AUSTIN, Texas - The possibility 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.
And then 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.
Texas quarterback David 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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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. ... Texas quarterback David 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.