Aggies hold on to take 'Battle of i-25' thriller
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (CBS4) - The Battle of I-25 had its 108th installment between New Mexico State and the University of New Mexico at Dreamstyle Stadium on Saturday night. After forcing a fumble on the very first drive of the game, the Aggie defense continued to stifle the Lobos for three quarters of play. That was until a near comeback by the Lobos in the fourth quarter before the Aggies were able to hold on for a 30-28 victory on enemy territory.
UNM (1-1) put up 23 unanswered points in the fourth quarter which gave NM State (1-1) just a two-point lead, 30-28, with 1:11 remaining in the contest. This would be the final score of the contest as the Aggies set up on offense and ran the ball down the field to take the remaining 71 seconds off the clock to secure the team’s first win in Albuquerque since 2011.
On the second play of the game, Aggie safety Jacob Nwangwa put a nice hit on the UNM running back, Tyrone Owens, forcing a fumble which was recovered by Shamad Lomax on the Lobo 41-yard line. Then it took the Aggies just five plays to reach the end zone when Tyler Rogers connected with O.J. Clark on a 30-yard score.
The ensuing point after attempt saw the Lobos force a fumble which was returned for a safety and made the NM State lead 6-2 just 2:04 into the contest.
The Aggie defense went on to force back-to-back punts and the second of such saw NM State capitalize. After a pair of complete passes for a total of 12 yards, Rogers then hit Izaiah Lottie up the middle on a pass which the receiver broke free and turned into an 81-yard touchdown, his first of the season. With the score the Aggies led the Lobos, 13-2, after one quarter of play.
UNM began the next quarter marching down the field all the way to the Aggie 6-yard line. The NM State defense proceeded to allow the Lobos to gain just one yard over the next three plays and the opponent elected to kick the 23-yard field goal to make the Aggie lead, 13-5, with 11:02 left in the first half.
After a fumble by NM State gave the Lobos the ball on their own 39-yard line, the Aggie defense came up big again. On the second play of the UNM drive, Malik Demby recovered a fumble on the Aggie 42-yard line. The team went on to move down the field which set up a successful 39-yard field goal for Dylan Brown to give the Aggies a 16-5 advantage.
Another stop by the defense allowed Rogers and company to head back on the field where Lottie was again targeted for a 17-yard touchdown pass to put them ahead 23-5 with 2:22 left in the first half.
The Lobos set up for what looked to be the final drive of the half with only 42 seconds left before they went for a deep pass which resulted in a Ron LaForce interception at the Aggie 15-yard line, the first interception of his Aggie career. The Aggies went on to take a knee and head into the locker room with the 23-5 edge.
After NM State punted on their first series of the third quarter, LaForce came back out and forced another interception which he returned for 28 yards. The turnover did not result in points for the Aggies as they went on to punt to UNM who decided to bring in new quarterback, Tuioti Tekava, on the next drive.
The change had no immediate affect as NM State forced another punt which they turned into another score. The offense moved down the field on a drive that ended with an 11-yard touchdown pass to Jaleel Scott to give the Aggies a 30-5 lead heading to the final quarter.
UNM found a few holes in the Aggie defense in the fourth as they scored 23 unanswered points, beginning with a 19-yard touchdown pass. After the opponent failed to convert on a two-point attempt, NM State led 30-11 with 12:42 left in the game.
After an NM State punt, the Lobos took advantage on their next drive with an end-around that resulted in a 61-yard touchdown rush. With NM State leading, 30-19, UNM forced an interception which turned into a 22-yard field goal and gave the Aggies just a one score lead, 30-22.
The NM State offense was held quiet on their next drive and forced to punt for the fourth time in the quarter. The Lobos then looked to tie the game after a 19-yard touchdown pass. However, the Aggie defense stood strong and forced an incomplete pass on the 2-point attempt.
The team then took over as they led 30-28 with 1:11 left and successfully ran the ball down the field until the clock ticked down to zero giving the Aggies their first win of the season.
NM State football heads back to Las Cruces, N.M. for their first home game of the season when they play host to Troy on Saturday, Sept. 16, at 6 p.m. MT.
-Two touchdowns in game was a career-high for Izaiah Lottie.
-Ron LaForce forced the first and second interception of his career.
-LaForce’s pair of picks was the first time an Aggie had two interceptions since Shamad Lomax against Texas State (11/19/16).
-Rogers tied his career-high for most touchdowns in a game with four which was set against Arkansas State (11/29/14).
-Rogers 57 pass attempts tied his career-high which set last week at Arizona State (8/31/17)
-The win was the first time the Aggies beat the Lobos in back-to-back years since 2009-11
-The victory was the first win for NM State in Albuquerque since 2011
-Doug Martin secured his first win on the road against UNM
-This was only the fourth time in program history the Aggies beat the Lobos when the opponent scored 27+ points