NM State Football Hosts Cal Poly Thursday for Season Opener
Courtesy: New Mexico State University  
Release:  08/26/2014

LAS CRUCES, N.M. – The NM State football team hosts the Cal Poly Mustangs Thursday, August 28, at 6 p.m. (MT) at Aggie Memorial Stadium in the season opener.  This will be the fourth meeting between the two teams and the third game in Las Cruces, N.M.

NM State joined the Sun Belt Conference this season after having played an independent schedule in 2013.

The first meeting between the two teams took place on Sept. 28, 1956.  The Aggies fell to Cal Poly 10-8 at Aggie Memorial Stadium.  The next two meetings would go the same way, with the Aggies losing close ones and falling to 0-3 in the series.  The last meeting was in 1997.

Cal Poly went 6-6 in 2013, going 5-3 in conference play.  They outscored their opponents by seven points a game last season and had over 1,000 yards more than the opposition as well.  The Mustangs were a very run-oriented offense last season, only throwing 232 times for 1,614 yards while running 680 times for 3,710 yards.

The game will be on Aggie Vision and ESPN3.com, as well as Aggie Access. 

Ag Day Set for August 28 with Activities for All

For the second-consecutive year, the New Mexico State football team’s season opener will coincide with Agriculture Day as the Aggies face the Cal-Poly University Mustangs, Thursday, Aug. 28, at 6 p.m. (MT) at the Aggie Memorial Stadium.

There will be plenty of activities to keep the family occupied before kickoff such as horseback riding, chili roasting, peanut roasting, and tailgating. The Ag Day festivities will take place in Parking Lot A, just north of the stadium from 3-6 p.m.

“This year we’re building on the fun we had last year with an enhanced, more accessible layout featuring dozens of booths showing what makes New Mexico agriculture so unique,” New Mexico Secretary of Agriculture Jeff Witte said.  “Ag Day gives you a chance to ask questions and learn more about where your food comes from – and how items like cotton, wool, and wood are turned into products we use every single day.”

This year’s Agriculture Day builds on last year’s inaugural event, which featured samples of fresh New Mexico watermelon, ice cream, and other local foods; short horseback rides for the kids; a cow-milking demonstration; an interactive display on the water cycle; face painting; and roping demonstrations.

The fun continues inside Aggie Memorial Stadium.  At the concession stands, NM State food service provider, Sodexo Dining Services, is offering kids 12 and under a free hot dog and soda with the purchase of a $5 game ticket.  People can also print a coupon (http://www.nmda.nmsu.edu/wp-content/uploads/2011/10/2014-Ag-Day-flyer.jpg) for a free side of New Mexico green chili to add to their burger, nachos, or hot dog.  The concessions menu will feature items containing New Mexico cheese, pinto beans, tortilla chips, salsa, pecans, pistachios, and kettle corn.

Purchase Single-Game Tickets at PicQuik 24/7; On-Sale August 21

Single-game tickets for the NM State football home opener on Thursday, August 28, go on sale Thursday, August 21 at 10 a.m. (MT). Single-game tickets start at $10 for adults and $5 for kids 12 and under.

Tickets can be purchased in person at the Pan American Center ticket office or any of the Las Cruces Pic Quik store locations. Additionally, fans can purchase tickets by phone at 575-646-1420 or online at ticketmaster.com.

All 21 local Pic Quik locations will have various tickets available for purchase on a game-by-game basis, significantly expanding locations Aggie fans can purchase tickets and can be purchased at any time, 24 hours-a-day, 7-days-a-week.

The home opener is on Thursday, Aug. 28 at 6 p.m. (MT) and is being marketed as Ag Day, with over 40 New Mexico agriculture companies on display during tailgating. The Aggies will play host to Cal Poly.

A special kid price has been introduced this season, as all kids 12 and under can receive entry to any home game this season for just $5. The home opener will also feature a special concessions deal for kids.  Each $5 kid’s ticket holder will receive a free hot dog and drink at the concession stands. This special concessions deal is good for the home opener only.

NM State Football on the Radio

The New Mexico State flagship radio station for football and men’s basketball is changing from 103.9 FM to 98.7 FM in Las Cruces. All football and men’s basketball games will be aired live and in their entirety.

This move is effective with the first home football game on Thursday, August 28 at 6 p.m. (MT). The pre-game show will begin at 5 p.m. with Jack Nixon and Preston Williams.

The flagship station this year will be 98.7 FM of the NM State Sports Network, which extends across the state of New Mexico. Other stations in the network carry all football and men’s basketball games and include:

·         KNMZ 107.1FM Alamogordo

·         ESPN 101.7 The Team Albuquerque/Rio Rancho

·         KSVP 990AM Artesia

·         KAMQ 1240AM Carlsbad

Aggies on Social Media

The Aggies Athletic Department has a Twitter account at Twitter.com @nmstateaggies where fans and media can get all their in-game scores.  The Aggies also have a Facebook page at www.facebook.com/NMSUathletics.  Don’t forget to follow us on Instagram @nmstateaggies for all the behind the scene info on your team.

