Albuquerque, N.M. • LaJuan Hunt ran for 117 yards and two touchdowns and the Utah State defense forced four turnovers Saturday to beat New Mexico 24-10.
In a sloppy game on both sides, the Aggies (5-5, 3-3 Mountain West) did just enough to thwart a Lobos (3-6, 1-5) squad that has been impotent offensively. New Mexico didn’t score a touchdown until 3:20 in the fourth quarter, giving it a streak of almost nine quarters without a TD.
The Aggies turned four turnovers into 14 points, including David Woodward’s 70-yard fumble return for a touchdown in the fourth quarter.
“Somewhere along the way here, we’ve turned into a hard-luck, mistake team,” New Mexico coach Bob Davie said. “It’s impossible to win when you are that, when you are who we are, particularly. It’s frustrating.”
The Lobos forced two turnovers, resulting in a second-quarter field goal.
New Mexico’s first turnover came on the game’s first possession, when Stanley Barnwell Jr. intercepted Jordan Love. But the Lobos handed the ball right back six plays later when Justus Te’i stripped Lamar Jordan at the 10 yard line.
That’s just momentum,” Hunt said of that turnaround. “That just gives us energy and juice. After we see that, we’re juiced up. We’re just that much more fired up to make something happen.”
Early in the second quarter, New Mexico again lost a fumble in the red zone, with Te’I causing and recovering it.
“I give all the credit to our players,” said Aggies coach Matt Wells. “Horrible field position for the defense. We really got put in a lot of bad positions early in the game and they rose up late in drives. To have two turnovers inside the 10; just ball searching and go after balls.”
New Mexico has committed 11 turnovers in its last two games. “It’s a dilemma,” Davie said. “It’s something you keep working through and you try to stay positive, but it sucks the energy out of everybody. It does and it gives you no chance to win when you’ve had the epidemic of it we’ve had.”
Utah State: The win is a boost for Utah State’s bowl eligibility, with two winnable games on tap.
New Mexico: The loss sinks New Mexico deeper into the cellar of the Mountain West’s Mountain Division and renders hopes of a third consecutive bowl almost nil as the Lobos would have to win its final three games.
Utah State: After a bye week, Utah State takes on Hawaii at home Nov. 18. The Aggies own an 8-6 record over the Warriors and have won three consecutive games in the series, but the teams have not met since 2014.
New Mexico: New Mexico travels to Texas A&M for a non-conference game Nov. 11. The Aggies have a 3-0 series advantage winning the last meeting Aggies 41-6 in 2009.