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ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Utah State earned its third straight win in its fourth straight bowl appearance — both program highs — with a defensive 21-6 victory over UTEP in the Gildan New Mexico Bowl on Saturday.
The Aggie senior class exits Logan as the winningest class in school history, and it did it in the same way the Aggies (10-3) have won each of their 10 games all year — using defense and a cavalcade of offensive weapons, even when facing the potential use of an FBS-high sixth quarterback of the year.
Here are a few quick thoughts on the Aggies’ record-setting win.
UTEP earned the first big play of the game when quarterback Jameil Showers evaded a tackle, scrambled to his left and popped one 53 yards downfield to Ian Hamilton to put the Miners 21 yards from a score. UTEP used that big play to go ahead 3-0 on Jay Mattox’s 32-yard field goal for the Miners’ first lead in a bowl game since 2004.
Utah State countered on the next drive when quarterback Kent Myers found space on the left side and sprinted 48 yards for the end zone for the game’s first touchdown. Myers’ run was the longest run by a quarterback in the New Mexico Bowl’s nine-year history.
Damian Paine came up with a big play for UTEP’s defense, picking off Myers with 7:38 remaining in the first half.
Overall, the Utah State's third-straight bowl win was the second lowest-scoring New Mexico Bowl ever, and the lowest since Nevada and New Mexico combined for 23 points in 2007. Both teams were content to run the ball, with 86 runs to 36 pass total pass attempts. The speed of play was the second fastest in bowl history, finishing in 3:09 and one minute slower than Temple-Wyoming in 2011.
Yeah, the first half ended with a 7-3 score in favor of Utah State, but the second quarter alone saw a punt return; an interception; a handful of sacks; a 61-yard run by a wide receiver on his first snap of the game at quarterback; a 14-yard touchdown pass called back; and two missed field goals.
Myers left the game briefly in the second quarter, but returned in time for the final few snaps before halftime after taking a vicious hit on a sack. Wide receiver Ronald Butler, who has practiced as the team's backup quarterback for three weeks, replace him for part of the final series.
Nick Vigil returned to his lofty two-way play, scoring his third rushing touchdown of the season on the Aggies’ first drive of the second half. Vigil finished with 34 yards and a touchdown on eight carries and also had seven tackles and a tackle for loss in his usual linebacker role.