New Mexico St. 24, Tulsa 7

Saturday, October 6th 2001, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

Tulsa, Okla. (AP) _ Coach Tony Samuel knew Tony Lukins was a great kickoff returner.

Lukins confirmed it on Saturday with two returns for touchdowns, tying an NCAA Division I-A record, in New Mexico State's 24-7 win over Tulsa.

The Aggies (2-4) won their second straight after three of their first four losses were to ranked teams. The early losses were tough on the returners, but New Mexico State has improved and Lukins is a major reason why.

``We always knew he was a greater returner and we've spent so much time at it, that I see it is starting to pay off,'' Samuel said.

Lukins' two scores marked the 10th time a Division I-A player returned a pair of kicks for scores in a game and the first since 1997, when Tutu Atwell of Minnesota did it against Iowa State.

Lukins credited his blockers.

``I've got to give it to those guys,'' he said.

With Tulsa up 7-0 in the first quarter, Lukins hit an outside running lane for an 89-yard scoring return. He had a 100-yard return to open the third quarter.

The runs sealed the third straight loss for Tulsa (1-3).

``That second half kickoff return for a touchdown took the wind out of our sails and I don't think we ever recovered,'' coach Keith Burns said.

K.C. Enzminger was 8-of-19 passing for New Mexico State for 124 yards and an interception. He also led Aggies rushers with 69 yards. Kenton Keith had 62.

Tulsa starter Tyler Gooch was 13-of-18 for 86 yards but was sidelined with an ankle sprain after the first half. Josh Blankenship, the starter before Gooch replaced him Saturday, finished 17-of-35 for 189 yards.

All-WAC receiver Donald Shoals had 106 yards receiving for the Hurricane.

Lukins' third quarter return gave New Mexico State a 17-7 lead.

Tyrone Gifford intercepted Blankenship's pass at the New Mexico State 43 and Keeon Johnson took it in from the 3 at 8:37 in the third to end the scoring.

Tulsa drove the field behind Gooch's passing and the running of Richardson on the game's first drive.

Brandon Birks managed a one-handed grab for an 8-yard gain to the Tulsa 1, where Richardson ran in for a score at 7:10.

Lukins scored his first touchdown and Dario Aguiniga kicked a 31-yard field goal to put the Aggies up 10-7.