Utah State routs New Mexico 41-27 for its first football win of the season
New Mexico wide receiver Andrew Erickson (87) is tacked by Utah State safety Jared Reed (36) and cornerback Cam Lampkin (6) during the first half of an NCAA college football game Thursday, Nov. 26, 2020, in Logan, Utah. (Eli Lucero/The Herald Journal via AP)
The Utah State Aggies, with an interim head coach and a replacement quarterback after the starter was dismissed from the squad, shook off their season-long troubles on Thanksgiving Day with a 41-27 victory over the visiting New Mexico Lobos.
It was the first victory of the season for the Aggies and the first regular-season win for coach Frank Maile, who replaced Gary Andersen in the first week of November. Maile was also an interim coach when Utah State won the 2018 New Mexico Bowl against North Texas.
“Winning feels really, really good,” said USU quarterback Andrew Peasley, who took over the signal-caller duties when starter Jason Shelley left the squad Nov. 15 for disciplinary reasons. “Tomorrow will be our Thanksgiving, you know,” Peasley added. “Kinda lay low, spend time with family and then Saturday we’ve got to come back and just keep preparing, keep getting better.”
At Maverik Stadium, Utah State (1-4) took to the field after intermission trailing by a touchdown. When the third quarter was over, the Aggies led by 21 points.
The four-touchdown explosion started with a 36-yard pass from Peasley to Justin McGriff less than three minutes into the period.
Peasley then found Savon Scarver for an 11-yard touchdown pass as USU took a 20-13 lead.
“When we came back at halftime, these guys understood what we had to do,” Maile said. “We had to finish on offense and, defensively, we had to get off the field – get three-and-outs and get the ball back to our offense.”
Utah State linebacker Nick Heninger tackles New Mexico running back Daevon Vigilant (5) during the first half of an NCAA college football game Thursday, Nov. 26, 2020, in Logan, Utah. (Eli Lucero/Herald Journal via AP)
After a blocked punt by freshman Kina Maile, Utah State turned good field position into a quick three-play drive that ended with another touchdown pass – 25 yards, this time, from Peasley to senior tight end Carson Terrell.
The onslaught was capped by a Maile 16-yard fumble recovery and run to paydirt on a play where teammate Nick Heninger knocked the ball out of the hand of New Mexico quarterback Trae Hall. That gave the Aggies a 34-13 advantage with 5:17 remaining in the third.
“I thought overall everybody played pretty well, played as a team, everybody did their job,” said Maile, a former East High standout who is also a nephew to Frank Maile.
New Mexico (0-5), however, with a touchdown late in the third and another halfway through the fourth, made the score 34-27.
But Peasley administered the coup de grâce with four minutes left. Barely escaping a sack on third and 5, Peasley reversed to the right sideline and scampered 62 yards for a touchdown to reestablish the two possession margin.
“I know he’s a playmaker and it’s good to see him get his first start,” Kina Maile said. “He dusted those guys. It was crazy.”
The Lobos had assumed a 10-6 lead midway through the second quarter on a 1-yard run by running back Bobby Cole. It capped off an 89-yard drive – the longest of the season for UNM – which included first-down throws from Hall to Andrew Erickson and Marcus Williams.
It appeared that the Aggies may have bounced back to regain the lead a couple of minutes before intermission when Peasley stretched to the end zone for a touchdown. But he was ruled to have lost possession of the ball as it hit the pylon and New Mexico got the ball back. The Lobos then used the remainder of the second quarter to drive and set up a 31-yard field goal by Donovan Murphree for a 13-6 advantage.
The game was the only college football contest played on Thanksgiving Day. Another scheduled game, between Colorado State and Air Force, was canceled due to COVID-19 concerns.
The Aggies are scheduled to play on Thursday next week as well, at home against Air Force.
“It’s hard to win football games, man. Anytime you can do it with all three phases – offense, defense and special teams – it’s a great feeling,” Frank Maile said.
UTAH STATE 41, NEW MEXICO 27
• Utah State scores 28 points in the third quarter to reverse momentum after trailing by seven at half.
• Sophomore quarterback Andrew Peasley, making his first start, throws for 239 yards and three touchdowns as the Aggies grab their first win.
• Peasley is also the Aggies’ leading rusher in the game with 118 yards.