Meet the NM State Backfield

The Aggies are looking forward to a successful year from their running backs, with high expectations for the ground game in the 2014 season.  Headlining the backfield will be sophomore back Xavier Hall and Senior Brandon Betancourt, assisted by incoming freshman Larry Rose. 

Hall and Betancourt are Las Cruces natives; both having successful careers at Las Cruces High and Mayfield High respectively.  Rose is coming off of his senior season at Fairfield High in Fairfield, Texas, where he rushed for 2,924 yards on 237 carries and recorded 49 touchdowns.

Last year Betancourt played in eight games for the Aggies, rushing for 415 yards and two touchdowns, averaging 4.5 yards a carry.  He also caught 13 receptions for 106 yards and one touchdown, averaging 8.2 yards per catch.  Betancourt rushed for a career-high 139 yards against I-25 rival New Mexico (Oct. 5).  He followed that performance with 103 yards rushing on 17 carries against Rice (Oct. 19).  He rushed for 95 yards and one touchdown versus No. 13 UCLA (Sept. 21).

Hall ran for 247 yards on 48 carries and two touchdowns during the 2013 season and recorded seven receptions for 47 yards in 11 games.  He averaged 5.1 yards a rush and 6.7 yards a catch, starting the final four games of the year.  His best game came against Boston College (Nov. 9), where Hall recorded a career-high 95 yards on 14 carries and one touchdown. He also recorded four receptions for 32 yards in the same game.

NM State rushed for 1,701 yards last season on 444 carries.  Averaging 3.8 yards a carry and 141.8 yards a game, the Aggies scored 14 touchdowns on the ground last season.

Return of the Lefty

NM State was one of only two schools in the nation that boasted left-footed kickers starting at both punter and place kicker during the 2013 season.  While punter Cayle Chapman-Brown has left the Aggies, kicker Maxwell Johnson is returning for his senior year.

Johnson played in 12 games for the Aggies as a place kicker, kicking 29-of-32 PATs, 10-of-12 field goals and 20 kickoffs.  He was 2-of-2 on field goals attempts three times in the season, against Rice (Oct. 19), Abilene Christian (Oct. 26) and Boston College (Nov. 9).  Johnson recorded his longest field goal of his career, against Rice, a 49-yard kick.  Over the last six games of the season, Johnson made 18-straight extra point attempts, including a 5-of-5 performance against Louisiana (Nov. 2). 

Aggies Honor Teammate

The NM State football team will wear No. 39 on the back of their helmets during the 2014 season to honor teammate Miles Washington, who suffered a life-altering injury during spring practice in April, 2013. 

Johnson on Lou Groza Award Watch List

New Mexico State's Maxwell Johnson was named to the 30-player Watch List for the 2014 Lou Groza Collegiate Place-Kicker Award, as announced by the Palm Beach County Sports Commission.

Johnson returns after he was NM State's leading scorer in 2013. His 10 field goals came in the span of the final eight games, including a pair in the fourth quarter of a 34-29 victory over Abilene Christian.

Accomplishments are tabulated throughout the season and the Lou Groza Collegiate Place-Kicker Award will announce its 20 semifinalists on Thursday, November 6th. From this list, a panel of more than 300 FBS head coaches, SIDs, media members, and former Groza finalists selects the top three finalists for the award by Monday, November 24th. That same group then selects the national winner, who will be announced on Thursday, December 11th during the Home Depot College Football Awards, broadcast live from Orlando, Fla.

Valerian Ume-Ezeoke named to Rimington Trophy Watch List

The Rimington Trophy Committee has released its 2014 Fall Watch List, which features 66 of the best centers in Division I football, including three centers from the Sun Belt Conference.  Valerian Ume-Ezeoke was listed among the preseason candidates for the award that annually goes to the nation's best center.

Ume-Ezeoke started at center for the Aggies offensive line during the 2013 season, recording 56.5 knockdowns, second highest on the team.  He had a season-high 10 knockdowns against Louisiana (Nov. 2).  Ume-Ezeoke’s play helped the Aggies’ leading rusher Germi Morrison rush for an average of 4.1 yards a rush on 109 carries for 451 yards and a team-high four rushing touchdowns.  His blocking ability also allowed quarterback Andrew McDonald lead the Aggies in passing, throwing for 2,497 yards and 15 touchdowns, averaging 208.1 yards a game.  Ume-Ezeoke was also named to the Remington Trophy Watch List last season.

While more than a dozen All-America teams are selected annually, the Rimington Trophy committee uses the Walter Camp Foundation, Sporting News and Football Writers Association of America teams to determine a winner. The winner will be recognized at the Rimington Trophy Presentation at the Rococo Theatre in Lincoln, Neb., on Saturday, Jan. 17, 2015.

New Mexico Talent on Display in 2014

The 2014 NM State football team is filled with local players from N.M.  The team boasts 17 players from the land of enchantment, with six from the Las Cruces area and nine from the Albuquerque area. 

Some of the local players returning from last year are wide receivers Adam Shapiro and Joshua Bowen, running backs Xavier Hall and Brandon Betancourt and linemen Abram Holland and Matt Ramondo.

