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Highlights, key plays and photos from Utah State’s 41-27 win over New Mexico

The Aggies won their first game of the year, snapping a five-game losing streak going back to last season.

New Mexico Lobos wide receiver Andrew Erickson (87) carries the ball against Utah State Aggies cornerback Cam Lampkin (6) and safety Jared Reed (36) during an NCAA football game at Maverik Stadium in Logan on Thursday, Nov. 26, 2020.
New Mexico Lobos wide receiver Andrew Erickson (87) carries the ball against Utah State Aggies cornerback Cam Lampkin (6) and safety Jared Reed (36) during an NCAA football game at Maverik Stadium in Logan on Thursday, Nov. 26, 2020.
Yukai Peng, Deseret News

Prior to Utah State’s Thanksgiving Day game against New Mexico, interim head coach Frank Maile assured anyone and everyone that would listen that the Utah State Aggies had not given up on the season, despite a dismal 0-4 start.

“The culture here is still strong,” Maile said. “The kids that are here want to battle to the end. They want to grind. They’re still hungry, as crazy as that sounds with the ups and downs of this season. But I haven’t lost any hope and neither have the kids that are still in the building.”

His faith in his team was validated as Utah State defeated New Mexico 41-27 Thursday night at Maverik Stadium.

Making the first start of his Aggie career, quarterback Andrew Peasley had a career night, throwing for 231 yards and three touchdowns, while also rushing for 118 yards and a score.

The Aggies trailed at the half, 13-6, but scored 28 unanswered points in the third quarter to blow the game open. Peasley found wide receivers Justin McGriff and Savon Scarver for touchdown receptions, as well as tight end Carson Terrell. The fourth USU score of the period came on a scoop-and-score by freshman linebacker Kina Maile — senior outside linebacker Nick Heninger stripped New Mexico quarterback Trae Hall — who also blocked a punt in the frame.

New Mexico managed to pull within a single touchdown in the fourth quarter, going on a 14-0 run of its own, but Peasley iced the game and the win with a 62-yard touchdown run with four minutes remaining.

“Proud of our guys, man,” Frank Maile said. “They continue to stay focused and hungry. They did a great job staying locked in and I couldn’t be more proud to be in charge of this team right now.”

Here are three takeaways from Utah State’s first win of the 2020 season:

Peasley can play

For much of the season, the Aggies had been searching for anything resembling consistent quarterback play. Jason Shelley had his moments — albeit few and far between — but they were never enough to make Utah State even competitive through the first four weeks.

That changed with Peasley under center Thursday. From the opening kick, Peasley looked comfortable and composed, all the while making his first career start as an Aggie.

“I wasn’t nervous or anxious, really,” he said. “I was out for COVID last week, so I had some time to think and prepare for this game and I felt really confident going into this game and I felt like my teammates believed in me.”

He validated that belief as the game progressed. After fumbling away a potential touchdown in the first half, Peasley responded with back-to-back-to-back touchdown passes in the third quarter, showing poise in the pocket. And when the pocket broke down or receivers were covered he had no qualms tucking the ball and running.

“Peasley did a great job controlling the game. He didn’t force anything and he used his legs, which is one of his many talents and I think it paid off in the end,” Frank Maile said.

Youngsters make a real impact on defense

Whether it be Kina Maile, who finished with six tackles, a blocked punt and a fumble recovery for a score, cornerbacks Dominic Tatum or Cam Lampkin — Tatum was everywhere before being being ejected for targeting — linebacker AJ Vongphachanh, or any number of additional underclassmen, the Aggies got considerable contributions from the youth of the team.

It was necessary, as senior linebacker Kevin Meitzenheimer didn’t play, and other veterans like Troy Lefeged Jr. and Cash Gilliam are no longer with the team.

It all came down to execution, according to Kina Maile.

“Everybody was more focused this week and everybody executed. The effort was always there, but we just had problems executing and today we executed and that is what got us the (win),” he said.

Special teams continue to be special

The Aggies’ special teams had been the brightest spot of the season and they continued to shine against New Mexico. Kicker Connor Coles, in his first season in a full-time kicking role, connected on both his field-goal tries. Kina Maile, as previously mentioned, blocked a punt, and with the Lobos choosing not to kick the ball to Scarver for most of the game, others stepped up in the return game, including Devonta’e Henry-Cole and Vongphachanh.

“Special teams was big time for us,” Frank Maile said.

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End of 4th quarter

Utah State 41, New Mexico 27

The Utah State Aggies will not go winless this season. Powered by quarterback Andrew Peasley, who had about as good a first career start as could be asked, Utah State defeated New Mexico 41-27. Peasley threw for 231 yards and three touchdowns and rushed for 118 yards and score, all career-highs.

4:03 4th Quarter

Utah State 41, New Mexico 27

Under considerable duress, Andrew Peasley evaded multiple tacklers and took the ball 62 yards for a touchdown.

