Jackson, a transfer from Oregon, broke free on a 36-yard scoring run early in the fourth quarter, lifting Texas-El Paso to a 10-6 win over New Mexico on Saturday night in the opener for both schools.
He slashed through the left side, got clear of defenders and weaved into the end zone to put the Miners ahead 10-6 with 13:08 remaining.
"The linemen did a great job of blocking," Jackson said. "The hole was there and they sprung me. I just tried to hit it hard, then I just tried to run as fast as a could."
Jose Martinez kicked a 51-yard field goal on UTEP's first possession, and the two scores stood up after the Miners kept New Mexico's strong ground-oriented offense out of the end zone.
"That was the most exciting 10-6 game I've ever coached," Miners coach Mike Price said.
It was UTEP's lowest point production in a victory since a 6-3 win over East Tennessee State in 1975. It also ended New Mexico's streak of 15 straight wins when committing no turnovers.
And it spoiled a big night for Rodney Ferguson, who gained 128 yards rushing on 32 carries. Ferguson, last season's Mountain West rushing leader, had 82 yards rushing by halftime but couldn't find the end zone.
The Lobos took a 6-3 lead with 14:29 remaining after John Sullivan connected from 40 yards but Jackson's TD came on UTEP's ensuing possession, a drive that was aided by two New Mexico penalties.
But of course, there was also Jackson's big play.
"They blocked us really well," New Mexico coach Rocky Long said. "We blitzed and our free safety missed a tackle. When you blitz as much as we do, you're going to give up a big play now and then."
Trevor Vittatoe, UTEP's redshirt freshman, made his first college start, completing 6-of-21 attempts for 59 yards passing. Florida State transfer Lorne Sam was 2-for-4 for 22 yards with one interception.
Donovan Porterie, who produced come-from-behind victories in his first three starts for New Mexico last season, got a final chance when the Lobos took over at their own 12 with 1:40 on the clock.
New Mexico got as far as UTEP's 34 before Porterie was sacked to run out the clock.
"The biggest difference was us not being able to score a touchdown when we got into the red zone," Long said. "All we had to do was score one touchdown. Then the defense gives up one big play and that's the difference."
Porterie finished 25-of-39 for 190 yards passing.
With Ferguson carrying much of the load, New Mexico opened the second half with a 41-yard drive that ended when Sullivan's 37-yard field goal attempt bounced high off the right upright.
UTEP led 3-0 lead after the game's opening drive on Martinez's 51-yard field goal. Martinez, who kicked two 57-yarders during fall scrimmages, was wide right on a 53-yard try late in the first period.
The Lobos tied it at 3 on Sullivan's 20-yard field goal with 1:09 before halftime. It capped a 16-play, 79-yard drive that consumed nearly half of the second quarter and seemed to get Ferguson going.
He posted his fourth straight 100-yard game and fifth of his career.