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 head to CUSA championship after defeating Western Kentucky

Photo courtesy of NMSU Athletics.

For the first time in program history, New Mexico State University football is headed to the Conference USA championship after overpowering the Western Kentucky University Hilltoppers 38-29.  

The Aggies’ defense came onto the field ready before the Hilltoppers quickly retaliated when quarterback Austin Reed found Elijah Young for a 72-yard touchdown to take the early lead.  

After failing to convert to a first down, the Aggies desperately needed to make a stop, but before they could, Reed ran into the endzone to take the 14-0 lead.  

Towards the end of the first quarter, junior Star Thomas got the offense going after a 40-yard run up the right side to set the Aggies up for a 40-yard field goal that redshirt senior Ethan Albertson nailed to put the Aggies on the board.  

Riding their momentum into the second quarter, junior quarterback Diego Pavia and company pushed up the field as Pavia found sophomore Jonathan Brady for the Aggies’ first touchdown of the game.  

After a fourth-down conversion, sophomore Trevor Stephens broke through the Hilltoppers defense before Pavia spiraled a pass to junior Trent Hudson who made a spectacular one-handed catch to put the Aggies up 17-10.  

After 17 plays for 75-yards, the Hilltoppers struck back with a touchdown to retake the lead 21-17 before heading into the half.  

The Aggies took control in the second half as senior punter Zach Haynes put the Hilltoppers at the 5-yard line. After a pass to redshirt sophomore Eli Stowers for an 80-yard drive, the Aggies regained the lead with a 7-yard touchdown.  

Photo courtesy of NMSU Athletics.

After the Hilltoppers missed their second field goal, the Aggies pushed to the Hilltoppers’ 17-yard line and managed to convert a third and seven into a first down. On the following drive, Pavia nailed a pass to Brady to set Stowers up for a run to earn the Aggies the 24-21 lead.  

After redshirt junior Mehki Miller forced an interception, he ran for the pick six and picked up a 57-yard touchdown to secure the Aggies’ lead. The Hilltoppers managed to score one more touchdown but maintaining the lead, the Aggies earned their eighth straight win finishing 38-29.  

After the game, head coach Jerry Kill commented on the records his team is setting.  

“I’m just kind of in shock really, but it means the world to do it with these kids and in Las Cruces,” Kill said. “Having it happen so quickly, we’re still not where we need to be and here we are playing for the conference championship. I’m happy for everybody.” 

The Aggies will now get their second shot to redeem themselves against Liberty University in the CUSA Championship. 

“We just had the chip on our shoulder and we’re excited to get a chance at Liberty again,” Miller said. 

Before the championship game, the Aggies will stay on the road to face the Auburn University Tigers on Saturday, Nov. 18 at 2:00 p.m. Coverage will be streamed on the SEC Network and on 99.5 KXPZ-FM.  

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Juliana Trujillo, Sports Editor
Juliana Trujillo is in her first year as Sports Editor and third year with Student Media. She graduates this year with a bachelors in Journalism and Media Studies with minors in Sports Marketing as well as Social Media Management. She is excited for the opportunity of Sports Editor as a previous sports writer. She plans on attending graduate school and earning her masters in Sports Management with the hopes of working for the MLB. In her free time, she enjoys spending time outside, watching sports, and spending time with her friends. Her dog, Hazel, is also the mascot for The Round Up and is appreciated by the entire staff.

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