After a tough loss in Missouri last week, the NMSU football team put up a dominant performance against the Liberty Flames on Saturday, Nov. 25, with a final score of 49-14.
The Aggies went into the game with a record of 4-6 and the Liberty Flames were 8-3. Liberty, which was ranked as high as No. 23 this season, was expected to dominate the game until Aggie quarterback Diego Pavia and the Aggie offense decided otherwise.
The game began with a slow start as both teams battled it out on the field. With six minutes left in the first quarter, Pavia threw a 34-yard touchdown to receiver Jonathan Brady. The lead would be cut short after an NMSU fumble was recovered by Liberty. After a couple of plays ran on the NMSU side of the field, Liberty running back T.J. Green ran it in for the score.
The second quarter was all in favor of the Aggies as they scored 21 unanswered points. Those 21 points included a touchdown run and two more touchdown passes by Pavia. One of those passes was to running back Star Thomas, who had seven carries and 11 rushing yards on the day.
With 43 seconds left in the half, Pavia threw another touchdown pass, this time to receiver Kordell David for a 42-yard gain. The Aggies were taking care of business and they weren’t done as they led at halftime 28-7.
“I’ve never had this team in this situation before,” said NMSU head football coach Jerry Kill. “You gotta keep playing hard and smart,” Kill said.
After a Liberty punt in the early stages of the third quarter, Pavia led the team on another scoring drive. With a short run by Star Thomas and short throws by Pavia, it didn’t take the Aggies long to put another six points on the scoreboard. Pavia was able to sneak his way through the Liberty line and earn his second touchdown run of the game.
The next possession for Liberty was short lived. After a first-down run by Liberty running back T.J. Green, the Aggie defense tightened up on the blitz and was able to stop him short of the first down multiple times on the drive. The Liberty Flames looked to keep the ball, but it was returned to the Aggies after Liberty quarterback Johnathan Bassett threw the ball incomplete on a fourth-and-four at the NMSU 47-yard line.
With only two plays on the Aggies next drive, running back Jamoni Jones took it to the house with a 49-yard run. Jones’ stats on the game were 13 carries for 74 yards and the touchdown. At the end of the third quarter, the Aggies led with a score of 42-7.
The fourth quarter contained very little scoring, but once again Pavia took control of the offense and ran for his third touchdown, which put the Aggies up by six possessions. The game ended with a Liberty touchdown late in the second half, but in the end the Aggies came out victorious in a huge upset.
The Aggies now sit at 5-6. Pavia’s stats on Saturday were 214 passing yards, 125 rushing yards and six total touchdowns. It’s a good way to cap off the Aggies’ season; however, it is rumored the Aggies could potentially play one more game next weekend to make up for the San Jose State game that was postponed on Oct. 22.
If the Aggies were to win against a Football Bowl Subdivision team this week, the team would be bowl-eligible for the first time since 2017.