LAS CRUCES, N.M. – The New Mexico State football team meets Georgia State for the first time in the program’s history, Saturday, Sept. 6 in Atlanta, Ga. with kickoff set for 12 p.m. (MT). This will be the Aggies first road game of the season and their first game coming off a win at home against Cal Poly (Aug. 28).
The Georgia State Panthers are coming off a win in their season opener against Abilene Christian on Aug. 27. The two teams had a shootout, with the Panthers pulling ahead 38-37 in the closing seconds of the game.
Nick Arbuckle, the junior college-transfer quarterback for the Panthers, went 31-for-47 for 413, four touchdowns and two interceptions. Arbuckle is the fifth starting quarterback for Georgia State on opening day in as many years. The Panthers also added 153 yards on the ground, as well as one rushing touchdown.
Georgia State went 0-12 in 2013, finishing last in the Sun Belt Conference. Prior to joining the Sun Belt, the Panthers went 1-10 in 2012-13 as part of the Colonial Athletic Association. Prior to their season opener win against Abilene Christian, the last win came against Rhode Island Oct. 13, 2012 in a 41-7 victory on the road.
This meeting is the first for both teams.
Purchase Single-Game Tickets at PicQuik 24/7
Single-game tickets for the NM State football home opener on Thursday, August 28, went 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 next home game is against Rio Grande Rival, New Mexico on Saturday, Sept. 20 at 6 p.m. (MT). There is a Football Reunion set for Sept. 20 as well with former Aggie football players coming to campus to reunite.
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 took effect for 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 NM State on Instagram @nmstateaggies for all the behind the scene info on your team.
Sun Belt Preseason Preview
The Sun Belt Conference released its preseason rankings and co-champions UL Lafayette and Arkansas State were projected at No. 1 and No. 2 respectively. Newcomers NM State and Idaho were projected toward the bottom of the conference, with Idaho getting the No. 9 spot while the Aggies were placed No. 11.
After UL Lafayette’s 121 points to earn first place, the second spot was much closer to the rest of the conference. Arkansas State earned 102 points, with South Alabama at No. 3 with 98 points, followed by five-time Sun Belt Champion Troy at No. 4 with 84 points.
The Aggies will play four of the five top ranked Sun Belt teams this season, starting with an away game at Troy, Oct. 11, and finishing with Arkansas State in Jonesboro, Ark. NM State will meet Louisiana Nov. 8 for the Aggies homecoming game.
A Look at the NM State Defense
The NM State defense was clicking on all cylinders in their season opening victory over Cal Poly. The Aggies won by a score of 28-10, holding Cal Poly to zero points in the second half and limiting them to a total of six passing yards in the game.
The Aggies received a big performance from freshman linebacker Derek Ibekwe who led the team with 14 total tackles and half of a tackle for loss. Ibekwe showed great instincts against the run oriented offense of Cal Poly as he had five solo tackles and nine assisted tackles. Sophomore linebacker Rodney Butler was a force for the NM State defense as well as he piled up 11 total tackles and one tackle for loss in the first game of the season.
The NM State defensive performance against Cal Poly was one to remember as the six passing yards they allowed, currently ranks first in the NCAA. The dominating effort also ranks amongst the top in school history right behind the No. 1 performance when NM State held Lamar to zero yards passing on Nov. 4, 1972.
The last time the Aggies held a team to 10 points or fewer came against Alcorn State on Oct. 4, 2008, in a 45-10 win. NM State also held the Mustangs to only six yards passing, with the last time they accomplished that feat being in 2008 against San Jose State.
First Road Game of the Season and Conference Openers All-Time Record
After winning their season opener against Cal Poly 28-10 on Aug. 28, the 1-0 Aggies are looking towards not only their first away game of the season, but their conference opener as well against Georgia State on Sept. 6.
Starting with NM States first ever football game in 1984 with a loss to New Mexico, the Aggies have gone 31-73-6 in their first away game of the season since then. In 1932, the Aggies lost to Arizona in NM State’s first ever conference game, and are now 26-40-1 all-time in their conference openers throughout the years.
The Saturday game against Georgia State will be the Aggies first conference game since leaving the Western Athletic Conference in 2012. Georgia State will be playing its second season in the Sun Belt Conference game.
Aggies in NCAA Rankings
After NM State’s season-opening 28-10 win over Cal Poly, Aug. 28, the Aggies are at the top of the NCAA rankings in 10 categories. The Aggies move to 1-0 after the win.
