AUSTIN, Texas -- The thought that a New Mexico State team that won only a single game last season could defeat Texas on its home turf in the season opener seemed preposterous.
For a moment on Saturday, however, it seemed like a bizarre possibility.
And then Texas reminded everyone why it wasn't going to happen. The Longhorns finally ascended late in the first half and claimed a 56-7 victory over the Aggies at Darrell K. Royal Memorial Stadium.
"It kind of started off slow," Texas quarterback David Ash said. "But we could feel the momentum shift when things started rolling. We're a good team when that happens."
By the end, it looked on the stat sheet like one of Texas' best season openers ever. The Longhorns set a school record for total offense with 715 yards, surpassing the previous record of 692 yards against Rice in 1998.
Ash threw two long touchdown passes to erase New Mexico State's 7-0 lead by halftime. The Longhorns ground game came alive early in the second half as Texas gained a comfortable third-quarter lead despite an extremely sluggish start.
"We worked hard on fast starts every day of camp and we didn't start fast," Texas coach Mack Brown said. "Once we got going it was full speed ahead."
Daje Johnson ran 24 yards for a touchdown and Ash added a 55-yard touchdown run and a 74-yard touchdown pass to Malcolm Brown to help the Longhorns crush New Mexico State, 21-0, in the third quarter.
Texas (1-0) abandoned its plodding, run-anchored offense in the first half for a more urgent, vertical passing attack after New Mexico State grabbed a 7-0 lead late in the second quarter.
Ash hit wide receiver John Harris on a right-side slant, which Harris took 54 yards for a touchdown to tie the game. That was the first real reason to cheer for most of the 99,623 in attendance at the season opener.
After forcing New Mexico State to go three-and-out while Texas conserved time by calling three timeouts with less than two minutes remaining in the half, Ash struck again on the Longhorns' next play.
This time, Ash threw to Johnson on a left-side slant. Johnson outran Aggie defenders for a 66-yard score.
In 70 seconds, the Longhorns went from a 7-0 deficit to a 14-7 lead they took to the break.
"We were trying to force runs," Brown said. "There wasn't anybody on the outside and we finally decided to take it."
Texas sputtered offensively from the start as New Mexico State edged the Longhorns in total yards, 77 to 74, in the first quarter. The Horns' opening drive, their best of the quarter, ended when Mike Davis fumbled at the end of a 19-yard reception to the Aggie 23.
New Mexico State answered with a drive to the Texas 24, but Jackson Jeffcoat and Cedric Reed stopped Aggie running back Brandon Betancourt on fourth-and-2 from there.
In the second quarter, New Mexico State reached inside the Texas 40, but again the Longhorns defense put up a wall. This time, Texas defensive end Reggie Wilson forced a fumble by Aggie quarterback Andrew McDonald and Quandre Diggs recovered for Texas.
However, the more Texas' offense suffered turnover problems, the more it seemed to give New Mexico State's offense confidence.
"We all talked about establishing an identity for our football team," New Mexico State coach Doug Martin said. "Defensively we wanted to be a team that could take the football away, and we took it away three times in the first half. Offensively we just wanted to compete and make plays, and I thought we competed just about as well as we could. We got beat by a better football team."
New Mexico State safety George Callender ended a Texas drive with an interception in his own end zone and, later in the second quarter, Aggie linebacker Josh Smith tipped an Ash pass that fellow linebacker Clint Barnard intercepted.
Barnard's interception finally ignited a scoring drive as New Mexico State went 64 yards in nine plays to score the game's initial points. McDonald threw an 11-yard touchdown pass to Joshua Bowen for the score, giving the Aggies a 7-0 lead with 2:28 remaining in the first half.
New Mexico State (0-1) finished with 346 yards of total offense.
"I like the way we started offensively," Martin said. "We ran the ball effectively against a really good defensive football team."
NOTES: Texas and New Mexico State's last meeting occurred 10 years ago to the day when the Longhorns obliterated the Aggies, 66-7, in Austin. ... Texas has now won 14 consecutive season openers. The last time the Longhorns lost to open the season was in 1999, when N.C. State won 23-20 in Austin. ... Doug Martin debuted as New Mexico State's head coach. Martin took over an Aggie program that went 1-11 and 0-6 in the WAC in 2012. ... Ash apparently likes running against schools from New Mexico. Ash ran for a 55-yard touchdown, his longest career run, in the second half against New Mexico State. That run topped a 49-yard touchdown run Ash scored in 2012 against New Mexico.