Miners seek fifth-straight win over Aggies

New+Mexico+State+will+try+to+break+UTEP+four-win+strak+when+they+host+them+at+Aggie+Memorial+Stadium+in+Las+Cruces%2C+Sep.+14.

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New Mexico State will try to break UTEP four-win strak when they host them at Aggie Memorial Stadium in Las Cruces, Sep. 14.

Edwin Delgado, Sports Editor

The UTEP Miners and the New Mexico State Aggies are set for the 91st edition of the Battle of I-10.

UTEP currently holds a four-game winning streak over the Aggies. The last time both sides met in Las Cruces was in a close 16-10 win for the Miners on Sept. 13, 2011.

After starting their 2013 with losses, both the Miners and the Aggies are seeking to bounce back and claim the bragging rights for the silver spade and the brass spittoon.

“It’s a great game, a great rivalry. There is always a lot of energy from both teams and both fan bases,” said head coach Sean Kugler. “I always enjoyed it as a player and I’m really looking forward to this one as a head coach.”

The Aggies started their season on the road against the Texas Longhorns, the Aggies went ahead in the second half, but the Longhorns scored 56 unanswered points to win 56-7. One week later, the Aggies fell to the Minnesota Golden Gophers at home 44-21.

“They are very well coached, the kids play really hard,” Kugler said. “Schematically they are a little bit different from last year. They ran more of a pistol-type offense.”

NMSU’s senior quarterback, Andrew McDonald, in his first two outings completed 54 of 77 passes, for 428 yards and one touchdown. McDonald also leads the team in rushing yards with 80 in 24 carries, and despite only averaging 103 yards on the ground after the first two games, the Aggies have obtained an average of 257 yards.

All three of the Aggies’ touchdowns against the Golden Gophers were one-yard rushes, two of them by running back Germi Morrison.

On the other hand, the Miners were able to find success on offense in the season opener against New Mexico.

Freshman running back and El Paso native, Aaron Jones ran for two touchdowns including a 65-yard score in the third quarter. Nathan Jeffery also scored twice. The problem for the Miners was that they were not able to stop the run against the Lobosand gave away nearly 400 yards on the ground.

“We got to get better fundamentally; there were too many missed tackles–many at the line of scrimmage that were converted into big runs,” Kugler said. “From a defensive stand point, that will be the main focus for this week.”

Despite the heartbreaking 42-35 loss against the Lobos on Sept. 7, the Miners feel that they are moving in the right direction and are anxious to play their next game.

“We should keep executing what we do. We just need to do it better and keep a good attitude,” said quarterback Jameill Showers. “When you put your head down, that’s when losing streaks happen. So we need to have a positive attitude and we should win next week.”

Kugler and the players are looking forward to seeing many UTEP fans at Aggie Memorial Stadium in Las Cruces, when they will try to get their fifth win in a row over the Aggies–something that hasn’t been done since the early ‘90s when UTEP won six straight (1986-91).

“It always helps when you walk out in Aggie Stadium and see 10 to 15,000 fans. It makes you feel good and you feel the fans got your back,” Kugler said. “Every time we go, we either have the same amount of fans or even more and (it) makes players feel good when they see a bunch of orange, and we are hoping to see the same this week.”

Showers, who completed 15 out of 20 passes for 119 yards against the Lobos, is expected to have more pass attempts for the upcoming games.

During the game against the Lobos, sophomore defensive back Ishmael Harrison suffered a concussion and did not play the second half of the game, while Jeffery suffered a knee strain. Both players will be evaluated throughout the week to determine if they will play against the Aggies. Meanwhile, senior linebacker Horace Miller, who missed the first game, is making a quick recovery and is likely to play this weekend.

Edwin Delgado may be reached at [email protected]