The first half of Saturday's New Mexico State vs. Louisiana-Lafayette game was nothing short of astounding.
The Aggies entered the game as nearly 30-point underdogs, only to score on their first four possessions of the game to take a 28-7 lead, and an eventual 28-14 advantage into halftime. In short, they looked like an entirely different team.
NMSU would in fact eventually fall 49-35 to a superior opponent, but it was also clearly the best game the team's played this season.
Lafayette is a very good team - NMSU head coach Doug Martin said throughout the week the Ragin' Cajuns will likely win the Sun Belt Conference championship - and the Aggies competed with them and played tough.
Offensively, the Aggies did about as much as they could. Quarterback Andrew McDonald played very well (24 of 34 passing, 327 yards, three touchdowns and an interception. He also ran for a TD); the team, despite being without injured running backs Brandon Betancourt and Germi Morrison, was able to generate a rushing attack. NMSU ran Travaughn Colwell out of the wildcat formation, as well as standout wide receiver Austin Franklin. In total, the team ran for 120 yards on 42 carries. And, Franklin continued to show his skills as the team's true gamebreaker offensively (12 catches, 140 yards and two touchdowns). The 35 points scored were a season high, and the most the Aggies have put up since August of 2012.
Still, the team hasn't seemed to win a second half all season and Saturday was no different. The Ragin' Cajuns outscored NMSU 35-7 in the final two quarters of play, as surely they woke up following the early deficit. This year, the Aggies have been outscored 212-64 during the third and fourth quarters of games, including contests against Texas (42-0), Louisiana-Lafayette (35-0), San Diego State (21-0), New Mexico (24-3), UCLA (28-13), UTEP (21-7) and Rice (17-7).
The team also remains last in the FBS in scoring defense (46.2 points per game), total defense (555 yards per game) and rush defense (312 yards per game). While NMSU needs help in all three phases, this is clearly an area that needs to get rectified first and foremost.
It won't get any easier for the Aggies this Saturday, who host a much-improved Boston College team. The Eagles stand at 4-4 on the year, and are coming off a big 34-27 home win this past weekend over Virginia Tech.
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