LAS CRUCES, N.M. (ABC4 Sports) – It was more difficult than many people expected, but Utah State got the job done in the second half to improve to 7-2 on the year.
Logan Bonner threw for 359 yards and four touchdowns, while Deven Thompkins caught nine passes for 215 yards and two touchdowns, as the Aggies overcome another double-digit deficit to beat New Mexico State in a non-conference game, 35-13.
Bonner was 23-of-32 passing with one interception, helping Utah State score 28 unanswered points – all in the second half – and finish with 457 yards of total offense. It is the 26th time in school history that the Aggies have won seven games in a season.
At 7-2 through the first nine games, it is the third-best start by the Aggies in the last 43 years, trailing only the 2012 and 2018 teams that both went 11-2.
USU improved to 4-0 on the road this season, rallying from double-digit deficits in each of those contests. It is the first time the Aggies have won their first four road games to start a season since 1973.
Bonner threw touchdown passes of 26 and 54 yards, respectively, to Thompkins, as well as a 4-yarder to Justin McGriff and a 1-yarder to Derek Wright. Bonner has thrown 21 touchdown passes on the year, the fourth-most in single-season school history.
Thompkins’ 215 yards are tied for the ninth-most in school history. It marked the fifth-straight game he has gone over the century mark in receiving yards as the native of Fort Myers, Florida, now has 2,034 yards receiving in his career – just the 11th player in USU history to accomplish that feat.
Thompkins also returned two kickoffs for 27 yards, giving him a career-high 242 all-purpose yards against New Mexico State (1-8).
Elelyon Noa led Utah State on the ground with 57 yards on 16 carries. His 4-yard touchdown run with 5:08 to go in the third quarter gave the Aggies a 28-13 lead.
NMSU’s Jonah Johnson was 30-of-44 passing for 298 yards, to go along with 10 yards rushing on 23 carries. His favorite target on the day was Cole Harrity, who caught nine passes for 83 yards. The hosts finished with 347 yards of offense.
Defensively, Utah State had season highs in tackles for loss (14.0) and sacks (7.0). Marcus Moore recorded a career-best 3.5 tackles for loss, while junior defensive end Patrick Joyner Jr. tallied a career-high 1.5 sacks.
Shaq Bond led USU with nine tackles, including one sack, to go along with a career-high-tying two pass breakups.
Despite being heavy favorites, the Aggies trailed the entire first half and found themselves down 13-7 at the break. It marked the first time Utah State had trailed since the UNLV game on Oct. 16. The Rebels grabbed a 24-21 lead with 8:18 to go in third, then led for the next 22:43 before Utah State scored with 35 seconds left.
The lone touchdown in the first half for Utah State came via the 22-yard pass from Bonner to Thompkins, cutting the deficit to 10-7 with 10:06 left until the break.
NMSU took a 7-0 lead on an 11-yard touchdown run by Juwaun Price with 4:46 to go in the first quarter, then tacked on a 45-yard field goal by Ethan Albertson less than four minutes later. Albertson also had a 35-yard field goal in the second quarter and had a 25-yarder blocked by USU grad senior outside linebacker Cash Gilliam early in the game.
Utah State has now won five of the last six against NMSU, including two in a row, and leads the overall series 32-8.
The Aggies return to Mountain West Conference play next Saturday at San Jose State at 8:30 p.m.