Few Aggie quarterbacks have ever posted the kind of numbers that Paul Dombrowski (Hesperia, Calif./Sultana HS) has and he's just a freshman. Dombrowski capped his amazing 2002 campaign by completing 9 of 13 passes for 185 yards and rushing for a team high 109 yards on 20 carries and 3 touchdowns in the win over Idaho.
His 294 yards of total offense was a season high and he was rewarded by being named the Sun Belt Conference Offensive Player of the Week. It's his second selection this year. He won the award earlier this season after leading the Aggies to a 24-21 victory over Middle Tennessee back on November 2.
It's the third time the Aggies have won the offensive player of the week award, the most in the league this year.
It marked the 6th time in the last 7 games that Dombrowski had totaled at least 215 yards in total offense. Over the final 7 games of the season, Dombrowski averaged 240.2 yards per game of total offense, 152.9 yards per game through the air and 87.3 yards per game on the ground, had 3 100-yard or better rushing games, scored 10 rushing touchdowns and completed 67 percent of his passes.
His 10 rushing touchdowns and 868 rushing yards are school records for Aggie quarterbacks. He scored nearly half of the team's rushing touchdowns (48%), threw more than half of the team's touchdown passes (54%) and completed 60% of his passes for the season.
Dombrowski did all this despite playing just one series against South Carolina in the season opener, 4 series against Cal and splitting time equally with Buck Pierce in the UTEP game.
His 2,195 yards of total offense were the most for an Aggie player since K.C. Enzminger had 2,236 yards in 1999. He became just the second player in Aggie history to lead the team in both rushing and passing. The only other player to pull off that feat was Rick Horacek in 1977 when he passes for 1,111 yards and rushed for 423 yards.
His pass efficiency rating of 138.9 is the third highest in school history.
Another Fourth Quarter Comeback
Saturday's 35-31 win at Idaho marked the third time this year the Aggies had rallied from a fourth quarter deficit for a victory. The Aggies trailed 31-28 heading into the final period before Paul Dombrowski scored the go-ahead touchdown with 3:28 left in the game and Siddeeq Shabazz sealed the victory with an interception at the Aggie 19 yard line with 1:45 remaining. The Aggies rallied from a 14-10 fourth quarter deficit to beat Middle Tennessee 24-21 back on November 2 and rallied from a 21-20 fourth quarter deficit to beat UL Lafayette 31-28 on October 12.
Both of the previous fourth quarter rallies came at home. It marked the Aggies first victory after rallying from a fourth quarter deficit on the road since rallying from a 34-33 fourth quarter deficit to beat UL Lafayette 49-46 on November 17, 2001.
The Aggies outscored their opponents 89-85 in the fourth quarter this year after being outscored 116-81 in the fourth quarter last year. It marked the first time since the 1995 season that the Aggies had outscored their opponents in the fourth quarter.
Saturday against Idaho, the Aggies scored the only points of the quarter, controlled the clock for six more minutes than Idaho and outgained the Vandals 131 to 61
Two Quarterback System Works To Perfection - Pierce Breaks Two School Records
There is no quarterback controversy at New Mexico State. Two are better than one. Dombrowski and sophomore Buck Pierce (Hesperia, Calif./Del Norte HS) led the Aggie offense to one of its more efficient seasons ever.
New Mexico State completed 61.2% of its passes this season, breaking the old record of 57.3% set in 1995. The Aggies threw just 6 interceptions all season, the fewest since 1999 when the Aggies threw just 5.
Buck Pierce broke the school record for passing efficiency this year with a 154.6 rating. He completed 63.6% of his passes, tying the school record set in Charles Puleri in 1991. Amazingly, the two nearly had identical passing statistics. Pierce completed 68 of 107 passes for 949 yards with just 1 interception while throwing 6 touchdown passes. Puleri also completed 68 of 107 passes for 846 yards, but with 2 interceptions and 5 touchdowns, allowing Pierce to break his single season passing efficiency rating
Briscoe Goes Out With A Bang
H.B. Briscoe (Daly City, Calif./Archbishop Riordan HS) didn't burn out and fade away; he left a mark down the stretch of his final season as an Aggie.
