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Highway Robbery: UTEP Steals One From New Mexico State in Battle of I-10

The Miners played flat and uninspired for three of four quarters, and found themselves down 14 points on two separate occasions in the 4th quarter, but somehow found a way to pull out the 50-47 overtime win.

It didn't take long for the Aggies to get things going as they opened the contest with a 7 play 82 yard touchdown drive to take an early 6-0 lead just 3:20 into the ball game. The Miners would answer though, scoring three minutes later on a 40 yard run from Laquintas Dowell to take their first lead of the game at 7-6.

The trend would continue as NMSU responsed within 3 minutes for another TD strike, this time on a 10 yard Tyler Rodgers scamper to regain the lead at 13-7. The Miner defense would come up with a safety late in the first, and the Aggies would tack on a field goal in the second to take a 16-9 lead into the half.

UTEP would start a promising drive to begin the third quarter, but quarterback Mack Leftwich would take a vicious hit on a 3rd and 6 at the Aggie 30, would fumble the ball, and would be injured on the play.

NMSU would be unable to capitalize on that turnover, but on the ensuing Miner drive, a Ryan Metz pass over the middle would be intercepted and returned to the house by Jacob Nwangwa, giving the Aggies a 23-9 lead midway through the third quarter.

Darrin Laufasa would break one for 66 yards on the next Miners possession, pulling his team back to within seven, but it would take only 2 plays and 45 seconds for NMSU to push it right back to 14 at 30-16 on a Tyler Rodgers touchdown pass.

The Miners would open the fourth with a touchdown of their own, and following a three out forced by the defense, Jaquan White would return a punt 64 yards for the game tying score.

Things were just getting interesting though. About eight minutes later, the Aggies would once again own a 14 point lead, but Ryan Metz would orchestrate two straight scoring drives, including an 8 play 98 yards drive that started with 2:01 left in the ball game to tie the game at 44. NMSU would make a push to get things done in regulation, but this game would head to overtime.

UTEP would come up big on defense to start the overtime period, allowing the Aggies minus 1 yards on their first three plays, while holding them to a field goal. The offense then took care of their part, driving down inside the Aggie 10 before tight end Cedrick Lang made a sliding catch from Metz to seal the deal at 50-44.

On the night, the Miners had 27 first downs to 21 for the Aggies, but were outgained 551 to 542. Both teams were extremely balaned with the Aggies going for 285 through the air and 266 on the ground, and the Miners going for 273 and 269.

NMSU won the turnover battle 2-1, but had a number of costly penalties totaling 13 for 149 yards on the night. UTEP didn't have the cleanest night either, committing 11 penalties for 90 yards. The Miners did have a 50:38 to 24:22 time of possession advantage.

The win improves the Miners to 1-2 on the season, while New Mexico State falls to 0-3. Up next, the Miners will finally open things up at the Sun Bowl with a matchup against FCS opponent Incarnate Word. Kickoff next Saturday is slated for 6:00 p.m.

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