New Mexico State 20
Utah State 13
Game Day: December 31, 1960
Nationally-ranked No. 17 in the AP poll and No. 19 in the Coaches’ poll, New Mexico State (10-0) entered the game on a 14-game winning streak and fresh off of its Border Conference championship. Utah State came to El Paso with a 9-1 mark, a share of the Skyline Conference title and had been ranked as high as No. 18 nationally.
Charley Johnson, New Mexico State’s talented quarterback who would later play for the St. Louis Cardinals in the National Football League, won his second straight C.M. Hendricks Most Valuable Player honor.
Utah State took an early lead when halfback Tom Larscheid found the endzone from the 13-yard line and Clark Miller added the extra point conversion.
The Aggies responded with a 3-yard touchdown pass from Johnson to halfback Pervis Atkins.
Utah State was able to regain the lead as Dolph Camilli scored from the 11 just before the first half expired.
The second half belonged to New Mexico State as Bob Gaiters rushed 32 yards for a touchdown and Johnson secured a 7-yard touchdown pass to E.A. Sims. Atkins nailed his second point-after attempt.
The Aggies denied Utah State’s final efforts to score when Doug Mayberry was stopped on a fourth down play. New Mexico State took over and ran out the clock for a 20-13 victory.
Entering the game, Utah State led the nation in total offense. Ernie Reese had Utah State’s biggest play, a Sun Bowl record 53-yard, non-scoring punt return in the first quarter.
Johnson was introduced into the Sun Bowl Association hall of fame called the Legends of the Sun Bowl in 1994. Future College and Pro Football Hall of Famer Merlin Olsen played for Utah State. New Mexico State head coach Warren Woodson and Utah State head coach John Ralston were both inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame.
In 1960, Gaiters led the NCAA in rushing with 1,338 yards on 197 carries (6.8 yards per carry) and scored 23 touchdowns, an NMSU single-season record that still stands to this day. His 145 points led the NCAA.