New Mexico State Aggies Survive and Advance Towards Bowl Eligibility With 45-35 Win at Texas State

This looked a lot like the last few seasons of New Mexico State’s defense.

  • 76-yard touchdown for Tyler Watts on a reverse
  • 69-yard touchdown pass from Jaylin Nelson to Caleb Twyford
  • 10-yard touchdown pass from Hutch White to Gabe Schrade

Texas State had four touchdown passes from three players, and only one of them was a quarterback (though one of them used to be). Tyler Watts had a 76-yard touchdown run and eight catches for another 85 yards and a score. Elijah King caught 11 passes for 129 yards and another touchdown. The speed and misdirection confused the hell out of the Aggie secondary all afternoon.

Tyler Rogers was erratic all day long, throwing wide, high, behind, you name it. I thought I was going to have a meltdown when the Aggies got possession of the ball with a minute left in the first half and all three timeouts, then proceeded to run the ball three times for a first down.

Yet here we are, with the Aggies on the right side of a 45-35 victory and having notched a fourth win for the first time since 2011. The difference-maker was a weapon the Aggies also haven’t had since 2011 – an excellent pass rush. The Aggies recorded four sacks and produced a fumble on three of them – and another play that didn’t go down as a sack but was an interception instead. I think we can all agree that producing turnovers on 80% of your sacks is a great way to put a game away.

Granted, two fumbles of their own were a big reason this game wasn’t salted away sooner, but to their credit the Aggies stayed resilient. On a third-quarter run, Tyler Rogers’ head bounced off the turf and he had to leave the game, but Nick Jeanty stepped right in and tossed a glorious rainbow of a touchdown to Jaleel Scott that helped the NMSU offense barely miss a beat.

There’s definitely some work to do for a defense that surrendered 563 yards of offense and struggled all day with misdirection, but winning can fix a lot of ills as you head into the following week of practice. The Aggies will now head to Lafayette, LA to face off against a Ragin’ Cajuns team that has been very erratic this season and just started a new freshman quarterback in their win over South Alabama this week.

If they can win two of three between that game and their final homestand versus Idaho and USA, they’ll end what is the oldest bowl-game drought in NCAA history by a wide margin at 57 years. Coach Doug Martin has talked about how his team has been too focused on this, and a win next week to take some pressure off when they return home will be great, but let’s just enjoy this one for now, shall we?

Texas State may not win again as they host Georgia State before ending with road games at Arkansas State and Troy, but they have shown more than enough in Everett Withers’ second season that fans should be excited for 2018 no matter what the final record is.

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