The New Mexico State football team played host to former Sun Belt foe Georgia Southern on Saturday at Aggie Memorial Stadium. After giving up the lead in the second quarter, the Aggies could not climb out of the hole and fell to the Eagles, 48-31.
In a game full of early lead changes, the first three drives of the contest ended in scores. After receiving the kick to open, NM State (2-6) moved meticulously down the field for a drive that only saw one third down. This series ended with a five-yard touchdown rush for Christian Gibson to put the Aggies ahead 7-0 just 3:32 into the game.
Georgia Southern (6-1) was then able to answer on its initial drive. A 33-yard rush by the Eagles quarterback followed by a run for 15-yards had the opposition sitting in the red zone. Then the NM State defense stood strong to force a fourth down before Georgia Southern knocked down a 41-yard field goal to put the lead for the Crimson & White at 7-3.
NM State was then able to orchestrate another successful series on the ensuing drive. After moving all the way down to a 1st & Goal situation, the Aggies handed the ball off to Jason Huntley who rushed in from nine yards out to put the team ahead 14-3.
Following back-to-back punts, Georgia Southern was able to get back on the board. Two plays that spanned 46 yards and just 32 seconds saw a 15-yard touchdown on the ground pull the Eagles within four, 14-10, before the opening quarter came to a close.
A second quarter that only featured three combined series for the teams, saw points continue to go up for both sides. The scoring began on the first drive that put NM State behind. Georgia Southern stuck to the ground with an eight-yard score to go ahead of the Aggies, 17-14 at the 9:33 mark.
NM State was able to answer on its next possession of the frame. On a drive that lasted 3:11, the Aggies used 11 plays to go 81 yards as Dylan Brown came in and knocked down a 23-yard field goal to knot the game up at 17 apiece.
The Eagles then got the final score on the first half after moving into the red zone with under 30 seconds remaining. GS then used a five-yard quarterback keeper to get in the end zone with just six seconds remaining. This score put the Aggies behind 24-17 at halftime.
Georgia Southern added to its lead early in the second half. The opponent’s first drive saw a 19-yard rush set the Eagles up just one-yard from the end zone. The next play saw GS run it in to put the NM State down 31-17.
The Aggies next drive ended in a fumble that was recovered by the Eagles at the NM State 33-yard line. This turnover resulted in a nine-yard touchdown rush and the hole for the Crimson & White stood at 38-17.
Another turnover on the next drive for NM State, this time an interception returned to midfield, resulted in seven more points for Georgia Southern. The Eagles moved down the field and ended the possession with a 13-yard rushing score and the Aggies trailed 45-17.
Looking to slow down the momentum and put up more points on the scoreboard, NM State used its next drive to find the back of the end zone. The Aggies moved all the way down to the red zone in the closing minutes of the third quarter. Huntley finished off the series with a one-yard touchdown run and NM State cut into the GS lead that was now 45-24.
As the fourth quarter opened, the Aggies deficit increased. Although the NM State defense was able to make a strong stance, the Eagles still brought out the special teams unit and split the uprights on a 25-ard field goal attempt to put the Crimson & White down 48-24.
Before the clock hit zero, NM State was able to get back on the board. Jason Huntley added to his multiple scores with another one-yard touchdown rush. This score brought the Aggies closer, but it was not enough and NM State fell to Georgia Southern, 48-31.
New Mexico State now looks to get back on track for its next game as the team travels to San Marcos, Texas to take on Texas State on Saturday, Oct. 27, at 5 p.m. MT inside of Bobcat Stadium.
– Caleb Mills made his first career reception as an Aggie.
– Jason Huntley’s three rushing touchdowns set a new career-high for the NM State running back.
– Ron LaForce set a new personal career-high in tackles with 21.