New Mexico State football clinches CUSA championship game spot
New Mexico State football team wins 6th straight game, secures spot in Conference USA championship in first year in league.
The New Mexico State football team has achieved an incredible feat in its first year in the Conference USA. With their sixth straight victory, the Aggies defeated Western Kentucky, the preseason favorite, 38-29 on the road. This impressive win improved NM State's record to 8-3 overall and 6-1 in conference play, earning them a spot in the conference championship game on December 1st at Liberty.
This season has been historic for New Mexico State, as their eight wins mark the most in a single season since 1965. Coach Jerry Kill expressed his shock and pride in the team's accomplishments, emphasizing the significance of achieving this success in Las Cruces. Despite the rapid progress, Kill acknowledges that the team still has room for growth and improvement.
The Aggies secured their eligibility for a bowl game with a previous victory over Middle Tennessee and are set to face Auburn next week. They will conclude the season with a home game against Jacksonville State, a team transitioning from FCS and ineligible for postseason play.
After trailing 14-0 in the first quarter, the Aggies mounted a comeback, entering halftime with a score of 21-17. The second half was dominated by the Aggies, as they outscored Western Kentucky 21-8, including 21 unanswered points. A pivotal moment came when Diego Pavia connected with Eli Stowers for a seven-yard touchdown, giving the Aggies a 24-21 lead. Stowers then sealed the victory with a seven-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter.
The Aggies' ground game was instrumental in their success, rushing for 220 yards with an average of 6.1 yards per carry. Thomas led the team with 85 yards on seven carries, while the defense held strong, securing the win with a 57-yard interception return by Mekhi Miller.
Quarterback Diego Pavia's performance was noteworthy, completing 14-of-24 passes for 141 yards and two touchdowns, in addition to rushing for 44 yards. The team's determination and resilience were evident, as Miller expressed their excitement for the upcoming championship game at Liberty. The Aggies have proven themselves as a force to be reckoned with, and their journey to the conference championship is a testament to their hard work and dedication.