ATHENS, Ohio (Sept. 8) - The New Mexico State football team fell 51-24 to Ohio at the Bobcats' Peden Stadium Saturday evening.
Ohio pulled away from the Aggies in the second half after the Bobcats led 21-14 at halftime. OU scored 24 points in the third quarter and held the NM State offense to 16 yards and 10 points to extend its lead to 45-24 heading into the final quarter. The Bobcats improved to 2-0 on the season with the win as NM State dropped to 1-1 after the loss.
Aggie sophomore quarterback Andrew Manley finished the night at 12-of-24 passing with 132 yards and a touchdown. Sophomore receiver Austin Franklin led the receiving corps with five receptions for 72 yards, including a 42-yard touchdown grab. Franklin also blocked an OU field goal attempt just before halftime. Senior wide receiver Kemonte' Bateman hauled in four receptions for 45 yards.
Junior running back Tiger Powell gained a career-high 41 yards on the ground in the game on 14 carries including a 2-yard rushing touchdown. Junior running back Germi Morrison rushed for a career-high 39 yards on seven carries. Backfield teammate sophomore Akeelie Mustafa racked up 19 yards on two carries and also returned a kickoff 91 yards for a touchdown, part of 180 yards on six returns for the evening.
Defensively, junior strong safety Dele Junaid led the Aggies with a career-high 11 tackles while junior linebacker Bryan Bonilla added 10 stops - his second double-digit tackling effort in two games this season.
Down 21-14, NM State opened the scoring after the break. After the Aggies held OU to negative yards in the first drive of the second half, NM State drove 23 yards on seven-plays to set up a 38-yard field goal make by senior Tyler Stampler to cut the Bobcat lead to 21-17 with 11:55 left in the third quarter.
On the next possession, OU kicker Matt Weller connected on a 37-yard field goal with 10:45 left in the third. The Bobcats drove 55 yards on five plays in 1:10 to move ahead 24-17.
After a three-and-out by the Aggies, Ohio put together another scoring drive. Blankenship scored on a 5-yard run to complete a five-play, 32-yard drive that lasted 2:25. OU moved ahead 31-17 after the score.
The Bobcat defense came up big on the ensuing possession, as OU's Nate Carpenter intercepted a Manley pass and returned in 22 yards for a defensive score to put Ohio out front 38-17 with 6:30 remaining in the third. OU extended the lead to 45-17 after a 40-yard touchdown pass from Tettleton to Landon Smith at the 0:51 mark of the third.
NM State responded on the ensuing kickoff as sophomore running back Akeelie Mustafa scored his first touchdown as an Aggie on a 91-yard kickoff return to the end zone with 37 ticks left in the third to cut the OU lead to 45-24.
Ohio's Weller added a 25-yard field goal with 10:15 left in the game to lead 48-24.He later split the uprights again with a 26-yard kick to increase the Bobcat lead to 51-24 with 4:48 remaining for the final result.
After NM State went three-and-out on its initial offensive series to open the game, Ohio scored on its opening drive of the game. Quarterback Tyler Tettleton completed a seven-play, 68-yard scoring drive for OU on a 6-yard keeper for a touchdown to put the Bobcats up 7-0 at the 11:09 mark of the first quarter.
The Aggies answered on their next possession with an 11-play, 75-yard scoring drive that took 5:18 off the clock. Powell capped the drive with his third rushing touchdown of the season from two yards out. Stampler's successful PAT tied the score at 7-7 with 5:51 left in the opening quarter.
With the score tied after one quarter, Ohio pushed ahead on its first drive of the second stanza. Tettleton completed a 28-yard touchdown pass to Donte Foster down the right sideline to put OU up by a 14-7 margin with 13:42 left in the first half.
New Mexico State tied the score at 14-14 on the next possession. Manley connected with Franklin on a 42-yard touchdown reception at the 10:40 mark of the second quarter.
The Aggies earned another scoring chance after a fumble recovery by senior defensive end Desmond Anaya to give NM State the ball in Bobcat territory at the 35-yard line. NM State's offense stalled near the red zone and a 42-yard field goal attempt missed wide left with 6:54 left in the half.
OU moved back into the lead after a two-minute touchdown drive capped off by a 33-yard scoring run by Bobcat running back Beau Blankenship. The back ran for the final 71 yards on the drive that went five plays and 76 markers. Ohio led NM State 21-14 after the score with 4:54 left on the clock before halftime.
The Bobcats later drove 42 yards on 11 plays but a 28-yard OU field goal attempt was blocked by Franklin and advanced by Justin Smith to the NM State 33 as the half expired. Ohio led NM State 21-14 at the break.
At the half, Manley led the NM State passing attack with 8-of-14 passing with 111 yards and a touchdown. Franklin led the receiving corps with four receptions for 66 yards, including a 42-yard touchdown grab. Bateman also hauled in four receptions for 45 yards. Powell gained 40 yards on the ground in the first half on 12 carries including a 2-yard rushing touchdown. Defensively, Junaid led the Aggies with eight tackles while Bonilla added six first-half stops.
NM State returns to action next Saturday in El Paso to take on rival UTEP at the Sun Bowl at 6 p.m.