7:08 4th Quarter

Utah State 34, New Mexico 27

The Lobos strike again, on a one-yard touchdown run by running back Bobby Cole. Cole capped off a 9-play, 87-yard drive that pulled New Mexico within a single score of Utah State.

End of 3rd Quarter

Utah State 34, New Mexico 20

A few notes from the third quarter:

  • Kina Maile had himself a quarter, both blocking a punt and scooping up a fumble and returning it for a touchdown.
  • With 28 points in the third quarter, the Aggies nearly matched their season scoring total. Heading into the game, Utah State had scored 40 points the entire season.
  • Andrew Peasley just continues to get better and better for USU. After three quarters, he’s thrown for 214 and three touchdowns, while completing 67% of his pass attempts.
  • Two Aggie receivers — Justin McGriff and Derek Wright — have 70-plus yards receiving, while three different pass catchers, McGriff, Savon Scarver and Carson Terrell, have touchdown receptions.

2:51 3rd Quarter

Utah State 34, New Mexico 20

The Lobos pull of a flawless trick play, with wide receiver Bryson Carroll finding fellow wide receiver Andre Erickson for a 28-yard touchdown.

5:17 3rd Quarter

Utah State 34, New Mexico 13

The Aggies’ offensive success has worn off on the defense. Nick Heninger forced a fumble by New Mexico quarterback Trae Hall, a loose ball that was picked up by freshman Kina Maile, who returned it 14 yards for the Aggies’ fourth touchdown of the game.

6:54 3rd Quarter

Utah State 27, New Mexico 13

The Aggies are rolling now. Peasley threw his third touchdown of the night, a 25-yard strike to senior tight end Carson Terrell. Terrell broke a tackle to turn a small gain into another score for USU.

8:52 3rd Quarter

Utah State 20, New Mexico 13

Andrew Peasley is coming into his own in this game for the Aggies. A drive after he threw for his first career touchdown pass, Peasley got another one, on a 26-yard pass to Savon Scarver.

12:20 3rd Quarter

Utah State 13, New Mexico 13

Andrew Peasley found Justin McGriff for a 36-yard touchdown reception, capping off a 6-play 51-yard drive in emphatic fashion.

End of 2nd Quarter

New Mexico 13, Utah State 6

A few notes from the second quarter:

  • Utah State appeared to be on the cusp of retaking the lead late in the quarter, but Peasley, on a diving stab at the pylon, fumbled the ball through the end zone, gifting the ball to New Mexico.
  • That play marred what otherwise was the best half by an Aggie quarterback this season. Peasley has completed 6 of 9 passes for 69 yards and rushed for 16.
  • As good as Peasley has been, New Mexico’s Trae Hall has been ever better. Hall has completed 10 of 17 passes for 66 yards and rushed for 63 yards.
  • Other than the scoreboard, things were pretty even between the teams, be it first downs (NM with 15 USU with 10), total yards (NM with 171, USU with 152) or time of possession (NM with 15:45 and USU with 14:15).

0:03 2nd Quarter

New Mexico 13, Utah State 6

Donovan Murphree nailed a 31-yard field goal, his second made kick of the game, right before the end of the half to extend the Lobos lead.

8:10 2nd Quarter

New Mexico 10, Utah State 6

Lobos running back Bobby Cole finished off an 12-play 89-yard drive that took well over five minutes, with a 1-yard rushing touchdown.

12:34 2nd Quarter

Utah State 6, New Mexico 3

The Aggies strike again, this time with a 44-yard field goal by Connor Coles. USU is moving the ball well enough, just needs to work on finishing drives.

End of 1st Quarter

Utah State 3, New Mexico 3

A few notes from the opening quarter:

  • The Aggies were all in on the running game and it paid off, to the tune of 55 total yards, at 6.1 yards per carry.
  • Quarterback Andrew Peasley, making his first career start, was a little wide-eyed early, but settled down as the quarter went on and has completed 3 of 4 passes for 24 yards and rushed for 15 yards.
  • Starting for the absent Jaylen Warren, Devontae Henry-Cole has four carries for 22 yards, while Pailate Makakona added 18 yards on two carries.
  • The Lobos ran 17 plays to the Aggies 14, but USU almost doubled New Mexico yard totals, 83-46.

0:39 1st Quarter

Utah State 3, New Mexico 3

The Lobos answered the Aggies’ scoring drive with one of their own, a 15-play, 55-yard drive finished off by a 39-yard field goal by Donovan Murphree.

6:54 1st Quarter

Utah State 3, New Mexico 0

On their first offensive series of the game, the Aggies marched 61 yards down the field in just over six minutes, utilizing the legs of quarterback Andrew Peasley and running back Devontae Henry-Cole early and often. Kicker Connor Coles capped off the drive with a 27-yard field goal.


Here are a few links to stories you may want to read prior to or during the game:

The Aggies thank active-duty service members and veterans:

Kickoff is getting closer: