The Independent Student Voice of NMSU Since 1907

NMSU Round Up

The Independent Student Voice of NMSU Since 1907

NMSU Round Up

The Independent Student Voice of NMSU Since 1907

NMSU Round Up

Aggies fall to Liberty in Conference USA opener

Photo courtesy of NMSU Athletics.

New Mexico State football is searching for answers on the defensive end after falling 33-17 to the Liberty Flames after allowing them to gain 526 total yards.   

The Aggies started strong on their opening possession and ran the football on the first play. After junior quarterback Diego Pavia threw a 15-yard pass to senior wide receiver Chris Bellamy, the ball was fumbled but recovered by Bellamy. NM State continued up field and junior running back Jamoni Jones ran up the middle for a 10-yard touchdown to give the Aggies an early 7-0 lead.  

The Flames were seeking to respond but were called for offensive holding that backed them up 10 yards. Despite the penalty, Liberty was able to pick up another first down. On the following play as Liberty’s Kaidon Salters was scrambling, he fumbled the ball, and NM State quickly recovered it. However, the Flames’ defense forced a three and out and the Aggies returned possession. 

The momentum shifted and Liberty’s offence began to take control. Their efforts started with a completed 20-yard pass to senior wide receiver Treon Sibley. Following two more rush plays, Salters found wide receiver CJ Daniels for a 40-yard touchdown pass to tie up the game 7-7. 

On NM State’s next possession, the offense faced a third and 20. The determined Diego Pavia completed a 29-yard pass to wide receiver Jordan Smith to pick up a first down on the final play of the first quarter. Unable to convert it into a touchdown, the Aggies were unable to finish off the drive with a touchdown and settled for a 35-yard field goal.  

The Flames and the Aggies traded touchdowns on the next three possessions. Salters rushed to his left for a three-yard touchdown on one possession. Pavia then led a six-play drive that ended in his first touchdown pass of the day to wide receiver Trent Hudson. Salters responded with his second touchdown pass to senior tight end Bentley Hanshaw to take the lead 20-17. 

The Flames defense picked up the pace when sophomore safety Brylan Green intercepted Pavia on the Aggies next possession. The Flames quickly moved the ball deep into Aggie territory, but the defense made a stop on third and goal to force Liberty to settle for a 22-yard field goal. The Flames led 23-17 entering the second half.  

The Flames finished the half with 362 total yards, 117 rushing yards, and 245 passing yards, while converting on 5 of their 6 third down attempts in the first half. While the Aggies only recorded 226 total yards, 87 rushing yards, and 139 passing yards. 

At the start of the third quarter, Liberty maintained possession of the ball for nine minutes. The drive ended in Salters earning his second touchdown run of the evening to put Liberty up 30-17. 

On the Aggies next drive, redshirt sophomore Monte Watkins ran the ball for 12 yards for a first down. This effort was counteracted when Liberty’s Jerome Jolly Jr. Sacked Diego Pavia resulting in NMSU’s second turnover of the game.  

The Flames took the opportunity and moved the ball down the field. Liberty scored the last three points of the game when Lenderink drove in his second field goal of the night from 22 yards.  

Dropped passes by receivers that left a lot of yards on the field, miscommunications, turnovers, and the Flames defense holding the Aggies to 115 total second half yards, led to a shutout in the last two quarters. The Flames won 33-17 and earned their first Conference USA win of the season.   

After the game, head coach Jerry Kill commented on the changes his team is looking to make.  

 “They both can be corrected, the turnover thing, you can’t turn it over and you got to make good decisions,” coach Kill said. “From a defensive standpoint, we got to play better.” 

The Aggies will now travel to Albuquerque to take on I-25 rival, the University of New Mexico Lobos. Saturday, Sept. 16 at 6 p.m. Coverage will be streamed on the Mountain West Network.  



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About the Contributor
Victor Fierro
Victor Fierro, Sports Writer
Victor Fierro is starting his first year with The Round Up as a staff writer. He is currently a senior majoring in Journalism and Media Studies with a minor in Sports Marketing. He developed a passion for writing when he was in high school. His main goal is to become a play-by-play announcer for an NBA team. Victor loves to write game stories for all sports including basketball and football. Victor hopes working for The Round Up will help him grow as a person and a journalist.

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