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UTEP Dominates New Mexico State in Season Opening Battle of I-10

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It wasn't always the prettiest, but it was a great all around effort as the Miners dropped the Aggies 38-22 Saturday night in the Sun Bowl.

As expected, the Miners relied on a heavy dose of Aaron Jones in the season opener, as the junior tailback rushed for 249 yards and a pair of touchdowns on 31 carries en route to a 38-22 victory over NMSU.

It was slow going early on with the first three drives resulting in a total of three punts, but it would be the Miners who would get on the board first. It would take just one play on their second drive for Jones to hit the edge and race 37 yards for the opening score just about five minutes in.

The Aggies, behind senior quarterback Tyler Rogers, would get things going a bit on the ensuing possession, moving the ball 74 yards on 11 plays before stalling. They would settle for a field goal, making it a 7-3 game just past the midway point of the first quarter.

The UTEP defense would shut the Aggies down for the rest of the half, and the offense would continue to let number 29 go to work. Jay Mattox would extend the Miners' lead out to seven at 10-3 early in the second, and quarterback Zack Greenlee would take over from there.

Greenlee got his first touchdown as a Miner on the very next possession, connecting with senior wideout Cole Freytag for a 47 yard score, and would add one more with a 3 yard toss to sophomore Warren Redix just before the half making the score 24-3 as the teams headed to the locker rooms.

NMSU's Rogers would bounce back from a quiet first half, leading his team on a big 99 yard drive near the midway point of the third to get the game back to a 14 point difference at 24-10.

Greenlee and the Miners would respond though,  putting together a 75 yard drive in just 5 plays and 2:41 to quickly get back their 21 point lead. That drive would end with Greenlee's third touchdown toss of the night, this time an 11 yarder to senior tight end Hayden Plinke.

The two teams would trade touchdowns on each of their next drives, including Aaron Jones picking up his second score of the night on a 75 yard scamper on a simple draw play.

Following an Aggie punt, UTEP's sophomore running back Quadraiz Wadley, who otherwise looked to be a solid backup to spell Jones, coughed up the ball near mid-field, allowing Terrill Hanks to scoop and go 50 yards for the score. A failed conversion would keep the score at 38-22 with 12:18 left in the game.

Despite both teams moving the chains a handful of times over the last 10 minutes, neither team would be able to find any more points, and it would be the Miners who would improve to 1-0 on the season, knocking off New Mexico State 38-22 in the Battle of I-10.

Zack Greenlee led the Miners with 227 yards passing and 3 touchdowns on a 15-27 effort. He was only sacked once, and did a fairly good job of managing the ball game and not making any mistakes.

Aaron Jones was, well, Aaron Jones. He finished with 249 yards rushing and 2 touchdowns on 31 carries to go along with another 43 yards on 3 receptions. He did put the ball on the ground a couple times late, but did not lose any fumbles. Quadraiz Wadley finished with 58 yards on 10 attempts.

Cole Freytag led all receivers with 95 yards and 1 touchdown on 4 catches. Jaquan White and Kavika Johnson eached hauled in a pair of receptions for 36 and 26 yards, respectively.

The Aggies were led by Tyler Rogers who finished 17-41 for 206 yards and no touchdowns. Rogers was also NMSU's leading rusher with 63 yards on 9 carries. Jason Huntley chipped in with 53 yards on 12 carries, and Jaleel Scott led the Aggie receivers with 68 yards on 5 catches.

UTEP dominated this one on the stat sheet, finishing with 518 yards and 28 first downs, compared to 345 yards and 19 first downs for the Aggies, while also holding a 37:24 to 22:36 advantage in time of possession.

The Miners, who improve to 1-0 with the win, have now beat New Mexico State in 8 straight contests, and have won 15 of the last 19. They will now look ahead to playing Texas next Saturday in Austin. The Longhorns open up their season tomorrow against Notre Dame.

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