Texas El Paso running back Howard Jackson ran for 158 yards on 15 carries, all in the first half, and returned the opening kickoff to start the second half for a score as the Miners hammered NMSU 45-0 Saturday at the Sun Bowl.
"We got outplayed," Aggie safety Matt Griebel said. "We have to play better, we have to try to figure out a way to get better fast."
The Aggies have lost two straight since beating Troy University 22-18 on Sept. 18.
"UTEP established the running game early and that made a difference," Aggie head coach Tony Samuel said. "Howard Jackson is a good back and we didn't do a good job of stopping him. Give all the credit to UTEP."
The Aggies lost linebackers Richard Glover and Jimmy Cottrell to injury, which hurt NMSU's cause. Cottrell left the game in the first half to an apparent knee or ankle injury, while Glover suffered a concussion, also in the first half.
"We need to get those guys back and healthy, they are our anchors on our defense," Samuel said. "The loss is tough, but we still have a shot in league play."
The Aggies are at home next Saturday against Louisiana It was the worst defeat by NMSU to UTEP since 1949, when the Miners won 69-7. It was the first shutout win by UTEP since 1987 when it beat NMSU 31-0 in the Sun Bowl.
The Aggies fall to 1-4 overall and 1-1 in Sun Belt play. Texas-El Paso is 2-2. Saturday's game was a designated Sun Belt game for New Mexico State.
The Aggies have now been outscored 83-3 in the past two games. New Mexico beat NMSU 38-3 last week.
The Miners beat the Aggies in every category. Texas-El Paso finished with 445 yards of total offense, while the Aggies tallied just 226 yards. New Mexico State had just nine first downs and had the ball for just 23:25.
"We just didn't execute on offense," Aggie quarterback Paul Dombrowski said. "We had a couple of nice drives, but didn't finish them."
Dombrowski started in place of Buck Pierce, who was nursing a sore right shoulder. Dombrowski went just 3-13 passing for 17 yards and ran for 49 yards. Pierce started the second half and played two series', it didn't make a difference.
Jackson's kickoff return made it 31-0 just 15 seconds in to the second half.
Pierce then threw an interception and UTEP went 48 yards in four plays, capped by an Omar Duarte 6-yard touchdown pass to Jayson Boyd to make 38-0.
"Buck had a decent day practicing Thursday, then got a little tight in the shoulder," Samuel said. "We decided on Saturday to go with Buck. He had trouble with the deep ball. He came into the game in the second half and did ok."
Duarte replaced starting quarterback Jordan Palmer in the first quarter after Palmer left with a concussion.
New Mexico State had its best chance to score late in the third quarter after third-string quarterback Joey Vincent hit receiver Tim Tolbert with a 63-yard pass to the UTEP 11. But the Aggie drive stalled and kicker Ryan Guardia missed a 29-yard field goal.
Duarte finished 10-13 for 146 yards and thre3 touchdown passes.
"We just didn't play on defense and we have to step up our effort," Aggie linebacker Simon Ocampo said. "We have to stop the run. We have to start making more plays. We have to find ways to get better. We still have a long season to go."
UTEP used a strong defensive effort and a solid running attack to grab a 24-0 lead at halftime. The Miners outgained NMSU 266-101 in the first half.
Texas-El Paso took advantage of Aggie turnover to take a 3-0 lead. New Mexico State fullback David Romaka and UTEP recovered at the NMSU's 32. The Aggies held UTEP and the Miners settled for a Reagan Schneider 47-yard field goal to lead 3-0 with 9:14 left in the first half.
The Miners added a score later in the first half as they went 54 yards on seven plays capped by a Matt Austin 1-yard score. Jackson helped set up the score with a 31-yard run.
Meanwhile the Aggie offense continued to struggle. After gaining just 124 yards of total offense last week, the Aggies struggled in the first half and were just 2 of 8 on third downs. New Mexico State didn't cross midfield until midway through the second quarter. The Aggies also turned the ball over twice.
"Things just snowballed on us once UTEP got going," Griebel said. "It's a disappointing loss. We had a good week of practice, we were ready. We just didn't execute."
The Miners scored two more times in the second half, one on a 24-yard pass from Duarte to Jonas Crafts and another on a 5-yard run by Jackson.
Jackson also had runs of 17-, 18- and 20-yards in the game' first half
. Notes: The last win by a road team in the series came in 1994 as NMSU beat UTEP 23-22...Aggie punter Steven Smith kicked a season-best 55-yarder in the first half on Saturday.
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