Aggies roll on Senior Day

The New Mexico State Aggies sent their 18 seniors out in style by routing the Blue Raiders 44-10 at Aggie Memorial Stadium.

It came as no surprise that New Mexico State had another big offensive game Saturday night.

But this time the defense chipped in with a big performance and the result was a 44-10 win for NMSU against Middle Tennessee at Aggie Memorial Stadium.

The Aggies had 606 yards of total offense, 306 passing by Buck Pierce and 85 yards rushing by Muammar Ali. New Mexico State also had 31 first downs and 37:20 of possesion time.

The Aggie defense held Middle Tennessee to just 151 yards of total offense and no points in the second half. New Mexico State also forced four turnovers.

"Our defensive backs and linebackers really did a nice job," Aggie head coach Tony Samuel said. "We played hard and physical." Middle Tennessee was held to minus-28 yards of offense in the second half.

Middle Tennessee quarterback Clint Marks, who had completed 74.3 percent of passes entering the game, was 14 of 28 for 124 yards and two picks. The Aggies also held receiver Kerry Wright to just two catches for three yards. Wright had 63 catches entering Saturday's game.

"We knew how explosive Kerry Wright could be," Samuel said. "But we did a great job against him and we limited the big plays. Our pass defense was excellent. We got some pressure on the quarterback and that was the key."

New Mexico State, which went 4-1 at home this year, improves to 4-5 overall and 3-2 in the Sun Belt. Middle Tennessee falls to 4-5 and 3-3. The Aggies have scored 100 points in the last two games and gained 1,252 total yards. Pierce has thrown for 1,184 yards in the last four games.

"We played well all the way around tonight," said Pierce, who played his final home game Saturday. "The offensive line protected well, the receivers caught a lot of big passes."

Former Mayfield receiver Tim Tolbert led the way for the Aggie receivers. He caught for passes for 78 yards.

New Mexico State took control of the game in the third quarter scoring 17 points to take a 27-10 lead going into the fourth quarter.

Linebacker Dustin Sober intercepted the second of his two interceptions on the first possesion of the second half at the Blue Raider 38. He also had a sack in the second half. Middle Tennessee had no first downs in the third quarter.

The Aggies got to the Middle Tennessee 5-yard line, but had to settle for a Ryan Guardia 22-yard field goal and a 20-10 lead. Guardia hit 3 of 4 field goals on the night.

Middle Tennessee went three and out on its next drive and NMSU took advantage. The Aggies went 63 yards on five plays, capped by an Ali 1-yard scoring run.

The big play on the drive was a 34-yard pass from Paul Dombrowski to Jared Quick down to the 1-yard line. Dombrowski also caught three balls on the night for 34 yards.

The Aggies led 17-10 at half, but two turnovers and a missed field goal cost them a chance at more points. One of the turnovers was inside the Blue Raider 30 and the other was near midfield, while Guardia missed a 40-yard field goal.

One of NMSU's turnovers led to a Middle Tennessee score.

The Aggies scored all 17 of their first-half points in the second quarter.

The first score came on some trickery as receiver Kenneth Buckley took an end around from Pierce and threw an 18-yard touchdown pass to tight end Travis Samuel. After a Guardia extra point, the Aggies led 7-3.

On the ensuing drive by the Blue Raiders, the Aggie defense help set up NMSU's next score.

A Marks pass intended for Pierre Ingram went off his hands and into Aggie linebacker Sober's hands.

"Tony Gianquento made a good hit on the ball and it just popped into my hands," Sober said.

The Aggies got the ball at Middle's 43 yards line and five plays later Pierce found Quick for a 32-yard scoring strike and a 14-3 Aggie lead. Quick made a nice move at the Blue Raider five to scoot past defender Roy Polite.

The Blue Raiders came back and cut the lead to 14-10 on a 7-yard touchdown pass from Marks to Nick McAfee with 6:02 left in the opening half.

The score came after Pierce's fumble at the NMSU 49.

But the Aggies came back to score with 1:55 left for the final first half margin as Guardian nailed 37-yard field goal.

On the drive, Pierce hit Brandon Allen with a 33-yard pass and ran for 17 yards on a scramble. The Aggies also benefited on a 15-yard roughing the passer call.

Pierce finished the first half 11 of 18 for 142 yards. New Mexico State outgained the Blue Raiders 316-179 in the opening 30 minutes. New Mexico State is at Florida Atlantic Saturday at 2p.m.

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