ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. – Redshirt sophomore quarterback Josh Adkins threw for three touchdowns and rushed for a career-high three scores, but NM State (0-4) could not topple in-state rival New Mexico (2-1), suffering a 55-52 loss inside Dreamstyle Stadium Saturday.
The Battle of I-25 turned into a back-and-forth slugfest between two high-octane offenses. The shootout between the Aggies and Lobos resulted in 107 total points, the second-largest scoring output in a meeting between the two teams since combining for 110 points in 1917.
It’s also the third-largest combined scoring total in Aggie history, sitting behind only 116 total points vs. 2nd Calvary-Ft. Bliss (1912) and the aforementioned 110 total points vs. New Mexico.
Adkins, senior halfback Jason Huntley and graduate transfer wideout Tony Nicholson each turned in career days to ignite the NM State offense all game long.
After an interception, which was returned for a touchdown, on their opening possession, the Aggies stormed back with a nine-play, 75-yard scoring drive. Adkins punched it in from three yards out for the score – his first of three rushing touchdowns on the day.
Their very next offensive possession, the Aggies moved down the field with ease once again, gashing the Lobos through the air and on the ground. Huntley capped the 12-play drive with a two-yard touchdown run to put NM State up, 14-7.
No lead was safe in this game, however. New Mexico tied the game at 14 before senior placekicker Dylan Brown’s 33-yard field goal gave the Aggies a three-point cushion at the end of the first quarter.
The Aggies and Lobos continued to exchange blows before halftime. New Mexico again tied the game before Adkins scrambled one yard for his second rushing touchdown of the contest.
Ahead 24-17 with nine minutes to go in the second quarter, NM State briefly hit a wall. The Lobos wasted no time capitalizing, scoring 14 unanswered points after forcing the Aggies to punt on back-to-back possessions.
New Mexico opened a seven-point lead with a minute remaining in the half, but that advantage disappeared before the teams went to the locker rooms.
Adkins orchestrated a five-play, 75-yard touchdown drive, linking up with Nicholson in the end zone to tie the game at 31 apiece entering halftime. Nicholson’s 11-yard scoring grab, which was the first of his career, was also his first of two in the contest.
The back-and-forth shootout continued in the second half.
New Mexico reopened a three-point lead via a field goal before Adkins and Nicholson connected for the second time. Adkins hit Nicholson on a screen pass, and the Baylor transfer plunged three yards into the end zone to give the Aggies a 38-34 lead midway through the third quarter.
The Lobos would not back down, though. New Mexico went on to score 21 unanswered points, opening a 55-38 with 10:36 left to play in the contest.
NM State ended the drought midway through the fourth quarter when Adkins tossed his third touchdown, hitting Huntley with a four-yard pass. Adkins led the Aggies down the field two minutes later after senior defensive back Austin Perkins intercepted a pass for the second game in a row.
Adkins preceded to pick up his third rushing score of the game and shrink the Aggie deficit to three points with 5:22 remaining.
It was too little too late, however. New Mexico’s last drive put the game on ice, as the Lobos worked down the clock until the final horn.
Adkins accounted for six total touchdowns in the contest, completing 30-of-47 passes for 335 yards and three touchdowns in addition to rushing for three scores. He’s the first Aggie to run for three touchdowns in a game since halfback Christian Gibson did so against Louisiana (10/13/18).
Huntley popped off for a career-high 114 rushing yards on 12 carries. He found pay dirt once via the ground and once through the air, catching three passes for 14 yards.
Nicholson, meanwhile, matched his career high with seven receptions, gaining 61 yards through the air and two touchdowns. The receiving scores are the first and second of his career.
The Aggies are home for their next two contests. The homestand begins against Fresno State at 6 p.m. (MT) Saturday, Sept. 28, inside Aggie Memorial Stadium.