Las Cruces, NM (SportsNetwork.com) - Charles Ross finished with a career-high 167 rushing yards as the Rice Owls coasted to a 45-19 win over the New Mexico State Aggies in a non-conference matchup at Aggie Memorial Stadium.
Ross rushed 26 times and averaged 6.4 yards per carry for Rice (5-2) as it notched its fourth win in a row and improved to 2-2 in non-conference action. Taylor McHargue added 90 yards and three touchdowns on the ground in addition to just 89 passing yards on 8-of-14 efficiency. Dennis Parks tied his career- high with three catches en route to a team-high 51 yards.
King Davis III completed 6-of-14 pass attempts for 113 yards and a touchdown to pace NMSU (0-7), which fell to 0-7 with the setback. The Aggies and Southern Miss are tied for the longest active losing streak in the FBS, as both are on now 18 game losing slides. Austin Franklin was Davis III's top receiver with 95 yards and a touchdown on three receptions. Brandon Betancourt tallied 103 yards on 17 carries.
The Owls wasted no time putting points on the board as they marched 64 yards down the field in under two minutes for their first touchdown. McHargue capped off the drive with a 19-yard touchdown run.
Rice extended its early lead as Ross dashed nine yards across the goal line at the 8:26 mark of the first frame. NMSU got on the board as Maxwell Johnson connected on a 37-yard field goal attempt after a seven-play, 56-yard drive stalled on the fringe of the red zone.
The Aggies's defense then forced Luke Turner to fumble and recovered the loose ball at their own 33-yard line. After another three-and-out, NMSU's defense stopped Rice again. However, Darien Johnson fumbled as he tried to field a punt and Nick Elder recovered the ball to set the Owls up with a very short field. Ross gained 25 yards on two carries to set up McHargue for a three-yard touchdown run that put Rice ahead, 21-3, after 15 minutes.
NMSU narrowed the deficit early in the second period as Johnson booted a 49- yard field goal through the uprights. After the Aggies stopped Rice near midfield on third-and-long, they scored their first touchdown of the contest as Davis III connected with Franklin on an 85-yard pass play. Johnson's extra- point attempt was blocked, which left the Owls with a 21-12 lead.
Rice went into halftime on top, 28-12, after McHargue completed a 17-yard touchdown pass to Jordan Taylor with just over a minute left before the break.
Neither side managed to produce any points in the early stages of the second half. The Owls extended their lead as McHargue punched it in from a yard out to finish off a nine-play, 63-yard drive at the 3:49 mark of the third quarter. NMSU answered just before the start of the final frame as Andrew McDonald scored on a one-yard run after the Aggies drove 74 yards on 10 plays to set him up.
Rice added some insurance less than three minutes into the fourth quarter as Chris Boswell booted a 50-yard field goal through the uprights. The visitors continued to operate with success under backup quarterback Driphus Jackson, who rushed four yards for a touchdown at the 3:46 mark of the fourth quarter.
The Owls finished the game with 515 yards of total offense while NMSU produced only 328 total offensive yards. Rice also held a 27-11 edge in first downs and held possession of the ball for over 39 minutes.