Albuquerque, NM (SportsNetwork.com) - The New Mexico Bowl was bereft of big plays, but Kent Myers accounted for two of them as Utah State grinded out a 21-6 victory over UTEP on Saturday.
Myers ran for a 48-yard touchdown in the first quarter and set up a Nick Vigil TD run in the third with a 46-yard pass to JoJo Natson.
The Aggies were otherwise stagnant on offense, but so were the Miners, who converted 5-of-20 third-down tries and managed just 149 rushing yards, well below their season average of 212.
Utah State (10-4) reached double-digit wins for the second time in school history and posted its third straight postseason victory.
The Miners (7-6) were hoping to end their campaign the way they started -- with a win at University Stadium in Albuquerque. They upended New Mexico there in the season opener behind Aaron Jones' 237 yards and three TDs on the ground, but Jones was limited to 88 yards on 25 carries in the finale.
Jameill Showers completed 13-of-24 passes for 126 yards and an interception in defeat.
A quiet opening half ended with Utah State clinging to a 7-3 lead, and there were not many fireworks in the second half other than the Aggies' 7-play, 75- yard drive to start the third quarter.
Natson caught a slant over the middle and zigzagged through the defense down to the UTEP 24-yard line. Myers ran it down to the 3 with a 14-yard run on third down, and Vigil punched it in from there.
After Nick Diaz missed a 47-yard field goal with under 10 minutes to play, UTEP held the ball for nearly seven minutes thanks to a pair of fourth-down conversions.
Faced with a 4th-and-6 from the Utah State 16-yard line, the Miners opted for a field goal, and Jay Mattox booted a 34-yarder to cut the deficit to one possession with 3:02 remaining.
Rather than attempt an onside kick, UTEP opted to kick the ball deep, and Mattox shanked it out of bounds.
Joe Hill sealed the win and Utah State's 279-yard day on the ground with an 11-yard touchdown run.
Mattox kicked a 32-yard field goal with 3:10 remaining in the first quarter, but on the third play of the ensuing drive, Myers took a shotgun draw 48 yards for a score.
The freshman QB faked a screen pass, kept it himself up the middle, slipped past a defender at the 45 and outran everyone else before diving over the goal line.
Both teams made costly mistakes just before halftime.
Following a second straight Myers turnover, the Miners lined up for a chip shot field goal try, only to have the holder drop the snap.
Utah State's Ronald Butler had a touchdown run called back in the closing seconds because of an illegal formation penalty, and Diaz proceeded to hook a 28-yard field goal attempt on the final play of the half.
The Aggies won 11 games in 2012 ... Utah State was 1-6 in bowl games prior to winning three in a row ... The Miners fell to 5-9 all-time in bowl appearances, with all five of their wins coming in the Sun Bowl ... Utah State won the only other two meetings in 1960 and '61 ... Myers completed only 5- of-12 passes for 68 yards with an interception. He also lost a fumble.