NMSU Football ends their three-game losing streak with win over South Carolina State

Juliana Trujillo

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Emma Hood

The Aggies celebrate in the end zone after another score against SCSU.

The New Mexico State football team finally ended their losing streak by defeating South Carolina State, with a final score of 43-35. The Aggies’ offense came out firing Saturday night and used this to secure their first win of the season on their own turf at Aggie Memorial Stadium.

In their game last Saturday against the University of New Mexico, junior quarterback Jonah Johnson left the game with a wrist injury and Dino Maldonado took his place. Maldonado, a sophomore transfer from Ventura College, was named the starter for Saturday’s game, the first of his career. He proved to be more than comfortable on the field and led the offense to five touchdowns in the first half alone. Along with his outstanding performance, Maldonado also became the first Aggie since 2007 to throw for 300 or more yards in a first career start.

In the opening drive, Juwuan Price carried the ball and rushed for a 14 yard touchdown. This was the first time an Aggies opening drive resulted in a touchdown this season and was also their first rushing touchdown of the year. Still with plenty of time in the first quarter, the Bulldog offense was stopped and NMSU’s redshirt junior running back O’Maury Samuels rushed into the endzone for a quick three yard score. The extra point was then blocked by SCSU, but quickly recovered by NM State, resulting in a convenient two-point conversion. Samuels and Price continued this early dominance on the ground along with the aid of their quarterback Maldonado for the rest of the first half.

In the post game press conference, quarterback Maldonado said, “The receivers did a great job of getting open and it’s just my job to give them the ball.”

Coming into the second quarter, NMSU maintained their early momentum and scored three more touchdowns in the quarter. The first of these came from a handoff to Price for an eight yard run into the right side of the endzone, giving Price his first multi-touchdown game this season.

The Bulldogs finally got on the scoreboard with a rush by Kendrell Flowers, with the extra point called no-good. NM State quickly returned the favor however when Dino Maldonado threw a dime, hence the nickname “Dino Dimes”, to Jared Wyatt in the left corner of the endzone. With five minutes left in the half, SC State coordinated a seven-play drive that resulted in a 37 yard touchdown pass to Richard Bailey. The Aggies retaliated on offense once again, scoring another touchdown with a minute left in the half. Price initiated this drive with a 58-yard kickoff return, followed by a 48-yard throw-and-catch from Maldonado to sophomore wide receiver, Isaiah Garcia-Casteneda. The Aggies, now fired-up, headed into the halftime with a solid 36-13 lead.

The Aggies came into the second half with the same fire and energy from the first half, ready to finish the game off right. Early in the third quarter, junior defensive back, D.J. McCullough intercepted a pass by opposing quarterback Corey Fields and returned it for a 19 yard gain. This big defensive play facilitated the next Aggie touchdown, a pass from Maldonado thrown right into the hands of Eric Marsh, pushing the already lopsided score now to 43-13 in favor of the Aggies. SCSU came back the next drive and scored a six-yard receiving touchdown, causing a shift in the momentum and forced NM State’s first punt of the game on the ensuing drive. At the end of the third quarter, sophomore defensive back Syrus Dumas, who was making his first career start, forced NMSU’s second interception of the game. Despite the previous play, the Bulldogs came into the fourth quarter still fighting, as they scored an 18-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Will Vereen. After another score by the Bulldogs later in the game, the Aggie defense responded with one final interception by redshirt freshman linebacker Nick Giacolone.

Head Coach Doug Martin spoke on the Aggies second half effort saying, “We had suddenly given up on scoring plays defensively, and offensively we didn’t answer scores. What was great in the first half was when they scored, our offense answered and scored and we didn’t do that in the second half.” Despite the tougher second half, NMSU gained their first win with the final score of 43-35.

Elated by the win, Head Coach Doug Martin said, “Our kids deserved it. Watching the celebration in that locker room, our guys having fun with each other was a special moment. Overall, I’m just thrilled for them. We’ve got a lot of work to do, obviously, to keep winning and get better but this was still a big deal for these kids”

NM State will play again next Saturday, Sept. 25, for their homecoming game against the University of Hawaii.

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