1. Passing Yards Allowed (Yards Per Game)………..………. 6.0
T1. Sacks Allowed.……………………………………………………….. .00
T1. Red Zone Offense ………………………….................................. 1.000
2. Defensive Passing Efficiency……………………………………. 7.20
20. Scoring Defense (Points Allowed) ...................................... 10
T23. 3rd down conversion………………………………………….... .563
T23. First downs allowed……………………………………………. 14
29. Total Defense (Yards Per Game)……………........………….. 265
T43. Kickoff Return Defense (Average Yards Allowed…… 18.00
50. Average Time of Possession (Minutes)……………………. 30
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 are sophomore back Xavier Hall and senior Brandon Betancourt, assisted by incoming freshman Larry Rose.
Rose led the way for the Aggie backfield, recording 149 yards on 30 carries and scoring one touchdown. Rose also had four receptions for 13 yards and another touchdown. Hall had six carries for 22 yards and a touchdown, while Bettencourt ran seven times for 42 yards.
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). Versus No. 13 UCLA (Sept. 21) he rushed for 95 yards and one touchdown.
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 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.
Season Opener Rushing Performances
NM State began their season with an impressive 28-10 victory over Cal Poly. The Aggies’ defensive unit played a huge role in the victory by swarming to the ball and preventing Cal Poly from scoring any points in the second half of the game. The offense seemingly controlled the game from start to finish with a steady ground attack that led to 197 rushing yards and two touchdowns highlighted by the performance of freshman running back, Larry Rose III.
In his first game as an Aggie, Rose III rushed for more yards in a season opener than any former NM State player has in the past decade. He led the Aggies with 149 rushing yards while also finding his way into the end zone on two separate occasions by way of a six yard rush and a six yard reception. There has only been one other former NMSU player to rush for over 100 yards in a season opener within the past decade. Justine Buries rushed for 116 yards and a score against Southeastern Louisiana in the home opener of the 2006-07 season.
The most recent Aggie to rush for over 100 yards in a game was Germi Morrison who did so twice last year. The first performance came when he recorded a career-high 146 yards on 28 carries and two touchdowns against Abilene Christian on Oct. 26. In his final game as an Aggie, Morrison ran for 111 yards on 17 carries against Idaho on Nov. 13. Kenny Turner also rushed for 149 yards on 29 carries against Louisiana Tech on Nov. 26, 2011.
The last NM State player to gain 150 yards on the ground was Seth Smith who rushed for 157 yards against Prairie View A&M on Sept. 12, 2009.
Las Cruces Aggies in the Backfield
Sophomore Xavier Hall and senior Brandon Bettencourt both hail from Las Cruces, N.M., and are a just a few of the local talent playing a big role for the Aggies this season.
In the season opener against Cal Poly, Bettencourt, who played for Mayfield High School, had seven carries for 42 yards, with an average of six yards a carry and a long of 17 yards. Hall, who played for Las Cruces High School, had six carries for 22 yards, with a 3.7 yard-average, one touchdown and a long of 13 yards. The two Aggie running backs combined for almost one-fifth of NM State’s total offense against the Mustangs.
NM State Receivers are a Talented Bunch
NM State boasts a talented receiving core that features five of last years top six receivers led by seniors Jerrel Brown and Adam Shapiro. The Aggies tend to spread the wealth amongst the receiving core, which makes any receiver capable of being a threat to make a play. Of the five receivers who return from a year ago, each of those players appeared in every game last season. Each player also managed to catch at least 20 passes and gain at least 200 receiving yards a season ago.
Although the Aggies have a lot of experience among their receivers, they still are receiving production from their younger wideouts. Redshirt sophomore, Teldrick Morgan led the way for the Aggies in their season opener against Cal Poly on Aug. 28, where he recorded six receptions for 51 yards and caught the first touchdown of the season for the Aggies on the initial drive of the game. Redshirt freshman, Gregory Hogan served as the full-time punt returner and kick returner for the Aggies in the first game, which appears to be his role going forward.
NM State Showing its Youth
The Aggies opened up the season against Cal Poly on Aug. 28, with six freshman starters, two on offense and four on defense. Throughout the course of the game, 11 freshmen received playing time for the Aggies. Eight of the 11 freshmen who played in the season opener were true freshmen while the other three were redshirt freshmen.
True freshmen, Derek Ibekwe and Larry Rose III made the biggest impact of the freshmen in their first game with NM State. Ibekwe led the team with 14 tackles while Larry Rose III led the team with 149 rushing yards and two touchdowns.
