Big first half not enough as Aggies fall to Utah State

David White

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Cassidy Kuester

New Mexico State’s offense looks to continue its improvement against Utah State.

The NMSU Football team entered Aggie Memorial Stadium on a 4-game losing streak including 3 away games. Though the odds were stacked against them, the Aggies looked to shift the tides back in their favor with an upset win over the 6-2 Utah State Aggies. There has been a sense of bad blood between these teams since NMSU’s 2017 Arizona Bowl win over Utah State, their first bowl win since 1960, which was also against Utah State. 

The Aggie offense started off well, leading a long drive deep into Utah State territory but had to settle for a short field goal. However, an Aggie rusher went virtually unblocked up the middle and blocked the kick, leaving the score at zero a piece. The defense responded accordingly, forcing a quick three-and-out and punt for USU inside their own territory. 

NMSU’s offense continued picking apart the secondary of USU with quick and intermediate passes all over the field. Thanks to this “west-coast” offensive approach and the improvisational running of Quarterback Jonah Johnson, the Aggies capped off the drive with a short rushing touchdown up the middle by star Running back Juwan Price.  

The offensive momentum continued over to the defense as well, as the Aggies forced yet another three-and-out and punt by the Utah State Aggies and got the ball back in a very manageable field position. The Aggies continued to look poised once again in the ensuing drive but were held to a 45-yard field goal made by Kicker Ethan Albertson, which is a season and career long for the redshirt sophomore. 

The USU Aggies looked to overcome this 10-0 slump they had found themselves in and led a long, methodical drive all the way down to the NMSU goal line. However, NMSU showed their toughness and bend-don’t-break defense with 4 consecutive stops on the goal line and forcing a turnover-on-downs within a yard for Utah State.  

Though this was an impressive defensive display, NMSU gave themselves poor starting field position on offense and were forced to punt from their own endzone, setting up a great field position for Utah State. The USU Aggies quickly took advantage of this and scored a 33-yard passing from Quarterback Logan Bonner to Wide Receiver Devin Thompkins, bringing the game within one score at 10-7 in favor of NMSU. 

NMSU would respond with a field goal late in the second quarter and an interception on the final USU drive of the half. This first half momentum pushed the Aggies to an impressive 13-7 lead over Utah State, something that most statisticians would not have predicted. However, the NMSU Aggies would not find the end zone or put anything on the scoreboard for the rest of the day. 

The NMSU Aggies would punt twice and turn the ball over on downs on their only 4 offensive drives of the second half. On the other side of the ball, the Utah State Aggies would score 4 straight touchdowns and run out the clock at the end of the game to seal the deal against NMSU. Of the 5 touchdowns by the USU Aggies, 4 of them were thrown by Quarterback Logan Bonner and 1 rushing touchdown by Running Back Elelyon Noa nearing the end of the fourth quarter. 

NMSU looked very cohesive together as both offensive and defensive units, with great play calling and execution by the coaching staff and the players. However, thanks to a combination of improved play by Utah State and their halftime coaching adjustments, NMSU was simply unable to regain their rhythm from the first half and allowed the USU offense over 450 yards of offense and over 350 yards of passing yardage.  

The Aggies will look to find that impressive display in the first half and translate it to an entire game as they face the heavy favorite University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa, Alabama. They are currently ranked as the #2 best college football team in the entire nation. The Aggies will look to shock the world in Alabama on Saturday, November 13, at 10:00 AM Mountain Time. 

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