An Aggie nation of 17,852 celebrated Saturday night at Aggie Memorial Stadium when Tyler Rogers and company lined up on their 45-yard line in victory formation to give New Mexico State a 32-31 victory over New Mexico.
Saturday’s win was the first over Battle of I-25 rival UNM (1-1) since 2011 and the first home win over the Lobos since 2010 when the Aggies (1-1) recovered a ball in the end zone for the 16-14 win on Oct. 9.
With 5:46 left on the clock, New Mexico began its march down the field trailing the Aggies 32-31. Austin Apodaca moved the chains 30 yards down field to New Mexico State’s 45-yard line with 2:49 remaining before an incomplete pass. Jassavia Reese and Derek Watson broke free of their defenders on second and 10 to sack Apodaca, setting up third-and-10.
UNM was 2-for-9 on third-down conversions heading into the Lobos’ final play of the game as DeMarcus Owens broke up a pass intended for Matt Quarells to seal the win for NM State in its 2016 home opener.
An interception by Terrill Hanks set up the Aggies’ eventual game-winning drive. The series took just six plays and 2:51 minutes thanks to an eight-yard dart from Rogers to Greg Hogan. The winning drive was made possible by Las Cruces native, Xavier Hall, who caught a 14-yard pass and then used a four-yard rush to give New Mexico State the first down after being assessed a 15-yard illegal block previously on the drive.
Rogers racked up his second consecutive 200-yard passing game of the season as he totaled 205 yards in the air while completing 21-of-35 attempts. Overall, the senior quarterback tallied a dozen 200-yard passing games during his career.
Royce Caldwell had two receptions for 57 yards, while Hogan hauled in four catches for 41 yards and one touchdown. Hall led the NM State running game with 11 rushes for 61 yards, none more important than the four-yard rush on third-and-three on the game-winning drive.
New Mexico’s Apodaca completed 12-of-23 attempts for 115 yards. Apodaca was sacked once and threw one interception while Tyrone Owens collected 76 yards on 16 rushes.
Teriyon Gipson capped off an eight-play, 75-yard drive with a 12-yard rush to give the visiting team an early 7-0 lead. The Aggies responded on their next drive with a field goal to cut into the lead. Rogers completed back-to-back passes to Greg Hogan and OJ Clark. He then rushed for four and nine yards, respectively, to get the first down before connecting with Hogan on an 11-yard pass to move the chains again. Davidson then kicked a career-long 45-yard field goal to cut the New Mexico lead.
The Lobos extended their lead on a 23-yard rush from Apodaca. On the ensuing drive for NM State, Rogers opened the drive with a 16-yard rush. After a 14-yard pass to Hogan, he scrambled for another 12 yards to put the Aggies on the New Mexico 35-yard line. On fourth and 10, Davidson kicked a 41-yard field goal to cut the Lobos’ advantage to 14-6.
After back-and-forth drives in the second quarter, linebacker Dalton Herrington forced and recovered a New Mexico fumble. Davidson then kicked his third field goal of the night, this time a 37-yarder. On the Lobos’ next drive, the Aggie defense stood strong and held New Mexico to a field goal to trail 17-9.
On the next NM State drive, Rogers came in clutch with a 49-yard pass completion to Royce Caldwell to put the Aggies in the red zone. A pass interference call then gave NM State first-and-goal as Rogers found Jaleel Scott in the end zone to leave the Lobos clinging to a 17-15 lead as they headed into the break.
NM State football now sets its eyes on Kentucky (0-2), who they’ll play on Saturday, Sept. 17, at 2 p.m. on the SEC+ Network at Commonwealth Stadium.