On defense, the Aggies didn't fair much better. The running back tandem of D.D. Cox and Dontrell Moore ran for a combined 202 yards. Lobo QB Kole McKamey added another 54. It was as if the Lobos told the Aggies "Hey we're running the ball, see if you can stop us." Unfortunately for the Aggies, they couldn't. The running game for the Lobos was working so well that McKamey only attempted 12 passes all game.
The lone bright spot for the Aggies was Shukree Shabazz's interception in the first quarter of a Kole McKamey pass intended for Hank Baskett in the Aggie end zone. That interception prevented the Lobos from going up 14-0 in the first quarter. Aggie fans hoping for that to be the spark the Aggies needed were instead left disappointed as the Aggie offense promptly went 3 and out.
The Aggies also had two turnovers, both in the 3rd quarter, an interception thown by Buck Pierce and a fumble on an option exchange between Paul Dombowski and Justine Buries. The Lobos turned both of those turnovers into touchdowns.
The pick thrown by Piece was especially costly because at that point the Aggies were only down 17-0 and had they been able to put any points on the board, would have been right back in the game. Instead the Lobos took advantage of the short field and took a 24-0 lead and effectively put the Aggies out of the game.
The Aggies committed 10 penalties for 112 yards. The special teams committed two kick catch interference penalties, including one that knocked Lobo RB Dontrell Moore out of the game in the third quarter. Late in the fourth quarter the Aggies committed what can only be called frustration penalties. One was a personal foul face mask and the other was an unsportsmanlike conduct penalties.
The penalties combined for 30 yards and moved the Lobos well into the Aggie side of the field as time ran down. The Lobos would go on to miss the field goal attempt on their final drive but it didn't much matter as the game had already been decided.
The Aggies must put this game behind them because they travel southward to El Paso on Saturday to take on a UTEP team that is improving with each game. Add to that the fact that this is a rivalry game and also a designated conference game for NMSU and that UTEP will be out to avenge the 49-14 thumping of the Miners in 2002, the Aggies must focus. They cannot afford to lose this game as it could spell the end of any hopes for the Sun Belt conference championship.
Of course this loss will hurt and as an Aggie alumnus I never like to lose to the Lobos, but in the grand scheme of things, the only thing this loss does is hurt our pride. We're still in the race for the conference championship but must play with the same kind of intensity as we did against Troy and not like we did against UNM. The Aggies appeared to be unprepared which is unacceptable at this point in the season.
There is now no margin for error. The next three games will shape our season. The Aggies travel to El Paso to take on a UTEP team that is improving, they're then home against a UL-Lafayette team that marched into Murfreesborough and left with a win against Middle Tennessee St and then travel to Denton to take on a North Texas team that is reeling. The Aggies must win out if they want to win the conference championship.