Aggie FB Flashback: Aggies over UTEP 49-14

The New Mexico State Aggies (2-3) scored early and often as they defeated the University of Texas-El Paso (1-5) 49-14 and regained the Rio Grande, Silver Spade and the Brass Spittoon trophies in the 80th meeting of the "Battle of I-10" Saturday night at Aggie Memorial Stadium.

Go Here for the NMSU-UTEP Photo Galley: v UTEP 02/nmsu_v_utep_10502.htm

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Before a crowd of 30,605, the fourth largest crowd in Aggie Memorial history, the Aggies tallied 475 yards of total offense, including 286 yards of the ground on 52 carries, both season highs. Eight Aggies accounted for yards on the ground. The Aggies also added 189 yards through the air.

Leading the way for the Aggies was Buck Pierce (Gasquet Calif., Del Norte HS) who completed 9-of-15 passes for 178 yards and two touchdowns and added 23 yards on the ground on three carries. Pierce got his first start since starting against the University of California, in which he injured his shoulder.

Junior Eric Higgins (Lexington, KY, Reedly JC), who entered the game as the Aggies' second leading rusher (36 carries, 173 yards), had a breakout game, rushing for 106 yards on 19 carries and one touchdown. Senior Walter Taylor (Hobbs, N.M., Hobbs HS) added 62 yards on 10 carries and three touchdowns.

Junior Chris Lumpkin (San Diego, Calif., Grossmont JC) pulled in five passes for 86 yards to lead Aggie receivers. Senior P.J. Winston (Commerce, Texas, Commerce HS) caught two passes for 79 yards and a touchdown, including a season-best 66 yard reception for a touchdown.

Defensively for the Aggies, sophomore Richard Glover (Las Cruces, N.M., Bakersfield CC) had a career night, recording 17 total tackles (11 solo, 6 assists) and had a 17-yard interception for a touchdown. Junior Tim Patrick (Phoenix, Ariz., Glendale CC) added nine tackles, including four for a loss and one-and-a-half sacks. The Aggie defense, as a whole, recorded 11 tackles for a loss, two interceptions, one fumble recovery and two sacks.

The Aggies took the lead early, scoring on their first two possessions in the first quarter. On their first possession, the Aggies scored on a two-yard pass to Marcus Dixon (San Diego, Calif., Morse HS) from Pierce. The 30-yard drive was set up by Tyrone Gifford's (Lincoln, Neb., Lincoln Southeast HS) 37-yard punt return after the Aggie defense stopped the Miners after a five-play drive.

On their next possession, Taylor scored on a 20-yard run. The Aggies possession lasted only two plays for 18 seconds. The other play was a 39-yard pass to Lumpkin from Pierce, setting up Taylor's run. The Aggies led 14-0 after running only nine plays.

The Aggie defense put its mark on the scoreboard when Glover intercepted UTEP quarterback Jon Schaper and returned the ball 17 yards for an Aggie touchdown and a 21-0 lead. Glover's touchdown was the first defensive touchdown for the Aggies on the season.

The Miners would use their last possession of the quarter to cut the lead to 21-7 on a 25-yard run by Jimmy Smith. The Miners drove 82 yards on nine plays, including a 34 yard run by Bryce Benekos on a fake punt on fourth and eight.

In the second quarter, the Aggies again scored on consecutive possessions. The first coming on a 66-yard pass by Pierce to Winston, increasing the Aggie lead to 28-7. The play was the only play of the drive and followed a three-and-out by the Miners.

On their next possession, the Aggies drove 80 yards on six plays, highlighted by a 26-yard run by Dixon and a one-yard run by Taylor, his second of the game. The Aggies would head to the locker room with a 35-7 lead. In the first half, the Aggies out-gained the Miners 328-128, including 171 yards rushing 157 yards passing. Pierce was 7-for-10 for 157 yards and two touchdowns for the half.

On their first drive of the second half, Higgins scored on a one yard run to add the Aggies' 42-7 lead. Higgins had 26 yards on six carries on the drive, which covered 65 yards on 13 plays.

The Miners would cut the lead to 42-14 on a 35-yard touchdown pass to Terrance Minor from quarterback Orlando Cruz. The drive covered 50 yards on five plays.

The Aggies scored their final touchdown on a 13-yard run by Taylor, his third of the game. The Aggie drive covered 67 yards on 10 plays and took 5:34 off the clock. The Aggies threw only one pass while trying to take time off the clock late in the quarter.

Leading the Miners offensively was Cruz, who completed 15-of-19 passes for 196 yards, one touchdown and one interception. Howard Jackson led the Miners' rushing attack, compiling 46 yards on 15 carries.

Defensively for the Miners, Tim Woodard and Robert Rodriguez compiled 11 tackles, while the Miner defense compiled 10 tackles for a loss.

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