The senior wide receiver caught a career high 9 passes for a career best 154 yards in the Aggies win over Idaho. It was his 3rd consecutive 100-yard game of the season and his 4th overall in 2002. The 154 yards receiving is the 18th best single game total in Aggie history and the most for an Aggie receiver since Ryan Shaw caught 8 passes for 187 yards against Nevada in 1999.
He finished the year with 50 receptions for 880 yards; a 17.6 yards per catch average and 5 touchdowns. His 4, 100-yard plus receiving games were the most in a season for an Aggie since Shaw had 4 in 1999. His 868 receiving yards and 50 receptions, accomplished in 11 games due to missing 1 game due to an injury, are the most for an Aggie receiver since 1996 when Duane Gregory caught 68 passes for 890 yards.
Over his final 5games, Briscoe caught 26 passes for 507 yards and 5 scores
Aggies Show Big Play Ability
Over the last few years, New Mexico State has shown the ability to make big plays, but most of the time it has happened in the running game. This year the passing game has churned out some long gainers.
In Saturday's win over Idaho, the Aggies had 3 pass receptions of 50 yards or better. New Mexico State averaged 18 yards per reception.
For the season, the Aggie passing attack registered 14 plays of 35 yards or more while last year's team had just 3 pass plays of 35 yards or more. Last year New Mexico State had a receiver go over the 100-yard receiving mark just once all season, this year the Aggies accomplished that 6 times with 3 different receivers (4, Briscoe, 1, Winston, 1 Jenkins).
Cottrell Reaches The Century Mark - Solid Linebacking Corps Returns Redshirt freshman linebacker Jimmy Cottrell (Castle Rock, Colo./Douglas County HS) had 7 tackles including 1 for a loss in the win over Idaho. That gave him 102 total tackles for the season, making him the first freshman to lead the Aggies in tackles since D'Wayne Taylor in 1998 and the first to register 100 tackles in a season since Don Stowers who had 114 in 1990
Cottrell is part of a trio of starting linebackers that all return next season. Sophomore Richard Glover (Las Cruces, NM/Onate HS), who had 13 tackles against Idaho, finished second on the team in total tackles with 95 and led the team in tackles per game (8.6). Junior Tim Patrick (Phoenix, Ariz./North Canyon HS), who finished 5th on the team in total tackles with 63, led the team in quarterback sacks with 4.5, also returns.
Winston Finishes High In Aggie Rankings
P.J. Winston (Commerce, Texas/Commerce HS) didn't have a 100-yard receiving effort in his final career game, but he did grab 5 passes for 64 yards and a touchdown.
His 12th career touchdown reception put him in a 4-way tie for 7th in career touchdown receptions with Duriel Harris (1972-75), Bob Kelly (1957-60) and Bobby Humphery (1979-82). He caught passes in 27 of his last 29 games.
Winston's 1,724 career receiving yards place him 6th in career receiving yards. His 119 career receptions rank 5th in Aggie history. He also finished with 2,692 career all-purpose yards and led the Aggies in all-purpose yards this season with 1,077. He is the first Aggie wide receiver to lead the team in all-purpose yards since Ryan Shaw in 1999.
Senior Safeties Finish With A Bang
The Aggies will graduate their entire starting secondary including safeties Siddeeq Shabazz (Chaparral, N.M./Gadsden HS) and Tyrone Gifford (Lincoln, Neb./Southeast HS). The two made major contributions to the Aggie victory over Idaho Saturday.
Shabazz had 10 total tackles, one quarterback sack, one forced fumble and intercepted a pass at the Aggie 19-yard line with 1:45 left in the game to clinch the victory. Gifford had 4 tackles and intercepted a Vandal pass on the Aggie 5-yard line early in the third quarter with New Mexico State trailing 24-17.
The duo combined for 422 career tackles and 9 interceptions in their careers and started every game the past 2 years.
Shabazz, a first team all-Sun Belt Conference pick last year and a 2-time Verizon Academic All-District VI pick, finished with 253 career tackles while Gifford has 189 career tackles and 457 career punt return yards, fourth on the Aggie all-time list.
Senior safety Tyrone Gifford intercepted his 5th career pass in the win over Idaho. He also finished fourth in career punt return yards with 457.