Aggies in the Sun Belt

After playing an independent schedule during the 2013 season, the Aggies are now members of the Sun Belt Conference for the 2014-15 season. 

Founded in 1976, the Sun Belt has adapted and evolved in its nearly 40-year existence.  The Sun Belt Conference has a permanent seat on the NCAA’s 18-member Board of Directors. With the 2014-15 year marking the debut of the College Football Playoff (CFP), the Sun Belt continues to find itself among the 10 premier college football conferences and the new system is guaranteed universal access based on performance – there are no automatic qualifiers for the playoff system.  Additionally, the CFP will mean that a spot among the premier bowl games of college football will be guaranteed to the highest-ranked champion from the other “Group of Five” conferences: the Sun Belt Conference, American Athletic Conference, Mountain West Conference, Mid-American Conference and Conference USA.

With the College Football Playoff included with the league’s other bowl arrangements, the Sun Belt Conference is tied to seven total bowl games.  The R+L Carriers New Orleans Bowl, the GoDaddy Bowl, the Raycom Media Camellia Bowl, the Cure Bowl (debuting in 2015) all guarantee a home for a bowl eligible Sun Belt Conference team each year.  And beginning with the 2016 season, the Sun Belt is also part of a rotation of conferences that will send a team to the Bahamas Bowl and the Miami Beach Bowl.

The Sun Belt’s 21 non-conference football wins in the 2013 season was a new record for the league - eclipsing the mark of 19 set the year prior.  Additionally of note for the league’s non-conference win total was that the Sun Belt fared well against its peer opponents in the non-AQ BCS ranks.  The Sun Belt finished a combined 8-1 against members of Conference-USA (4-1), the Mid-American Conference (3-0) and the Mountain West Conference (1-0). The Sun Belt also had the best overall non-conference win percentage when comparing the four non-AQ conferences.

Aggie Walk On Awarded Scholarship

Sophomore Rayvean Moore was awarded a football scholarship after playing the 2013 season as a walk on.  Head coach Doug Martin said Moore earned the scholarship because of his hard work on the field and in the classroom. 

Moore played in nine games during the 2013 season at wide receiver and on special teams.  He had one reception for two yards against San Diego State Sept. 28.  Moore redshirted as a freshman.  

Tyler Rogers Steps in as Aggie QB

Tyler Rogers has been named the starting quarterback for the NM State Aggies for the 2014-15 season.

Rogers is a transfer sophomore who played one year at Western Arizona.  He played one season with Arizona Western as the team’s starting quarterback. He threw for 1,832 yards and 14 touchdowns with only seven interceptions. Rogers also ran for 364 yards and a team-best 10 touchdowns. Rogers missed two and a half games down the final stretch of the season, but was able to dress for the Matadors third-straight appearance in the Fisher Automotive El Toro Bowl.

In high school Rogers was the starting quarterback at Liberty High School for four years, leading his team to three league championships. He threw for 5,903 yards during his high school career, including 76 touchdown passes. Rogers also ran for 1,691 yards and 26 scores. As a senior, Rogers was the league and district player of the year, while also being selected as a first team all-section and second team all-state. He was one of two quarterbacks from Arizona selected to play in the California vs. Arizona All-Star game.

Record in Season Openers

As the NM State football team prepares to kick off their season against Cal Poly on Aug. 28, they will look to build on their all-time winning record of 64-50-3 in season openers. The Aggies also boast an impressive 56-20-1 record when opening their season in front of their home crowd, which is a positive considering they will begin this year’s campaign at home. In the first home game in school history, in 1895, NM State came away with a victory over El Paso by a score of 1-0 under former Head Coach Alfred Holt. The most recent victory in a season opener for the Aggies also came at home, against Sacramento State where NM State won 49-19.

NM State RB Named to Award Watch List

Aggie freshman running back Larry Rose III was named to the Earl Campbell Tyler Rose Award Watch List Aug. 20, one of 43 players and one of only two freshman named to the list.

The Earl Campbell Tyler Rose award recognizes the top offensive player in Div. 1 football who also exhibits the enduring characteristics that define Earl Campbell: integrity, performance, teamwork, sportsmanship, drive, community and tenacity. More specifically the tenacity to overcome adversity and injury in pursuit of reaching goals.

In addition to those attributes, the athlete must be born in Texas and/or graduated from a Texas high school and/or played at a Texas-based junior college or four year college.

Rose is from Fairfield, Texas, where he attended Fairfield High School.  Playing running back and defensive back, as a senior Rose was named the Associated Press Sports Editor Class 3A Offensive Player of the Year and a first team all-state selection.

He rushed for 2,924 yards on 237 carries and 49 touchdowns his senior year.  He also caught nine passes for 114 yards and three touchdowns.  His season high was six scores in one game.  Rose helped his team to a 15-1 record, the state championship game, and the No. 19 ranking in the state of Texas.  Defensively Rose recorded seven tackles, six pass breakups and one interception.

Of the 43 players to be named to the watch list, there are nine conferences represented as well as three independent schools.  By position, 17 wide receivers, 12 running backs, eight quarterbacks, three tight ends, two fullbacks and one halfback were selected for the watch list.

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