LAS CRUCES, N.M. – The New Mexico State football team fought and clawed its way to a tough loss against Atlantic Coast Conference member Boston College, 48-34, Saturday afternoon at Aggie Memorial Stadium. The Aggies fall to 1-9 on the season while the Eagles move over .500 at 5-4.
Boston College, the first team from the ACC to ever play at Aggie Memorial Stadium, needed a couple of late touchdowns and an interception to overcome a very spirited NM State team.
The Aggies nearly matched Boston College yard for yard, finishing with 548 total yards to the Eagles’ 550. NM State was led by senior quarterback Andrew McDonald who finished the game by going 41-of-55 with 384 total passing yards, three touchdowns and one interception.
The ground attack was led by freshman and Las Cruces native Xavier Hall who almost had his first 100-yard game for the Aggies, finishing with 14 carries for 95 yards.
Junior wide receiver Austin Franklin once again paced the NM State receiving core en route to moving up the Aggie record books. Franklin finished with a team-high 10 receptions and 145 receiving yards to go along with two touchdowns. Saturday’s game was Franklin’s 28th straight with at least one reception and 10th with at least 100 yards receiving. Franklin also moved up to fifth on the Aggie all-time career receptions list (150) and fourth on the all-time career receiving touchdown list (17).
On the defensive side, senior linebacker Trashaun Nixon led NM State with 14 total tackles while fellow senior linebacker Bryan Bonilla added 12 total tackles.
The Aggies had a quick three-and-out after receiving the opening kickoff of the game. NM State, however, would get the ball right back after Eagle punt returner Dave Dudeck muffed the ensuing punt. The ball bounced right into the hands of Aggie senior Darien Johnson at the Boston College 29-yard line.
NM State would convert the turnover into three points off a 43-yard field goal by junior kicker Maxwell Johnson to score the first points of the game and take a 3-0 lead early in the first quarter.
Boston College answered with two field goals of its own and a 69-yard touchdown pass from senior quarterback Chase Rettig to senior tight end Mike Naples to take a 13-3 lead after one quarter of play.
The 13-straight points by the Eagles did not rattle the Aggies. Early in the second quarter NM State went on a 7-play, 84-yard drive to cut into the Boston College lead. The last three plays of the drive included a 22-yard pitch-and-catch throw from McDonald to Franklin, a 23-yard run from junior Travaughn Colwell from the wildcat formation and a 14-yard touchdown pass from McDonald to Franklin to slice the Eagle lead to 13-10.
Boston College quickly responded, however, reclaiming its 10-point lead with a 7-yard touchdown pass on its next possession.
With just over three minutes left in the half and trailing 20-10, The Aggies engineered their second-consecutive touchdown-scoring drive, driving 75 yards on nine plays.
With the Aggies at the Eagle 10-yard line, the halftime clock winding down to under 10 seconds and the Aggies without any timeouts, McDonald handed the ball to Hall who ran up the middle, a risky move considering it would be the last play of the half. The move paid off, however, as Hall forced his way to the end zone to cut the Boston College lead to 20-17 at the half.
McDonald went 16-of-23 in the first half for 144 yards and a touchdown. Hall had five carries for 54 yards and a touchdown while Franklin finished the first half with seven catches, 82 yards and a touchdown. Defensively, Nixon led the Aggies with nine total tackles in the first half.
Once again, the Eagles answered an Aggie touchdown with one of their own, this time by scoring on the first possession of the second half to once again take a 10-point lead at 27-17. NM State’s defense would tighten up after the Boston College touchdown, however, forcing the Eagles to punt during their next three possessions.
The Aggie offense, meanwhile, took its second possession of the half and went on a 6-play, 68-yard drive that culminated with NM State’s third touchdown of the day. The drive was highlighted by a 22-yard run and 22-yard catch by Hall and punctuated by a 16-yard touchdown pass from McDonald to junior wide receiver Jerrel Brown.
The third quarter ended just as it had begun, with Boston College holding on to a three-point lead, this time at 27-24.
The first part of the fourth quarter saw the Aggies tie the score with Johnson’s second field goal of the day. Johnson nailed a 32-yarder after a 15-play drive that ate up over six minutes of the clock to tie the game at 27.
The tie was short-lived, however, as Boston College’s Myles Willis returned the ensuing kickoff 98 yards to once again give the Eagles a 7-point lead at 34-27.
NM State did not flinch, scoring just over two minutes later on Franklin’s second touchdown catch of the day, a 49-yard pass play on a post route to once again tie the ball game, 34-34, with just over eight minutes left in the contest.
The Aggie defense once again came up big on the Eagles’ next drive, this time by forcing a fumble as Boston College was driving into NM State territory. Bonilla recovered the fumble at the Aggie 36-yard line. Unfortunately, NM State could do nothing with the turnover and was forced to punt the ball away.
Two long touchdown runs by Eagle running back Andre Williams and a McDonald interception ultimately sealed NM State’s fait. Boston College scored the final 14 points of the game en route to the 48-34 win.
The Aggies now have a bye week before traveling to Florida to play Florida Atlantic on Nov. 23. The game is scheduled for a 1 p.m. (MT) start.