LAS CRUCES — With a name like Kasey Carrier, toting a football seems like an obvious choice.
The UNM junior running back carried the ball for 129 yards and a touchdown, spearheading a strong rushing attack in the Lobos’ 27-14 victory over rival New Mexico State on Saturday night at Aggie Memorial Stadium.
Averaging 6.1 yards per carry on 21 attempts against the Aggies, Carrier earned his first career 100-yard rushing game. His previous career-high total came against Wyoming in 2010 when he amassed 97 yards on the ground.
“We came in fighting from the beginning,” he said Saturday after UNM celebrated its first victory over NMSU since 2008. “It started up front with our O-line and D-line. We knew it was going to come down to those guys fighting every play for us. The O-line definitely blew open a whole bunch of holes for us.”
Carrier was only a part of UNM’s stellar rushing performance. The Lobos had a whopping 302 rushing yards. NMSU had 78 rushing yards.
Six ball carriers contributed to that tally. Jhurell Pressley added 71 yards and two touchdowns, followed by Chase Clayton with 36, B.R. Holbrook with 42, Carlos Wiggins with 20 and Lamaar Thomas with 19.
“I looked at the tape last year and they flat-out did that to us, and we were able to get that thing turned around to where we did that to them,” UNM head coach Bob Davie said. “That’s a compliment to a lot of guys, for the kids to come off of two straight losses.”
Carrier said he wasn’t surprised the Lobos were able to run the ball that well against the Aggies.
“We were expecting to come in and run the ball,” said Carrier, a native of Pearland, Texas. “We knew that was going to be a way to keep the ball for a long time of possession, come in and win the game.”
The performance is particularly sweet for Carrier given his recent history. He redshirted the 2011 season after he was sidelined with an ankle injury. He also rebounded from a hamstring injury during spring practice.
Then there’s the added benefit of the performance coming against UNM’s biggest rival in 2012, which also marks the state’s centennial.
“It feels great, especially to get it in the centennial game, a rivalry like this,” Carrier said. “It means a lot to the fans and definitely us.”
Carrier said it was also important to win this game for the seniors, who hadn’t beaten the Aggies until Saturday night.
“We wanted these guys to go out on top,” he said. “They’ve been through a lot, three head coaches. We tried to finish it off on a positive note.”
The win puts UNM at 2-2 on the season, which Carrier said could lead to bigger and better things for the Lobos.
“I believe this game right here turns a lot of things around for our season,” he said. “We’re trying to go up from here, not down.”