by Daniel Olsen | On a night where the basketball team lost by double digits for yet the second straight night, Aggie fans were able to give thanks for their football team. The USU football team had been struggling sitting at 0-4. The NFL primetime Steelers and Ravens game was moved to Sunday. The Aggies cruised to a 41-27 win over the winless New Mexico Lobos as the lone football game on Thanksgiving night.
USU and New Mexico both had an ugly start. Both teams rank near the bottom of the Mountain West in total offense and defense. It was all defense in the first quarter with the score being tied 3-3.
It seemed like it would be a field goal show all night as Utah State again was unable to find the end zone in the second quarter. They settled for three in the opening minutes of the quarter to take a modest 6-3 lead. The Lobos responded by chewing 5:38 off the clock en route to a one-yard rushing touchdown to cap off their 13 play, 89 yard drive.
This was followed by one of the most controversial calls of the night by the guys in stripes. The referees ruled that the Aggies force fumbled the ball into the end zone as their quarterback attempted to reach for the pylon. That would have been valid had the quarterback not tapped his toe out of bounds before fumbling the ball.
The Lobos capitalized off the gaffe on a 31-yard field goal to take a 13-6 lead into halftime.
The second half was all Aggies and it started with Andrew Peasley’s first touchdown as an Aggie. It came through the air as he connected with Justin McGriff for a 36-yard pass. He wasn’t done for the night. He connected on two more passing touchdowns and an impressive 62-yard rushing touchdown to seal the deal.
The Aggies were able to even out the turnover battle as they returned a fumble for a touchdown and iced the game with an interception that eventually led to the victory formation and QB kneel to seal the deal. The Aggies win their first game since they beat New Mexico last year to end the regular season.
Feasting on numbers:
• With 41 points, the Aggies were just four points shy of their season total of 45 points leading up to this game.
• With 118 rushing yards. Peasley had more yards on the ground than any Aggie quarterback had through the air in three of their first four games. Shelley did have 144 passing yards in his final game as an Aggie.
• The Aggie defense had their fewest points allowed this season by only giving up 27 points. Their previous fewest points allowed was when they gave up 34 to a different Wolfpack in Reno, Nevada.
• With 357 all-purpose yards, Peasley had the most productive game as a quarterback since Jordan Love had 418 yards. That came in a 37-35 win over Fresno State on November 9, 2019.
• The fumble scoop-and-score was the first defensive touchdown for the Aggies this season. They did record a safety to start against Nevada this season. Their last defensive touchdown was last year when David Woodward had an eight-yard touchdown return on a Colorado State fumble.
• With the win, the Aggies now claim a 14-13 all-time series lead vs the Lobos. They have also recorded two additional wins in Albuquerque in the 2014 and 2018 editions of the New Mexico Bowl.
• The Aggies are now 53-44 in the Mountain West era and 2-1 with Frank Maile as the interim head coach. Maile’s other win came at the 2018 New Mexico Bowl after previous head coach Matt Wells left for Texas Tech.
Featured photo courtesy Deseret News