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NMSU football picks up WAC victory over Idaho, 31-24
LAS CRUCES — The New Mexico State University football team defeated Idaho 31-24 for its first Western Athletic Conference win of the season.
The Aggies moved to 3-3 and 1-1 in the WAC, while Idaho slipped to 1-6 and 0-3 in a special teams extravaganza with two kickoff returns and a punt return for touchdowns.
Junior running back Kenny Turner rushed for a career-high 171 yards, his third consecutive game with 100 yards rushing, while junior wide receiver Kemonte Bateman posted two receiving touchdowns.
Quarterback Matt Christian threw for 102 yards and a touchdown while freshman quarterback Travaughn Colwell also threw from 100 yards and his first career touchdown.
For their annual Tough Enough to Wear Pink game, which raised $548, 166 this year, the Aggies moved to 3-0 under head coach DeWayne Walker.
The Aggies continued their fast start to games and scored on the opening drive for the second consecutive game. NMSU marched down the field, and Turner capped the drive with a 14-yard rushing touchdown.
On the ensuing kickoff, senior safety Donyae Coleman forced and recovered a fumble on the 27-yard line. The Aggies capitalized on the next play when Christian found Bateman on the left side of the end zone for a 20-yard score.
With the score 14-7, NMSU’s Taveon Rogers returned a kickoff 100 yards for a touchdown to give the Aggies a 21-7 advantage.
It was Rogers’ career-long return and second kickoff return for a touchdown of the year.
After an Idaho field goal to trim the Aggie lead to 21-10 with 4:04 to play in the first quarter. Neither team scored in the second quarter.
The Vandals scored first in the third quarter with a 64-punt return for a touchdown to pull within four, 21-17. On the kickoff, Rogers returned the ball to the 27-yard line.
On that return, Rogers became the school leader in career kickoff return yardage with 1,890 yards.
On the next Idaho possession, Coleman grabbed his fourth interception of the season, which leads the WAC.
The turnover spurred the Aggie offense to another score to broaden the lead to 28-17. Playing for the injured Christian, Colwell threw his first career touchdown pass to Bateman from the 1-yard line.
Idaho countered with a returned kickoff for a touchdown to stay within four, 28-24. To start the fourth quarter, junior kicker Tyler Stampler gave the Aggies a seven-point lead, 31-24, with a 20-yard field goal.
On the next possession, junior linebacker Numi Lolohea recovered his first career fumble with 13:08 minutes remaining in the game. The Aggie offense moved the ball but stalled at the 37-yard line with 8:23 to play. The NMSU’s defense held strong and stopped Idaho on fourth and goal at the one yard line with 21 seconds left on the clock.
The Aggies continue WAC play at Hawaii Saturday night.
Lobos rolled at Nevada, 49-7
The University of New Mexico Lobos dropped to 0-6 on the season, taking a pounding at the hands of the Nevada Wolfpack.
Nevada scored three times in the opening quarter Saturday night in Reno and never looked back. The Wolfpack cruised to a 49-7 victory.
The Lobos went into the game off their bye week, that following a home loss to New Mexico State University. It was the second game for them under interim head coach George Barlow.
“Again, we didn’t come out like I thought we could,” said Barlow. “We just have to find a way to get a spark at the beginning. We don’t come out of the box like I want us to and it’s hard to play catch up when you aren’t playing with a whole lot of confidence.”
Running back Lampford Mark scored three touchdowns for the Wolfpack (3-3), including the opening score of the game at the 9:21 mark of the first quarter.
The Lobos’ one score came with 6:38 left in the game and the Wolfpack up 49-0. Tarean Austin had a 17-yard score capped a nine-play, 63-yard drive in the fourth quarter.
The Wolfpack rolled up 598 yards, the fifth consecutive game the Lobos have allowed at least 538 yards. The Lobos are allowing 44.0 points per game this season.
UNM’s task doesn’t get any easier this week. It travels to take on TCU, which is on a 19-game Mountain West winning streak.
The Lobos and the Horned Frogs meet at noon Saturday.