Sunday, September 9, 2012
Recapping the Aggies loss to Ohio
The first half was encouraging.
The third quarter was an abomination.
And such a turn of events boiled down to a 51-24 road loss for the New Mexico State Aggies against the Ohio Bobcats.
NMSU did some good things during the first two quarters of football Saturday night.
To recap: After the first Bobcats drive it looked like things could get ugly right off the bat. Ohio's receivers were wide open in the passing game and it simply looked too easy after quarterback Tyler Tettleton took in a touchdown from 6-yards out. An ominous sign to start things off.
But to the Aggies credit, they responded. Their next drive was well-played — an 11-play, 75-yard march where the play calling was effective and the running game was established. Tiger Powell rushed six times for 26 yards and a two-yard touchdown to tie the score at 7-7.
While Ohio running back Beau Blankenship had a good game — he's a tough runner who had 164 yards on the evening, 138 of which came in the opening two quarters — the Aggie secondary covered better for the remainder of the first half.
Ohio wide receiver Donte Foster made a great catch over Darien Johnson to put Ohio ahead 14-7 — nothing a cornerback really can do on on a play like that — and NMSU blocked a field goal to close out the first half on a high note, down just 21-14 to a very solid Ohio football team.
Bu the Aggies couldn't build on such prosperity.
Ohio outscored New Mexico State 24-10 in the third quarter — after NMSU forced a three-and-out to begin the period, the Aggies got good field position and kicked a field goal to cut the deficit to 21-17. After that, the game got blown open.
There were two passes that didn't go the Aggies way. The first was when, down 24-17, Andrew Manley overthrew an open Kemonte Bateman streaking down the middle of the field. If Bateman is hit in stride, the score is likely tied. The second was a Manley interception that was returned 22 yards by Ohio's Nate Carpenter for a touchdown, putting the Bobcats ahead 38-17 midway through the third. It just felt like that play was a back-breaker for NMSU.
Defensively, two pass interference penalties stood out during the quarter also. One, on third down deep inside Aggie territory, kept an Ohio drive alive that the Bobcats eventually scored a TD on to go ahead 31-17.
Last week the third quarter didn't treat the Aggies kindly — Sacramento State outscored New Mexico State 9-0 in the period and generally outplayed the Aggies in that portion of the game. Really, if NMSU eliminated that period, it's an even better contest against the Hornets.
We broke down much of what happened last night in the above portion of this blog entry. Another stat: NMSU gained 16 yards total in the third quarter. The team also completed just five passes in the second half.
The Aggies need to play complete games — last year that was something head coach DeWayne Walker preached throughout pre-season and in the early portion of the year. The team did just that in their 28-21 win over Minnesota — leading from start to finish, playing tough. It doesn't mean they have to play perfect football. Just four quarters of football. And it needs to start next weekend at UTEP.
The Aggie rushing attack was better this week, getting 53 yards on 18 carries in the first half. Powell started for Robert Clay who didn't make the trip due to a concussion suffered last weekend, and Germi Morrison was also involved.
Ohio elected to rush their defensive ends aggressively upfield in an attempt to take away the Aggies play-action, bootleg passing game — NMSU's bread and butter. In this respect, it worked — think back to when Manley would execute the play-action fake, turn around and a Bobcats defender was right there in his face. But such a strategy does open rushing lanes up front which benefited the Aggies ground attack.
Akeelie Mustafa returned a kickoff 91 yards for a touchdown in the third quarter to make the score 45-24.
The tight end position was held without a catch. That's two-straight weeks to start the season that the unit hasn't recorded a reception.
Desmond Anaya had a fumble recovery, his second in two weeks.
The defensive end, a Roswell, NM, native, has been somewhat of a surprise in the early season. He certainly has gotten playing time and his name has shown up.
Some very interesting scores from Week 2, locally and beyond.
Sacramento State, which lost at NMSU 49-19 in Week 1, went on to beat Colorado in Boulder, Colo., 30-28.
UTEP lost at Ole Miss 28-10, while New Mexico lost at Texas 45-0.
In the WAC, Louisiana Tech beat Houston 56-49; San Jose State beat UC Davis 45-13; Texas State lost to Texas Tech 58-10; Texas San-Antonio beat Texas A&M-Commerce 27-16; Idaho lost at Bowling Green 21-13; On Friday night, Utah State beat Utah 27-20.
The biggest upset of the weekend nationally came when Louisiana-Monroe won at Arkansas 34-31 in overtime.
The Aggies will have a HUGE GAME this upcoming weekend when they travel to El Paso to take on rival UTEP. We've been saying on the Cruces Sports Blog all fall that NMSU has to sweep its rivals this year, and UTEP obviously is one of them. The Miners have beaten the Aggies three-straight years, including last season when NMSU really should have won the game, but didn't (special teams and a key goal-line fumble early hurt the Aggies in that one). At 0-2 on the season, we know UTEP will come in hungry for a win. A game of critical importance.
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