. The winner of the UTEP-New Mexico State game annually receives a pair of traveling trophies, the silver spade and the brass spittoon.

UTEP is coming off a 34-7 loss to 24th-ranked Kansas last week in the Sun Bowl. NM State squared its record at 1-1, holding on for a 21-18 win over Prairie View A&M in Las Cruces after opening a 21-3 lead midway through the fourth quarter.

UTEP's English flagship radio station is KOFX 92.3 FM (Jon Teicher/Bernie Ricono) and the Spanish flagship is José 1650 AM (Omar Ropele/Mike Perez).


UTEP holds a 49-35-2 advantage in the series, but is seeking its first win over the Aggies since 2006. NM State beat the Miners in 2007 (29-24 in Las Cruces) and 2008 (34-33 in El Paso). The last three games between the rivals have been decided by a total of 12 points. Overall the Aggies own a 19-15-1 edge in games played in Las Cruces. The home team has won 10 of the last 12 games in the series.


Chase Holbrook completed 29-of-39 passes for 329 yards and five touchdowns, leading New Mexico State to its first victory over UTEP in El Paso since 1994, 34-33 on Sept. 20, 2008.

The Miners were already short-handed entering the night with their top two running backs out, and things worsened when quarterback Trevor Vittatoe left the game with an ankle injury after only three offensive series. Third-string signal-caller James Thomas II was more than capable in Vittatoe's absence, rushing 19 times for 142 yards and two scores. The Miners gained 277 yards on the ground and held a 372-366 edge in total yards.

UTEP led 10-0 at the end of the first quarter and 33-28 early in the fourth period before Holbrook hit Marcus Anderson for a 15-yard TD -- his third of the night -- with 11:21 to go for the final points. The touchdown pass completed a nine-play, 80-yard drive. The Miners committed three turnovers, including a costly lost fumble at the NMSU 20-yard line with under five minutes showing on the clock.


UTEP's Mike Price and New Mexico State's DeWayne Walker will be squaring off for the first time as head coaches on Saturday at Aggie Memorial Stadium. Price is 3-2 versus the Aggies. Price and Walker have been on opposing sidelines twice previously. Washington State and California battled during the 1996 and 1997 seasons when Price was head coach of the Cougars and Walker was defensive backs coach for the Golden Bears. Washington State won both matchups. In 2001, Price was the head coach at Washington State and Walker was defensive backs coach at USC, but the teams didn't face one another in Pac-10 play.


Trevor Vittatoe has completed 17-of-34 passes for 294 yards with one touchdown and one interception in two games versus the Aggies. He missed most of last year's matchup with an ankle injury. James Thomas II had a big night against NMSU a year ago in Vittatoe's absence, rushing 19 times for 142 yards and two TDs. He became only the third Miner quarterback since 1982 to have a 100-yard rushing game. Kris Adams has two catches for 47 yards and Jeff Moturi has seven catches for 108 yards lifetime versus the Aggies (Moturi had a 105-yard receiving night in the `07 game). Vernon Frazier established collegiate bests for carries (14) and yards (74) in 2008 against NMSU. Defensively, Anthony Morrow had a 27-yard interception in last year's matchup between the schools and Robert Soleyjacks had a 24-yard fumble recovery. Braxton Amy posted 10 tackles, a sack and a tackle for loss versus NM State two seasons ago. He had six stops against NMSU in `06.



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