Detroit, Mich— Undefeated New Mexico State beat Bowling Green 24-19 in the Quick Lane Bowl in front of 22,987 fans at Ford Field in Detroit.
If Bowling Green would of connected on field goals of 51 and 41 yards in the first half, the outcome could of been completely different.
NMST quarterback Diego Pavia was surgeon in the first half, completing 11 of 18 pass attempts with two touchdowns. Pavia opened the scoring when hit Star Thomas at the 9:39 mark of the first quarter for a 15-yard touchdown.
Pavia was honored with Most Valuable Player Trophy from the Quick Lane Bowl. He finished the contest with 167 passings yards with a pair of touchdowns with 65 yards on the ground.
New Mexico State head coach Jerry Kill inserted in the starting lineup coming off a junior college national championship last year at New Mexico Military Institute. After a rough start, Pavia solidified the position with four wins as the starting signal caller late in the season to reach bowl eligibility for the second time since 1960.
“Well, it’s probably like game four or five I realized, I didn’t like where I was at. I didn’t like where I was at this time mentally, physically, and so really, it was just pulling myself together, getting everything right, trusting the person next to me, and once I did that, I felt like it would do anything. It was really just the connection between me and the receivers,” Pavia said. “Our defense played a hell of a game tonight, and our offense played great too, just upfront, they just did a tremendous job. Defense made huge plays every single time we needed the, so really when that happens, anything’s possible. I’ve just got to do my job.”
Following an Ethan Albertson 35-yard field goal, the Falcons returned the ensuing kickoff 75-yards for a touchdown.
NM State outgained Bowling Green 199-174 with Pavia pasing for 137 yards and two scores for a 14-0 Aggies halftime lead.
It was the first time this season, the Aggies held an FBS opponent scoreless in the opening half. Trevor Brohard got NMST going with an pick on Bowling Green’s opening drive. In his final game, the interception was Brohard’s first of his stellar five-year career.
The Aggies smashed another 35-yard field goal by Albertson on their first possession of the second half for a 17-0 advantage. Jonathan Brady took a reverse 37-yards to the Bowling Green 35-yard to set the Aggies up.
Bowling Green answered with a 75-yard kickoff return on a short kick for the Falcons first points of the contest to make it 17-7.
The Aggies went up 24-7 on a 45-yard Ahmonte Watkins (nine carries, 76 yards) touchdown run up the gut as the Aggies finished with 240 rushing yards. Pavia hit Kordell David (five receptions, 54 yards) for a six-yard slant on a third and five to the Bowling Green 44-yard line.
Hanging on to a 24-19 lead with 6:27 left in the game and starting at the NM State 25- yard line, Pavia had third down runs of nine and ten yards to extend the drives and made Bowling Green used their two timeouts. NM State was 11-for-17 on third down and Pavia sealed the game with a six-yard run up the middle on a third and two to capped it off. It is the Aggies fourth bowl win in school history. The Aggies are undefeated in bowl games with a 4-0-1 record all-time.
“When everything broke down, it’s make a play when it comes down to those things, I want the ball in my hands and I feel like we were successful tonight on it,” Pavia said.
Bowling Green’s fortune changed immediately in the first half, when QB Matt McDonald was forced to leave the game after NM State safety Dylan Early hit him late out of bounds on a scramble along the Falcons sideline.
McDonald didn’t return and Camden Orth replaced him. Orth entered the game with 35 pass attempts on the season and he finished 14 for 22 for 191 yards and a touchdown against the Aggies. But Bowling Green didn’t look in sync on the offensive side of the ball with Orth behind the center calling out the signals.
“It’s crazy that’s how it went down, but when we were scheming up for them, we weren’t really focusing on players and personnel,” Aggies senior safety Bryce Jackson said. “We are just focused on ourselves and making sure we play to our ability and all of the principles and foundations of this defense.”
NMST managed to pick up a few first downs to keep the clock moving and forced Bowling Green to burn timeouts. With time ticking down, the Aggies continued to drive down the field before Pavia took a knee with 31 seconds left to run the clock out, leaving the Aggies dancing on the sidelines.