The renewal of the Rio Grande Rivalry went by way of the host team on Saturday. Terry Wilson Jr. threw for 382 yards and three touchdowns to lead the New Mexico Lobos past the New Mexico State Aggies by a score of 34-25.
“We’re the better football team,” said Head Coach Danny Gonzales after his team pushed its record to 2-0. “We didn’t execute enough. We made way too many mistakes. We need to eliminate those and continue to get better at that.”
The Aggies stuck around with the Lobos far longer than many had predicted, but Wilson’s third touchdown pass, a 58-yard connection with a Mannie Logan-Green put the game out of reach in the fourth quarter.
“I feel like we all put it together,” said Wilson following the game. “But at some points it felt like we were shooting ourselves in the foot. With the penalties, that’s just something we cannot do.”
The Lobos ended with 12 penalties for 102 yards. However, the Lobo defense came up with two big turnovers to keep NMSU at bay.
Certainly the Aggies kept it much closer than many, myself included, thought they were going to. With the score 24-22 late in the third quarter, it had a weird feeling that the Aggies were somehow going to stun the Lobos, but the offense did enough and the defense came through with stops to prevent that from occurring. Through two weeks, though, it would have been nice to see the Lobos thoroughly dominate one of these contests considering this was the “easy” part of their schedule.
Terry Wilson Jr. continues to look sharp, and why not? He is, after all, a former SEC quarterback. Wilson has six touchdown passes and zero interceptions through the first two games, which has helped the Lobos tremendously in the opening weeks.
The ground game finally looked good, as Bobby Cole went for 107 yards and a touchdown, while Aaron Dumas added 58 yards. The ground game will be huge in Mountain West Conference play to keep some of the defenses the Lobos will see honest.
The defense played well again. They didn’t record a sack, but did knock NMSU starting quarterback Jonah Johnson out of the game. Johnson’s replacement in Dino Maldonado ended up 13-for-34 for 192 yards with one touchdown and two interceptions. The Lobos forced Maldonado into quick throws and that came back to haunt the Aggie offense.
New Mexico is now 2-0 for the first time since 2005, when they started 3-0, but ended 6-5. The Lobos are also on a four-game winning streak dating back to last season, the longest such streak since 2016, when UNM won five in a row.
New Mexico will be on the road next week as they visit the #7 Texas A&M Aggies in College Station, Texas. Kickoff for that will be on Saturday at 11 a.m. Mountain Time.