NMSU football stumbles, falls hard at rival New Mexico
POSTED: Saturday, October 5, 2013 - 8:26pm
UPDATED: Sunday, October 6, 2013 - 9:42pm
Las Cruces, NM — For the first time since 2007, the New Mexico State football team lost to its in-state rival, New Mexico, in Albuquerque. The Aggies dropped the 105th meeting between New Mexico’s two Division I schools, 66-17, Saturday night on Branch Field at University Stadium. NM State falls to 0-6 on the season.
NM State had defeated the Lobos the last two times the rivalry was played on UNM’s home turf (2009 and 2011). The Lobos now lead the series 68-32-5 and have picked up wins the last two seasons.
The night for the Aggies was highlighted by the running of junior running back Brandon Betancourt, who finished with a team-high 139 yards rushing on 23 carries, his first-career 100-yard rushing game as an Aggie.
Senior quarterback Andrew McDonald finished the night by completing 20 of 34 passes for 269 yards and two interceptions. McDonald also had a rushing touchdown on the night.
On the receiving end, junior Jerrel Brown caught five passes for a team-high 91 yards receiving. Fellow junior Adam Shapiro also caught five passes. He finished with 72 total yards receiving and also scored a rushing touchdown.
Junior wide receiver Austin Franklin, meanwhile, caught three passes for 28 yards. It was the 24th-consecutive game for Franklin with at least one reception.
On the defensive side, senior linebacker Trashaun Nixon and redshirt junior Clint Barnard each finished with eight total tackles to lead the Aggies. Nixon had 2 ½ tackles for loss on the night.
The Aggies had the first possession of the game but quickly punted the ball away after a three-and-out. UNM took less than three minutes to maneuver 69 yards down the field and score the first touchdown of the game, a 1-yard run by Lobo running back Kasey Carrier.
After a touchback, NM State started its second possession at its own 25-yard line. A 39-yard pass down the middle from McDonald to senior running back Germi Morrison moved the Aggies into Lobo territory for the first time in the game. With the ball at the UNM 33-yard line, however, NM State could not convert a fourth-and-8 and the ball went over on downs to the Lobos.
UNM once again drove the ball down to the Aggie side of the field, converting a fourth-and-1 along the way, and capping the drive with another short touchdown run by Carrier.
An interception by McDonald deep in Aggie territory gave the Lobos the ball at NM State’s 11-yard line. Carrier would tally his third touchdown run of the first quarter on the next play with an 11-yard run. UNM would lead 21-0 with just under five minutes left in the first quarter.
Betancourt finally jumpstarted the NM State offense during its fourth drive of the game. With the ball at the Aggie 25-yard line, Betancourt swept through the Lobo defense for a 20-yard run. McDonald added a 12-yard run of his own on a quarterback keeper and Betancourt followed with a couple of 8-yard runs.
With the ball at the Lobo 13-yard line, McDonald connected with Brown during the final play of the first quarter to give the Aggies a first-and-goal at the UNM 4-yard line. NM State capitalized on the third play of the second quarter when Shapiro scored on a misdirection handoff to give NM State its first points of the game. The Aggies trailed 21-7 early in the second quarter.
UNM struck right back, however, as the Lobos returned the ensuing kickoff 100 yards to once again extend the lead to 21 at 28-7. After an Aggie punt, the Lobos would add another touchdown to go up 35-7 with 7:43 left in the half.
With the Aggies at their own 24-yard line, McDonald hit Brown down the left sideline for a big 55-yard play that placed the ball at the Lobo 24-yard line. A 1-yard run by McDonald would cut the UNM lead to 35-14 with 4:17 left in the half.
Unfortunately for NM State, the Lobos once again answered the Aggie touchdown with a quick touchdown of their own to take a 42-14 lead heading into the locker room.
McDonald finished the first half by completing 12 of 18 passes for 149 yards, one rushing touchdown and the lone interception. Betancourt had 12 rushes in the first half for a net of 66 yards and Brown finished the first half with two catches for 64 total yards.
The Aggies forced their first three-and-out during the Lobos first possession of the second half. NM State would only have the ball for one play, however, as Betancourt fumbled at his own 15-yard line and UNM recovered at the 18. For the second time in the game an Aggie turnover gave the Lobos the ball deep in NM State territory.
The Aggie defense would hold UNM to a field goal. After a NM State three-and-out, however, the Lobos would add another touchdown to increase their lead to 52-14 with 9:08 left in the third quarter.
NM State would get three points back on a 38-yard field goal by junior kicker Maxwell Johnson, but UNM would once again answer, this time with a touchdown on the first play of the fourth quarter to take a commanding 59-17 lead.
The final quarter of the game was marked by a McDonald interception in the end zone and another Lobo touchdown to take the final score to 66-17.
The Aggies will have a couple of weeks to prepare for a home match up against Rice University as the squad will have a bye this coming week. The game versus Rice, Oct. 19, is slated for a 6 p.m. (MT) start at Aggie Memorial Stadium and will culminate "Pink Week" for NM State.