College football: USU wins Aggie showdown in N.M.

Dec 4 2011 - 12:06am

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(ROBIN ZIELINSKI/The Associated Press) Utah State quarterback Adam Kennedy (right) hands the ball off to running back Robert Turbin on Saturday in Las Cruces, N.M.
(ROBIN ZIELINSKI/The Associated Press)
(ROBIN ZIELINSKI/The Associated Press) Utah State quarterback Adam Kennedy (right) hands the ball off to running back Robert Turbin on Saturday in Las Cruces, N.M.
(ROBIN ZIELINSKI/The Associated Press)

LAS CRUCES, N.M. -- Utah State keeps the football fans in their seats until the final gun.

Adam Kennedy threw three touchdown passes, the last to Matt Austin with 35 seconds left, as Utah State defeated New Mexico State 24-21 on Saturday.

The 8-yard pass capped a 13-play, 83-yard drive. Kennedy and Austin collaborated on another scoring pass, with 1:39 left in the first half, to give Utah State (7-5, 6-2 in WAC) a 14-7 lead.

Kennedy completed 12 of 16 passes for 123 yards. He also rushed for 96 yards, part of a 395-yard effort on the ground. Michael Smith ran for 121 yards and Robert Turbin had 98. Utah State had 515 yards total offense.

"Well what do you say, another one right down to the wire again," Utah State coach Gary Andersen said. "I cannot say we played our best football today cause we did not. We found a way to make plays especially when we got into the last two drives on offense obviously. We didn't play well as a football team but it was enough to win."

New Mexico State (4-9, 2-4) took a 21-17 lead with 8:29 left in the game on a 3-yard run by Kenny Turner.

The win gives its first seven-win season since 1993, when the seventh victory was the Aggies' win in the Humanitarian Bowl.

It was also USU's fifth WAC win of the season, the Aggies' most victories in their seven years in the league.

Saturday was Utah State's fifth win in a row overall, including third-straight road win, the first three-game win streak away from home, winning the last two road games of the regular-season and the Las Vegas Bowl.

"Matt Austin made a play that won the game, again tremendous player," Andersen said. "I know we had some trouble with our footing, no question about it."

After a squib kick on the kickoff, sophomore CB Nevin Lawson intercepted NMSU QB Matt Christian's pass to seal the visiting Aggies' win. Lawson's interception was significant for two-fold, as it was not only the first interception by a defensive back this season, but it was Lawson's second game-sealing pick of his career, as he had a pick in the end zone in the waning seconds to seal Utah State's 38-34 win at San Jose State last year.

Austin ended the game with 32 yards receiving on five catches, while senior WR Stanley Morrison had four receptions for 60 yards, extending his WAC-leading receptions streak to 36-straight games.

Kyle Gallagher also had a key interception just before halftime for the Aggies.

"It's all about the young men in this program, they fought hard for this. One hell of an adventure, I'll tell you that."

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