17,546 people packed into Aggie Memorial Stadium to witness history, as Doug Martin led the New Mexico State Aggies to their first victory over UTEP in nine tries. The victory gave NMSU their first sweep of the rivalry games since 2002.
The stadium was packed with the largest crowd the Aggies have had since last year’s New Mexico game.
While the crowd got to see a dominating performace by the Aggies, especially on the defensive side of the ball, the game did not begin that way.
Nerves were evident from kickoff as both teams would go three and out on their first drives. Things wouldn’t get any better as Tyler Rogers would underthrow his receiver resulting in a UTEP interception.
Fortunately, the defense would pick the team up with a deflected interception of their own. Shamad Lomax was made the play, his first of three interceptions on the day!
Then Larry Rose III said, enough of this.
Putting the team on his back, he would make a killer cut and out-run the defense on his way to a 40 yard touchdown run to put the Aggies up 7! The stud would finish with 144 yards and two touchdowns while averaging 8.5 yards per carry.
I really can’t stress enough how he put this team on his back and helped spark a high level of play among his teammates.
Linebacker Terril Hanks said it best:
“That was our main focus coming out of halftime. Keep smashing it down their throats and not letting up. Once I saw how Larry (Rose III) was playing, I said that we need to make plays. And we were feeding off of that.”
Check out some of his highlights below:
UTEP would follow with their only good drive of the game, capping off a 81 yard drive with a quarterback keeper. Outside of this drive, UTEP was dominated only converting on third down 2 out of 15 times and turning the ball over five times (all interceptions). The Aggies outgained UTEP 462-227.
The defensive line was constantly blowing up the Miner run game, allowing the linebackers to drop the rusher for a loss or small gain.
After more punts, NMSU got the ball back at their own 3 yard line and took control of the game. They drove 97 yards in 15 plays, finishing the drive off with a highlight run by LRIII again. Rose would dodge two defenders in the backfield (ducking under one) and bounce outside for a 28 yard touchdown. PAT was good, 14-7 NM State.
Shamad Lomax would pick off a Ryan Metz throw and return it to the house a few drives later to make it 21-7 Aggies at the break.
After halftime it was more of the same. Doug Martin stopped his team before heading into the locker room for a pep talk that worked wonders.
UTEP’s second half drives ended with an INT (third straight drive ending in an INT), PUNT, PUNT, PUNT, PUNT, INT, DOWNS, TD (fumble return for a touchdown).
While clearly nervous in the first half, Tyler Rogers would loosen up a bit in the second half, completing a ton of third down throws, and throwing for two touchdowns on 26 of 43 passing. He would rack up 283 yards while throwing to 11 different receivers.
He also added a rushing touchdown for the final Aggie score and the best feeling win I can remember.
All the credit has to go to Head Coach Doug Martin. He’s found some great coaches (Spaziani, especially) and players and has done a fantastic job.
Rumor has it he is FINALLY getting rewarded with a contract extension.
Enough talk. I’ll leave you all with these pictures of the team celebrating with the Silver Spade and Mayor’s Cup. It’s been eight years and the feeling can’t be any sweeter. Let’s enjoy it Aggie nation. #AggieUp
It's been 8 years... We'll take that!! pic.twitter.com/Hxp1vcCuHI— Conner Cramer (@iConn11) September 24, 2017