The New Mexico State football team came back from a 17-point deficit and outscored Georgia State 17-7 in the fourth quarter to defeat the Panthers 34-31 in the Georgia Dome, Saturday, Sept. 6. The Aggies move to 2-0 overall and 1-0 in Sun Belt Conference play, while Georgia State moves to 1-1 on the year and 0-1 in league play.
The Panthers scored the first 17 points of the game, which included a 68-yard touchdown pass, an 8-yard touchdown run and a 38-yard field goal but that was not enough to deflate NM State as the Aggies would score the next 10 points of the game. Head Coach Doug Martin was extremely proud of his team not giving up and showing toughness, both mentally and physically.
“We take our hats off to Georgia State and their coaching staff as they did a great job out there today,” Martin said. “It is great to see our team come from behind. In the past this wouldn’t have happened but the team has a new attitude and the guys have a lot of fight in them.”
The Aggies struggled offensively in the first half committing two turnovers, while accumulating 180 first half yards. NM State seemed to get things going after falling behind 17-0 with 11:40 left in the second quarter.
“We started off a little sluggish today, especially on offense, but as the game went on we started playing off each other with the defense making great plays and the offense responding to that,” said Martin. “We still have a long ways to go but we are far from where we were at.”
NM State eventually got on the board when senior kicker Maxwell Johnson hammered a kick through the uprights from 41 yards out. It was his longest of the season, while his career long is a 49 yard field goal, which he hit against Rice on Oct. 19, 2013.
NM State scored again, making it 10-unanswered points to pull to within a touchdown. The second score of the afternoon for the Aggies came when defensive end Jay Eakins tipped the ball behind the line of scrimmage on a 2nd-and-10 with 3:15 in the second quarter. After Eakins tipped the ball linebacker Rodney Butler snagged it out of the air returning it 40 yards for a touchdown. Johnson hit the point-after to make it a 17-10 ballgame in favor of Georgia State.
Although the Panthers had the ball for the last drive of the half, the Aggie defense closed out the half strong picking up a sack, with defensive linemen Noah Brown and Kalei Auelau teaming up to bring down the GSU quarterback.
A quick score to start the third quarter by GSU put the Aggies down by 14 with 14:00 remaining on the clock. The Panthers used a 54-yard run to take a 24-10 lead on the third play of the half.
GSU got the ball back on an interception with 12:51 left in the third quarter but the NM State defense held the Panthers. After a 30-yard punt by GSU, giving NM State the ball back at the Aggie 24-yard line, the Aggies marched down the field using seven plays to pull within a touchdown at 24-17. The touchdown came on a 36-yard pass from Rodgers to wide receiver Teldrick Morgan.
NM State used a 10 play, 29-yard drive to score three points on a 30-yard field goal by Johnson bringing the Aggies to within four at 24-20 with 14:16 on the clock in the fourth quarter. The Aggie defense used that momentum to force GSU into a three-and-out, giving NM State the ball back at the Aggie 48-yard line.
After seven rushes and one pass completion, the Aggies would take their first lead of the game. The touchdown came on a lob to the corner of the end zone from Rodgers to senior wide receiver Joseph Matthews with 8:04 left in the fourth quarter making it a 27-24 ball game.
The Panthers scored on the next drive using 13 plays to move 86 yards to take a 31-27 lead. NM State got the ball back with 2:30 left on the clock and marched down 83 yards in 2:15. The winning touchdown came on an 11-yard pass from Rodgers to Morgan with 00:15 left on the clock.
· Tyler Rogers had 241 yards passing; three touchdown passes and one interception
· NM State's last Sun Belt Conference football victory was in 2004 when the Aggies beat Florida Atlantic under Tony Samuel
· The Aggies are 2-0 for the first time since 1999 under Tony Samuel