Aggie Football Falls 38-35 To UNM In Rio Grande Rivalry

Written By: NM State Athletic Dept.

LAS CRUCES, N.M. - The New Mexico State football team fell to 2-2 on the season after losing the Rio Grande Rivalry 38-35 to the New Mexico Lobos, now 1-2 on the season, Saturday, Sept. 20, at Aggie Memorial Stadium in Las Cruces, N.M.

Aggie quarterback Tyler Rogers went 32-of-47 for 333 yards with two touchdowns and two interceptions. Teldrick Morgan had another big game for NM State, catching nine passes for 122 yards. Joseph Matthews added 79 yards on eight catches for the Aggies, with one touchdown. New Mexico threw for 67 yards and earned 412 yards on the ground, led by Crusoe Gongbay who had 134 yards on 15 carries. Xavier Hall led the Aggies in the ground game, recording 61 yards on 15 carries and two touchdowns.

The difference in the game came down to turnovers, with the Aggies giving up two interceptions and New Mexico losing the ball once on a fumble. Both Aggie interceptions came near the New Mexico goal line, with one at the 12-yard line and the other at the 33.

“I’m really proud of the guys and the way we battled today,” said Aggie head coach Doug Martin. “It was a hard fought game on both sides and things just didn’t end the way we would have liked. I’m very impressed and grateful to the Las Cruces community for showing up tonight. I would like to see the Aggie fans come out and continue to support this team.”

After forcing a Lobo punt on the opening drive, NM State converted three big third downs and a fourth down during its first drive. The first big third down came on a 37-yard pass play from Rogers to junior Joshua Bowen that got the Aggies out of their own end zone. Rogers also completed passes to Larry Rose III and again to Bowen for first downs.

On fourth-and-two at the Lobo 35-yard line, NM State converted on another pass to Bowen for a first down inside the 30-yard line. The Aggies would look deep at the UNM 12-yard line, but NM State could not finish the drive as Rogers threw an interception to the Lobos’ Dakota Cox.

UNM took the turnover and began marching down the field, getting as far as the Aggie 20-yard line. But after a penalty and a couple of good NM State running stops, the Lobos were forced to attempt a 40-yard field goal, which they proceeded to miss wide right.

After an Aggie punt, UNM would get the ball back and this time they would score as Lobo running back Jhurell Pressley scampered 47 yards for a touchdown to put UNM up 7-0 with under a minute left in the first quarter.

NM State would answer, however, as the Aggies went on a 9-play, 67-yard drive after they received the ball. The drive took under three minutes and was capped off after Rogers kept the ball himself and ran 18 yards for NM State’s first touchdown of the night. The game was tied up 7-7 with 13:14 left in the first half.

In a back-and-forth second quarter, the Lobos answered right back with a 10-play, 72-yard drive to put the visitors up 14-7. The Aggies actually stopped UNM on third down from the Aggie 27-yard line to force a field goal, but the Lobos faked the field goal and ran 27 yards for the score.

NM State, however, would once again have an immediate answer. The Aggies went on their own double-digit drive, a 13-play, 75-yard drive that tied the score.

The Aggies drove down to the Lobo 23-yard line and on third down UNM was called for a pass interference penalty that put the ball at the 8-yard line. A couple of plays later Rogers found NM State Matthews in the corner of the end zone to tie the score 14-14 with 4:07 left in the half.

Back came the Lobos, this time with a 13-play drive punctuated by an 18-yard touchdown pass that once again put them up by seven, this time 21-14 with just over two minutes left in the half.

It felt as the punch-for-punch game would be tied at the half as the Aggies once again drove down the field. Rogers completed a 25-yard pass to Bowen and a 17-yard pass to Morgan to move the ball inside the Lobo 35-yard line.

The drive ended, however, as Rogers threw his second pick of the game on a fourth-and-5. The half would end with NM State trailing 14-21.

Rogers ended the half with 189 yards passing with one touchdown and two interceptions. He also led all NM State rushers with 31 yards on the ground. Matthews had 49 receiving yards at the half and a touchdown on six receptions.

The Aggies received the second-half kickoff but could do nothing with the ball. A great punt, however, by NM State punter Stephen Witkowski pinned the Lobos at their own 5-yard line.

UNM proceeded to fumble the ball on the next play and Aggie linebacker Derek Ibekwe fell on the ball at the 12-yard line. NM State would gain nine yards on three plays to bring up a fourth-and-1 from the 3-yard line.

Hall would take a handoff and run three yards up the middle for a tying touchdown. The Rio Grande Rivalry was once again tied, this time at 21-21 with 11:13 left in the first quarter.

As expected in the rivalry match, the Lobos also had an answer. UNM drove down the field, mostly on running plays, and stepped inside the Aggie 10-yard line. NM State’s defense once again would hold deep in its own territory as the Lobos were forced to kick a 28-yard field goal. The Lobos led 24-21 with just under six minutes left in the third quarter.

The Aggies seemed to take the lead after running back Brandon Betancourt scampered 54 yards for a touchdown, but a block in the back penalty negated the touchdown and put the ball at the Lobo 32-yard line for only a 21-yard gain.

A few plays later the Aggies took their first lead of the game after Hall ran up the middle for a 17-yard touchdown to give NM State a 28-24 lead that they would hold through three quarters.

“I thought Xavier Hall played very well. He did what we needed him to out on the field and it will be important for him to carry that momentum into next week’s game,” Martin said.

The beginning of the fourth quarter saw back-to-back punts for the first time in the game. The Lobo punt pinned NM State deep in its own territory, and after the Aggies could do nothing with the ball and also punted, the Lobos were set around midfield.

It took UNM eight plays and just over four minutes to convert the good field position into points as they once again took the lead on a 17-yard touchdown pass. The Aggies trailed 31-28 with just under nine minutes left in the game.

With its resiliency tested, NM State once again answered the bell. During their next possession, the Aggies drove 74 yards in 14 plays, going 4-for-4 on third downs, the final conversion coming on third-and-goal when Bowen came up with a big touchdown reception in the corner of the end zone. NM State retook the lead 35-31 with 4:41 left in the contest.

With time winding down, the Lobos marched down the field for 10 plays and scored the winning touchdown on a 5-yard pass play with 27 seconds left on the clock.

The Aggies tried a last-chance hook-and-ladder but the clock ran out on the comeback attempt as NM State fell to the in-state foe 38-35. NM State takes on No. 8 LSU Sept. 27 in Baton Rouge, La. 5:30 p.m. (MT).