LAS CRUCES, N.M. – The New Mexico State football team dropped its home opener 44-21 to the Minnesota Golden Gophers on Saturday, Sept. 7, at Aggie Memorial Stadium.
The Aggies (0-2) collected 253 passing yards with senior quarterback Andrew McDonald leading the way with 186 yards on 22-of-31 passing. Senior running back Germi Morrison directed the ground attack with a pair of rushing touchdowns. Defensively, senior safety Davis Cazares and senior linebacker Trashaun Nixon both recorded a game-high 11 tackles.
The Aggies went three-and-out on the first drive against the Golden Gophers (2-0), but the Aggie defense caused the same situation for the Minnesota offense on its opening drive. After one more drive from each team, senior defensive end Willie Mobley recorded his first quarterback sack as an Aggie, pushing Minnesota back to a third-and-16.
That did not stop the Gophers as the team was close enough to kick a 45-yard field goal for a 3-0 lead over the Aggies with 7:29 on the clock. Both offenses stalled on the next three drives until Minnesota started its last drive of the first quarter at its own 48. Quarterback Philip Nelson threw the ball for a 48-yard pass to Derrick Engel for a first down. The Aggies stopped the Gophers to bring up third-and-five at the end of the first quarter.
The second quarter opened with an incomplete pass by the Gophers before kicking a 22-yard field goal to increase the score to 6-0 with 14:50 to go in the second quarter.
With the Aggies taking over on their own 18 yard line, McDonald was sacked for a loss of eight yards. Junior punter Cayle Chapman-Brown came in for a career-long 73 yard punt for the Aggies, forcing Minnesota to take over at its own six yard line.
Minnesota worked for a 94 yard gain, resulting in its first touchdown of the game, a 14-yard touchdown rush for a 13-0 lead with 8:42 left in the half.
NM State came back after the touchdown for a 33-yard pass from McDonald to junior wide receiver Joseph Matthews. The Aggies continued to move the chains with an eight-yard rush by wide receiver junior wide receiver Jordan Bergstrom before a 12-yard gain, moving the ball to the two-yard line. NM State found its way into the end zone with a one-yard gain from junior running back Brandon Betancourt, marking his first career touchdown as an Aggie.
The Gophers worked for a 72-yard drive after the kickoff for a touchdown of their own, but not before NM State’s Nixon forced a fumble that was recovered by the Golden Gophers inside their own end zone for its second touchdown of the game, moving the score to 20-7 with 2:38 to play in the half.
The Aggies went three-and-out after the Gopher touchdown and Chapman-Brown punted the ball 44 yards back to Minnesota’s Marcus Jones, who ran it back for a 65-yard touchdown.
NM State ended the half with a couple of short passes from McDonald for a pair of first downs and the ball sitting on the Aggie 44-yard line as the clock ran out on the half.
The second half opened with a 65-yards gain by the Gophers that resulted in a 27-yard field goal. The Aggies answered back with a 72-yard drive bringing NM State to the one-yard line before McDonald handed off to Morrison, who ran it in for the Aggies second touchdown of the game.
The fourth quarter kicked off with senior Kevin Laudermill grabbing his first career interception, good for the fourth Aggie interception of the season. The Aggies began their drive on the Minnesota 34-yard line, but came up short of a first down, turning the ball back over to the Gophers on their own 10-yard line with 12:48 left in the game.
Minnesota drove the ball into the end zone on a one-yard rush for a 37-14 lead over the Aggies after a 90-yard drive. The Golden Gophers came up with a fumble recovery for a 50-yard run and a touchdown with 5:49 on the clock.
The Aggies made their last effort in the final minutes of the game with a 75-yard drive resulting in their third one-yard rushing touchdown of the game.
The Aggies continue at home with the Battle of I-10 Rivalry game versus UTEP on Saturday, Sept. 14, at Aggie Memorial Stadium, at 6 p.m.