Return of the Lefty
During the 2013 season, NM State was one of only two schools in the nation that boasted left footed kickers starting at both punter and place kicker. While punter Cayle Chapman-Brown has left the Aggies, kicker Maxwell Johnson is returning for his senior year.
In his 2014 season debut, Maxwell went 4-4 in PATs for a total of four points against the Cal Poly Mustangs on Aug. 28.
Johnson played in 12 games for the Aggies in 2013 as a place kicker, kicking 29-of-32 PATs, 10-of-12 field goal 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 thirty-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 4th quarter of a 34-29 victory over Abilene Christian.
In the 2014 season opener against Cal Poly, Aug. 28, Maxwell went a perfect 4-4 on PATs, for a total of four points.
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.
In the season opener against Cal Poly, Aug. 28, Ume played on all 75 snaps, recording five knockdowns and one pancake.
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 as well.
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.
Hall and Bettencourt combined for one touchdown and 64 yards on 13 carries in the season opener against Cal Poly, Aug. 28, while Bowen had one reception for six yards.
Aggies in the Sun Belt
After playing an independent schedule in 2013, the Aggies are now members of the Sun Belt Conference for the 2014 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 the2016 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 as the starting quarterback for the NM State Aggies for the 2014 season.
In his debut behind center, the sophomore quarterback went 18-for-27 for 158 yards and two touchdowns. With a pass completion rating off 66.7 percent and only one interception, Rogers had an efficiency rating of 132.86 against Cal Poly.
Rogers is a transfer sophomore who played one year at Arizona Western. 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
After the NM State football team defeated Cal Poly, 28-10, Aug. 28, it moved to 65-50-3 all-time during season openers. The Aggies now boast an impressive 57-20-1 record when opening their season in front of their home crowd.
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.
The Aggies will have a large void to fill after the departure of senior linebackers Trashaun Nixon and Bryan Bonilla who were second and third respectively for most tackles on the team last year. As a team, NM State recorded 47 tackles for loss a season ago. Nixon and Bonilla accounted for 19 of those 47 tackles for loss. Nixon also led the team with three sacks in his final season with the Aggies.
NM State will be expecting senior returning starter Clint Barnard to make a big impact on the field as he did a season ago. With a very young defense, Barnard will be leaned on for his veteran leadership throughout the course of the season. With 67 tackles last year, which was good for fourth on the team, Barnard will be wreaking havoc in a different way this year after making the move from linebacker to defensive end.
The linebacker position will be totally different from the core that took the field a year ago in terms of experience, but there will not be a drop off in talent. NM State is excited about two young linebackers who look to be cemented in the rotation. True freshman linebacker Derek Ibekwe is looking forward to making a difference for the Aggies after starring at Lamar Consolidated High School in Rosenberg, Texas. Sophomore linebacker Rodney Butler will also be a key factor for this defense after a solid freshman season where he spent time on special teams and finished the season with 39 tackles.
Aggie Underclassmen and Seniors on the Two-Deep
The Aggies rank No. 5 in the nation for most freshman and sophomores on the two-deep roster. Oklahoma State is first with 32 underclassmen in the rotation, followed by Colorado (29) and Utah, Pitt and Wake Forest all with 28.
The Aggies are tied with Texas A&M and place right above Arizona State, Florida and San Jose State all with 26 underclassmen.
NM State also ranks No. 5 in the Nation for fewest seniors in the rotation, with only nine seniors. The Aggies are tied with Washington State and USC, behind Pitt and Arizona State with eight seniors, Baylor (7) and Temple with six.
T8.San Jose State…………………26
Aggies from Across the US
NM State’s roster is full of players from across the country, with Aggies hailing from 14 different states.
California leads the way with 29 Aggies, followed by Texas (25) and New Mexico (20). There are over a dozen players from the local area, including the Las Cruces and Albuquerque areas in N.M., including Aggie standouts Xavier Hall (Las Cruces HS) and Brandon Bettencourt (Mayfield HS).
Players by State
Oregon, Nevada, Hawai’i ………………..……3 each
Alaska, Maryland, Florida ……………….......2 each
Georgia, Colorado, Ohio, Tennessee………1each
After going to Georgia State Sept. 6, the Aggies will head to UTEP for the I-10 rivalry. NM State is 35-54-2 against UTEP all time.
The first time the two teams met was in 1914, where the Aggies beat the Miners at home 19-0. The last time the two teams met was in 2013, where the Aggies fell at home to UTEP, 42-21. The last time the two teams tied was in 1952, 20-20.
Kickoff starts at 6 p.m. (MT) and will be covered on radio by KGRT 98.7 FM, and on TV by Sinclair Productions.