LAS CRUCES, NM (KTSM) – New Mexico State scored 23-points in the fourth quarter to pull away for their third consecutive win in the Battle of I-10, 44-35 over UTEP on Saturday afternoon at Aggie Memorial Stadium.
The 97th edition of the Battle of I-10 featured seven lead changes in a back-and-forth shootout. The Miners took a one-point lead on the first play of the fourth quarter on a Kai Locksley touchdown pass to Jacob Cowing, but the Aggies responded by scoring 16 unanswered points to pull in front 37-22. NMSU sealed the win with a 53-yard touchdown run by Christian Gibson, late in the fourth quarter.
Locksley had a career game with 358 yards passing and 103 yards rushing, but his interception and fumble in the fourth quarter led to 10 critical points for the Aggies.
“All losses are hard and they’re even harder in rivalry games,” said UTEP head coach Dana Dimel. “Whenever you lose a rivalry game, it means so much to win it, so it hurts just as bad to lose it. It’s a very painful loss for us and it hurts. It digs into our players.”
Jason Huntley ran wild for NMSU in the win. Huntley totaled 191 yards on the ground and three touchdowns.
“These rivalry games are unique in that we have two rivalry games,” said NMSU head coach Doug Martin. “We have the in-state rival with New Mexico and we let that one get away. Then there’s this one and most teams don’t have two. It’s put a lot of emphasis on your season and a lot of importance on these rivalry games. Again, I loved the way our guys responded to it.”
UTEP racked up a season-high 557 yards of total offense to NMSU’s 441. The Miners held onto the football for 37:14 and picked up 27 first downs, while the Aggies’ 22:46 total time of possession led to 17 first downs.
The loss drops UTEP to 1-10 on the season. The Miners will host Rice next Saturday on Senior Day.
NMSU improves to 2-9 and will close out the 2019 season on the road at Liberty.