Utah State Captures Third Straight Bowl Victory with 21-6 Win Over UTEP
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) - After yet another injury, Utah State wound up needing its fifth-string quarterback. Fortunately for the Aggies, they had the Vigil brothers the whole way.
Nick Vigil ran for a touchdown and combined with his brother to make 16 tackles as Utah State shut down UTEP 21-6 Saturday in the Gildan New Mexico Bowl.
"Knowing that he's talented, plays on both sides of the ball," praised senior Zach Vigil, who made nine stops and was chosen the game's defensive MVP. "That's just who he is, the kid I grew up watching."
The Aggies have one of the top-ranked defenses in the nation. The Vigils, a pair of linebackers who had combined for 551 career tackles to rank first at the FBS level among active brothers, helped hold UTEP to 149 rushing yards and no touchdowns.
Utah State (10-4) won a bowl game for the third straight year. UTEP (7-6) is 0-6 in postseason play since winning the 1967 Sun Bowl.
Sophomore Nick Vigil scored on a 3-yard run for a 14-3 lead early in the third quarter.
Kent Myers threw for 68 yards and rushed for 70, including a 48-yard touchdown run for Utah State.
"We had some designed runs," Myers said. "They're a great defense so I took the opportunity and when I saw a hole I would just take it."
The freshman was the fourth quarterback used this season by the resilient Aggies, who had been hampered by injuries.
When Myers went down at the end of the first half, Wells called in Ronald Butler, a receiver and fifth-string quarterback, to close out the half. Butler then rushed for 69 yards in two carries.
"Those are the kind of things (that are) hard to coach," Aggies coach Matt Wells said. "My hat is off to our players. They earned this win."
Wells credited Zach Vigil and the team's seniors for helping the others throughout the game.
"These guys have done a tremendous job teaching," he said. "But besides teaching, they've showed it. They're all about show and their production."
UTEP's Aaron Jones ran for 88 yards, but was held to only 3.5 yards per carry because of the strong Aggies line. He came into the game ranked 23rd nationally, rushing for an average of 112 yards.
The Miners stayed close with a stingy defense, making an interception and forcing two fumbles. Yet, UTEP committed eight penalties for 75 yards.
"Several of our penalties were costly today," UTEP head coach Sean Kugler said. "We take a lot of pride in not being a highly penalized team. The score was the end result."
Neither team threw for a touchdown and combined for only 194 yards passing.
Jameill Showers passed for 126 yards for UTEP but often found himself under pressure and couldn't create a passing game to open up Jones for deeper runs.
"We shot ourselves in the foot because we didn't execute this game at all in the run game," Showers said. "They had too much penetration up front. That was pretty much the tale of the game."
Utah State is now 4-5 in bowl games. UTEP, coming off its first winning season since 2005, is 5-9 in bowl play.