LAS CRUCES, NM (KTSM) – Finish strong.
The Aggies will look to conclude their 2019 campaign on a three-game winning streak when they clash with fellow FBS independent Liberty this weekend. Kickoff at Williams Stadium in Lynchburg, Virginia is set for noon MT Saturday, November 30 on ESPN+.
New Mexico State has an opportunity to close out the season with three consecutive wins for the first time since 2017. The Aggies won their final three contests that year, defeating Idaho (17-10), South Alabama (22-17) and Utah State (26-20 in the NOVA Home Loans Arizona Bowl) to wrap up the campaign on a three-game winning streak.
For the second year in a row, the Aggies and Flames will play each other twice, as well as finish their respective regular seasons against each other.
New Mexico State won the first ever meeting between the two teams last year, but has now lost two straight contests against the Flames. Liberty earned a 20-13 road win in this season’s first meeting on October 5.
AMONG THE NATION’S BEST
Linebacker Javahn Fergurson is once again among the nation’s best in tackling. The Baton Rouge, Louisiana native, who led the FBS in tackles per game last season, has 122 total tackles through 11 games this year, which ranks as sixth most in the country.
He has double-digit tackles in eight games this year, racking up at least 13 tackles in seven consecutive contests before the game against UIW. The redshirt senior ranks fourth in the FBS in tackles per game.
1. Evan Weaver (Cal) – 14.9
2. Dele Harding (Illinois) – 12.0
3. John Lako (Akron) – 11.5
4. Javahn Fergurson (NM State) – 11.1
5. Treshaun Hayward (WMU) – 11.0
The Aggie offense, meanwhile, continues to rely on the arm of quarterback Josh Adkins. The redshirt sophomore signal caller has been up to the task this season, as he ranks 10th in the FBS in completions per game with 23.4.
SCOUTING THE FLAMES
Liberty enters Saturday’s contest with a 6-5 overall record. With two victories over FCS opponents this year, the fellow FBS independent squad needs one more win to secure bowl eligibility during its first season as a bowl-eligible FBS program.
Quarterback Stephen ‘Buckshot’ Calvert helms the Flames’ offense. He is one of two active FBS quarterbacks with 11,000 career passing yards, and he owns a 25-to-5 touchdown to interception ration this year.
Calvert has thrown for 3,000+ yards for the third straight season, and he needs 140 more passing yards to break his own Liberty single-season record of 3,363 yards (2017).
Wideout Antonio Gandy-Golden is the Calvert’s favorite target and for good reason. The senior ranks second in the nation in receiving yards with 1,304 and is 76 yards away from setting a new Liberty single-season receiving record.
Halfback Frankie Hickson powers the Flame running attack. He has run for 748 yards and eight touchdowns this year and is averaging 114.3 rushing yards per game in his career against the Aggies. He ran for 72 yards in the first meeting between the two teams earlier this season.
Defensively, the Flames are coming off their worst showing of the season. Liberty gave up a season-high 55 points at Virginia, allowing the Cavaliers to rush for 227 yards.
Liberty has allowed five of its 11 opponents this year to rush for 200 or more yards. The Flames rank No. 105 in the country in rushing defense, giving up 196.1 rushing yards per game.
The Flames have no issues getting to the quarterback, though. Liberty currently ranks No. 24 in the country in sacks per game with 2.8.
Defensive end Jessie Lemonier is responsible for causing the havoc. He has 12.5 tackles for loss this season, including a team-high 8.5 sacks. Teammate and fellow defensive end TreShaun Clark is right behind him at 7.5 tackles for loss and 4.5 sacks this year.