LAS CRUCES, NM- What started out as a promising night for the Miners turned into a nightmare in New Mexico. The New Mexico State defense intercepted UTEP quarterbacks five times and Larry Rose scored three total touchdowns en route to a 41-14 defeat of the Miners on a warm Saturday night at Aggie Memorial Stadium, snapping an eight-year losing streak.
“Third downs and interceptions is where this game got away from us,” head coach Sean Kugler said following Saturday’s loss, “They out-competed us and outplayed us. Hats off to (NMSU) Coach (Doug) Martin. He’s done an outstanding job with this team and this program.”
After each team exchanged punts for the first three possessions, the Aggies caught their first break when cornerback Shamad Lomax intercepted a Ryan Metz pass that Larry Rose would catch on the ensuing play to put the Aggies on the board. The Miners went down the field and responded with a strong 12 play, 81 yard drive that lasted nearly seven minutes and capped off by a Metz four-yard touchdown run.
For a glimpsing moment on Saturday night, it looked like the Miners were going to turn the corner. Running back Quardraiz Wadley made his season debut and made his presence felt on that scoring drive and finished with 77 yards on 19 carries on the night. As it turns out, it would only be a brief reprieve from what the Miners have struggled with all season long.
After an Alan Luna punt pinned the Aggies at their own three-yard line, senior quarterback Tyler Rogers and former Fairfield star Larry Rose powered NMSU on a 15 play, 97 yard drive capped off by another Rose touchdown run from 28 yards. It only put the Aggies up 14-7, but that drive would be the start of a snowball going downhill on the Miners chances.
On the ensuing drive, Metz would be picked off again by Lomax, who took it 19 yards for the score to make it 21-7. Lomax, a former star at Copperas Cove, would add another interception late in the first half to give him three on the night.
“We had drives going both of those times at the end of the first half,” Kugler said, “But when you turn the ball over five times, you’re not going to win any games doing that.”
Metz would finish just 6-for-18 passing for 54 yards and three interceptions. He did not play in the second half and Kugler turned to redshirt freshman Mark Torrez to provide a spark.
Unfortunately for the Miners, things did not get much better as Torrez would throw yet another interception.
The Aggies didn’t cash in on the ensuing drive, but they did the next time after that. Tyler Rogers threw a two-yard touchdown pass to Larry Rose to give the Aggies a 27-7 lead. In his final opportunity to beat their rival, the senior Rose finished with 186 total yards and three touchdowns.
Tyler Rogers would be involved on the final two scores, an 11-yard touchdown pass to Conner Cramer and a four-yard run in the fourth quarter. The Aggie quarterback finished with 283 yards on the night. Freshman Trace Mascorro returned a fumble 26 yards for a score with 1:51 to go to give UTEP the final score of the night.
The stat line was bleak all around for the Miners: 10-for-34, 92 yards, five interceptions from the quarterbacks, 2-for-15 on third down and 3.2 yards per play. The leading receiver, as El Paso Times reporter Bret Bloomquist pointed out, was Shamad Lomax with three receptions. The problem with that: Lomax suits up for the Aggies.
Shamad Lomax has more catches (3) than any UTEP player, which is a problem because he is a New Mexico State defensive back
— Bretbloomquist (@Bretbloomquist) September 24, 2017
With the Miners now 0-4, Kugler says he to “re-evaluate everything” and when asked if this was a low point in his tenure, he replied, “Yeah, I would say that.”
The Miners will head to Army next week looking for answers at the end of a frustrating night in New Mexico.
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