Albuquerque, N.M. • Junior running back Gerold Bright has been part of a two-pronged rushing attack for the Utah State Aggies all season. In Saturday’s 52-13 blowout victory over the North Texas Mean Green in the New Mexico Bowl, he showcased why his future is so, well, bright.

Although he’s listed at the top of the depth chart for running backs, Bright has been running closely behind fellow junior Darwin Thompson, who eclipsed 1,000 rushing yards for the season on Saturday. But against the Mean Green, Bright wound up the day’s rushing leader, running for 103 yards on 16 carries.

Bright ran in two of three rushing touchdowns for Utah State, and averaged 6.4 yards per carry, a whole 2 yards more than Thompson, who had 93 yards on 21 carries.

Bright even had the longest run of the game for the Aggies. Just before the end of the first quarter, he took off for a 26-yard touchdown to give USU a 14-7 lead. The Aggies were never threatened after that.

Aggies efficient on third downs

Utah State converted 12 of 20 (60 percent) third downs into firsts on Saturday. Coming into the game, the Aggies were doing that a 45-percent clip.

Three of those conversions resulted directly into touchdowns. On the first drive of the game, sophomore quarterback Jordan Love threw a 72-yard touchdown on third-and-7.

Love rushed for a 1-yard touchdown early in the second quarter on third-and-1, and his 67-yard pass to Jalen Greene later in that same quarter also found its way to end zone on third-and-10.

Interim head coach Frank Maile said the USU offensive line gave Love time to find the right plays to make on third downs.

“Team effort on everybody, but it always starts up front,” Maile said.

Players praise Maile

With Matt Wells resigning before the bowl game and Gary Andersen this past week to replace him, Maile was tasked with focusing on one thing: winning the bowl game. After the win, his players gushed about how Maile prepared them to do just that.

“He cares about us and this team,” Love said. “We got to get this win for him.”

Maile was asked what the future held in store for him. He said he had not thought about it because his concern has been the team.

“We’ll see what tomorrow brings when tomorrow shows up,” Maile said.

DJ Williams said he was “thankful for Maile” and reiterated that the not only was a good coach, but also a great person.

“Whatever he does, I’m happy for him,” Williams said. “I know he’s going to be great wherever he’s at.”