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Aggies come back, hold on, to defeat La Tech


Tuesday night, after NM State defeated Louisiana Tech 27-24 in Ruston, Louisiana, the Aggies partied like it was 2002.

That was the last year NM State football won four consecutive games.

All four of those victories have come in Conference USA games, and moved the Aggies’ record to 6-3 overall, and 4-1 in the conference.

Early on, it didn’t look like NM State had a great shot at the victory.

The Bulldogs opened a 16-3 lead late in the second quarter, and were having their way with the Aggies, using an up-tempo offense.

But late in the first half, the Aggies put together an effective offensive drive, going 75 yards in eight plays, capped with a 19-yard touchdown run by quarterback Diego Pavia, bringing the score to 16-7 with 1:51 left in the half.

The second half was a different story, as the Aggies scored three straight touchdowns, and the NM State defense held La Tech to one touchdown in the third quarter. But that touchdown, plus the Bulldogs’ successful two-point conversion tied the game at 24 as the third quarter came to an end.

The game stayed tied for most of the fourth quarter, until Aggie kicker Ethan Albertson culminated a 10-play, 81-yard drive with a 31-yard field goal to put NM State ahead 27-24. The Aggie defense held the rest of the way, with a couple of impressive stops, and the score stayed the same.

The Aggies have just two home games left, both on Saturdays in November: a 4 p.m. start against Middle Tennessee for Homecoming Nov. 4, and a 2 p.m. start against Jacksonville State Nov. 25. Those are both conference games. The Aggies have another conference game Nov. 11 at Western Kentucky, and a non-conference game on the road at Auburn Nov. 18.

The Aggies need just one more victory to become bowl-eligible.

NMSU is currently tied with Jacksonville State for second place in Conference USA, with a 4-1 mark. Liberty, at 6-0 in conference, is in first place. A Conference USA championship game is scheduled for Dec. 1, hosted by the league’s highest seed.

The conference champion could have a shot at the Fiesta Bowl, Cotton Bowl or Chik-fil-A Peach Bowl.

Conference USA also has a tie-in with the New Mexico Bowl, which will be played Saturday, Dec. 16, in Albuquerque. Obviously, a lot of things can happen between now and then, but Athlon Sports, in its Oct. 22 bowl projections report, listed New Mexico State and Boise State as its likely New Mexico Bowl showdown.

Other bowls where Conference USA have a primary selection are the Bahamas Bowl; the Armed Forces Bowl in Fort Worth, Texas; the New Orleans Bowl; and the Independence Bowl in Shreveport, Louisiana.