LAS CRUCES, N.M. – Matt Christian and Travaughn Colwell combined to throw for 202 yards and two touchdowns as New Mexico State rolled to a 31-24 victory over Idaho on Saturday night.
Christian helped the Aggies (3-3, 1-1 WAC) take a first-quarter lead with a 20-yard scoring pass to Kemonte’ Bateman. Later in the quarter, Taveon Rogers ran a kickoff return 100 yards to give New Mexico State a 21-7 advantage.
The Vandals (1-6, 0-3) came within 28-24 after Justin Veltung ran a punt return 64 yards for a touchdown and Princeton McCarty scored on a 95-yard kickoff return. It was McCarty’s second touchdown.
Christian hit 8 of 14 passes for 102 yards. Colwell hit 7 of 9 for 100 yards.
Idaho’s Brian Reader led the game in passing, completing 22 of 35 for 167 yards. Reader was sacked on the last play of the game, and for the 10th time in the 18 games between the two schools the winner won by a touchdown or less.
“It was a battle,” Idaho coach Robb Akey said. “It was a whale of a football game. It did not have a happy ending.”
Kenny Turner ran for 171 yards and a touchdown and Tyler Stampler added a field goal for the Aggies.
Idaho’s defense came up with stop after stop, while the special teams scored three times – a punt return, a kick return and a field goal. It wasn’t enough to support an offense that gained just 281 total yards.
“The defense responded well after the beginning of the game,” Akey said.
The Vandals lost the turnover battle with three fumbles and one interception. Trey Williams came up with Idaho’s lone take-away, leading to the Vandals’ only offensive touchdown of the game back in the first quarter.
The Aggies shot out to a quick 14-0 lead 3 minutes into the game. After taking seven plays to score on their opening drive, the Aggies recovered a Veltung fumble on the ensuing kickoff and scored when Christian hit Kemonte’ Bateman for a 20-yard TD.