Aggies Lose Tough One To North Texas

For the fourth consecutive season, the New Mexico State - North Texas game came down to the fourth quarter and for the fourth consecutive year, the Mean Green came through.

Questionable playcalling, horrid special teams play, and poor tackling in the fourth quarter most likely cost the Aggies a shot at the Sun Belt Conference title. The Aggies fell behind 2-0 early in the first quarter and were forced to play catch-up the rest of the game.

Following a punt by the Aggies on their first drive, North Texas was forced to punt but pinned NMSU on their own 1-yard line. On the next play UNT stopped an NMSU run up the middle and recorded a safety to put the Mean Green up 2-0. UNT would go up 9-0 on a 47-yard pass from Scott Hall to Johnny Quinn (who was dubbed "The Amazing Quinn" by the ESPN Plus announcers). The Aggies would answer with a 7 play 69 drive capped by an excellent play fake as Buck Pierce threw a 2-yard pass to a wide open David Romaka. The drive also featured a 41 yard run by FB Clint Jones.

The Aggies and Mean Green played a scoreless 2nd quarter, trading punts and field position. The Mean Green drove down to the Aggie 22 on the final drive of the 2nd quarter and would have scored if not for a comedy of errors by their offense. A holding penalty followed by a pass interference penalty pushed UNT back to their own 44 yard line.

UNT returned the opening kick of the second half to their own 49 yard line and followed that up with a 5 play 51 yard drive which resulted in a touchdown to put the Mean Green up 16-7. The Aggies would be forced to punt on their next drive but had the punt blocked. The Mean Green would capitalize and score their second touchdown of the half to open up a 23-7 lead.

The Aggie offense finally woke up and answered with a 14 play 63 yard touchdown drive. They would convert a two point attempt and were only down 23-15.

Following an ill-timed onside kick attempt which the Mean Green would recover, UNT answered right back with a field goal to put them up 26-15. The Aggies would get a field goal on their next drive to pull back within 8. On the next drive, UNT's kicker Nick Bazaldua would kick a 51 yard field goal to put UNT back up by 11. The Aggies then drove 65 yards on 11 plays and scored their final touchdown of the night. A two point conversion made the score 29-26 in favor of UNT.

After holding the Mean Green to a minimal gain on the first down, freshman running back Jamario Thomas broke a 77 yard run and in the process broke the back of the Aggies. The Mean Green would go on to score a touchdown to put them up 36-26. The Aggies would put together one final drive but a missed field goal sealed the Aggies' fate.

The loss gives NMSU two conference losses on the season and effectively puts them out of the race for the championship. North Texas won their 21st conference game in a row and are firmly in the driver's seat for their 4th conference championship in a row. UNT's 21 consecutive conference wins are second only to the Boise St. Broncos who, with their win over Fresno St. on Saturday night, have won 22 consecutive conference games. The Aggies and Broncos were conference rivals in the Big West and next season they will be reunited in the WAC.

Lack of a rushing attack was again a major factor in the Aggies' loss Saturday night. The Aggies only gained 105 yards on the ground with 41 of those yards coming on the 41 yard scamper by FB Clint Jones in the first half. The Aggies gave up 262 rushing yards on the night. The Aggies had no turnovers on the night and were penalized 9 times for 67 yards. The Mean Green also had no turnovers but were penalized 9 times for 117 yards.

Up next for the Aggies is their homecoming game against Florida International. It will be interesting to see how the Aggies play out their final 4 games of the season. The Aggies can still finish with a winning record but only if they win all of their remaining games.

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