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Updated: September 7th, 2013 11:30pm
Rodrick Williams, Gophers run down New Mexico State on the road

Rodrick Williams, Gophers run down New Mexico State on the road

by The Associated Press

LAS CRUCES, N.M. (AP) -- Minnesota had a pair of return touchdowns for the second week in a row and Rodrick Williams Jr. rushed for 148 yards and a touchdown on 16 carries to lead a 44-21 victory Saturday night at New Mexico State.

The Gophers made sure the Aggies wound not repeat their 28-21 upset form two seasons ago in the second meeting between the schools.

The Gophers (2-0) opened with a 51-23 victory at home against UNLV last week. NMSU (0-2) took a 56-7 beating at Texas last week.

Despite the final score, the outcome wasn't fully settled in the second-ever meeting between these two until midway through the fourth quarter.

Philip Nelson was 8 of 15 for 127 through the air and carried 15 times for 122 yards as the Gophers rolled up 342 yards on the ground.

Andrew McDonald was 22 of 31 for 186 to lead the Aggies.

Despite the final score, the outcome wasn't fully settled in the second-ever meeting between these two until midway through the fourth quarter.

Minnesota led 30-14 when NMSU defensive lineman Kevin Laudermill tried to knock down a third-down pass by Nelson, but ended up intercepting the ball.

That put the Aggies in business at the Minnesota 34-yard line, but they failed to capitalize on the opportunity after McDonald was stuffed for no gain on a sneak on a fourth-and-1 play from the Gophers' 11-yard line.

From there, Minnesota put the game away with a 1-yard touchdown from Nelson and a 50-yard fumble return for a score by Aaron Hill.

Both teams scored on their first possession of the second half. Minnesota got a Chris Hawthorne field goal to push the lead to 30-7, but NMSU wouldn't go away.

The Aggies answered with a 1-yard touchdown run by Germi Morrison to remain in the game at 30-14 with 3:44 left in the third. That run capped a 12-play, 72-yard drive.

Minnesota appeared to take command midway through the second quarter on a 14-yard touchdown run by David Cobb. That made it 13-0 against an Aggie team whose defense was beginning to tire. NMSU had just one first down in its first five possessions, including four three-and-outs.

However, the NMSU offense responded by getting up off the deck and rattling off a seven play, 76-yard scoring drive that cut the lead to 13-7. The payoff came on a 1-yard run by Brandon Betancourt.

But the Gophers one-upped the Aggies on the following series, putting NMSU right back on its heels with a long drive featuring power running to make it 20-7. Williams did the heavy lifting, carrying six times on the eight-play, 72-yard drive. That included a 7-yard scoring run by Williams, who fumbled on the play but recovered the ball in the end zone with 2:38 left in the first half.

NMSU was unable to move the ball on the next possession, which proved costly. Minnesota's Marcus Jones bobbled the Aggie punt, but then dashed up the middle of the field for a 65-yard touchdown to make it 27-7 at the half and put the Gophers firmly in control.

Minnesota led 3-0 at the end of the first quarter thanks to a 45-yard field goal by Hawthorne at 7:35. The kick was set up by a 25-yard run by Nelson.

The Aggie defense got a big stop on the next Minnesota series, forcing an incompletion on a third-and-goal play from the 6-yard line. Hawthorne's ensuing 22-yard field goal put the Gophers ahead 6-0. Cobb's scoring run then made it 13-0.

© The Associated Press
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