LAS CRUCES, N.M. – 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.
“Agriculture is integral to New Mexico and therefore to NMSU, historically and as its mission has evolved over the decades,” said Dr. Lowell Catlett, dean of NM State’s College of Agricultural, Consumer, and Environmental Sciences (ACES). “There’s a tremendous relationship that exists between NMSU and the state’s agricultural community, and this event really highlights that relationship.”
Another important part of Agriculture Day is the food drive that will be hosted onsite. Roadrunner Food Bank – which feeds nearly 40,000 hungry New Mexicans a week through its partner agencies across the state – will be there with a refrigerated truck to collect all sorts of food and beverage donations. Meanwhile, Dairy MAX – which represents dairy farmers in New Mexico and three other states – will be collecting monetary donations by text to its “Great American Milk Drive” program. Any Milk Drive monies collected during Ag Day will stay in Las Cruces to provide fresh dairy products to hungry people served by area food banks. People donating to the drives will be entered to win prizes.
NM State finished the season with a 2-10 overall record in 2013 as a NCAA independent after being a part of the Western Athletic Conference for the prior seven years. This year, the Aggies will look to improve as they begin their first season as a member of the Sun Belt Conference.
Youth is present all over this year’s squad with nearly 70 percent of the team consisting of underclassmen. With so many different faces on both sides of the ball, the Aggies will lean on their veterans for consistent production throughout the season. Senior tailback and Las Cruces native Brandon Betancourt will be back for his final season with the Aggies following a junior campaign where he finished as the second-leading rusher on the team with 415 yards.
Sophomore running back and Las Cruces native as well, Xavier Hall, will also be counted on for production in the backfield after an impressive freshman season where he tied for second on the team with two rushing touchdowns. The receiving core also appears to be strong as the Aggies return four of their top-five receivers from a year ago.
Senior linebacker Clint Barnard, of Melrose. N.M., will be counted on to lead a very young defense as the leading returning tackler from last year. Sophomore defensive back Kawe Johnson also returns to the secondary after a freshman campaign where he saw substantial playing time while finishing with two interceptions, which tied for first on the team. Senior defensive back Travaughn Colwell also looks to be in the rotation after making the move from offense to defense.
The Aggies have faced Cal Poly on three occasions prior to this upcoming meeting. On the series, the Mustangs are currently 3-0 against the Aggies with their last victory coming in 1997. Last season Cal Poly finished their season with an overall record of 6-6 and a 5-3 record in conference play. The Mustangs rely very heavily upon their run attack as they ran the ball 680 times for 3,710 yards, compared to only 232 passing attempts for 1,614 yards in 2013. The game will be aired on AggieVision and ESPN3.com, as well as Aggie Access.
Tickets to the game start at $10, while youth tickets for kids 12 and under are just $5 and include a free hot dog and soda from Sodexo Dining Services. Tickets go on sale Aug. 21 at the Pan American Center ticket office and will also be sold on the day of the game. Season tickets are also available now starting at $50, which includes six home games. For ticket information contact the Pan American Center ticket office at 575-646-1420 or for more information about NM State football, please visit www.NMStateSports.com.