New Mexico State Downs Liberty on Senior Day
New Mexico State broke open a tie game by scoring 42-unanswered points en route to a 49-14 win over Liberty, Saturday afternoon, at Williams Stadium.
With the loss, Liberty’s third in a row, the Flames end the regular season with an 8-4 record. New Mexico State, a future Conference USA opponent for the Flames, has won five of its last seven games to raise its record to 5-6 on the season.
The game was played in front of 18,837 fans, giving Liberty a new stadium record for total home attendance (125,724) and average home attendance (20,954).
Prior to kickoff, the Flames honored 20 seniors who helped the team record three consecutive bowl game victories and achieve bowl eligibility again this season.
Liberty’s 20-member senior class included: Aidan Alves, Michael Bollinger, Charlie Brewer, Brody Brumm, Khaleb Coleman, Daniel Darko, Micah Glaize, T.J. Green, Jerome Jackson, Durrell Johnson, Cooper McCaw, Austin Mock, Dennis Osagiede, Carl Poole, Javon Scruggs, Caleb Snead, Jason Stricker, Juawan Treadwell, Naasir Watkins and Rashad Whitehead.
New Mexico State dominated nearly every aspect of the final stats sheet, outgaining the Flames by 113 yards (428 to 315).
The Flames were held to 108 rushing yards, including a loss of 34 yards on five Aggie quarterback sacks. Liberty’s limited rushing attack was led by senior T.J. Green’s nine carries for 55 yards and a touchdown.
Liberty used three quarterbacks in the game, with senior Charlie Brewer (5-of-9, 34 yards, 1 INT) getting his second start of the year. Johnathan Bennett (8-of-13, 72 yards) and Kaidon Salter (12-of-17, 101 yards, 1 TD) also saw time under center.
Demario Douglas was Liberty’s top target on the day, finishing the game with seven receptions for 78 yards. The fourth-year redshirt sophomore will enter the bowl game needing 23 yards to surpass the 1,000-yard mark for the season.
Mike Smith, Jr., led Liberty’s defensive effort on the day, finishing the game with nine stops (six solo, three assisted).
Box Score Highlights:
Final Score: 49-14
New Mexico State (5-6)
Location: Williams Stadium (Lynchburg, Va.)
Trailing 14-7 midway through the second quarter, Liberty’s Charlie Brewer attempted to find wide receiver CJ Yarbrough open for a pass. However, defensive back Bryce Jackson intercepted the pass attempt. On the next play, New Mexico State quarterback Diego Pavia found tailback Star Thomas open for a 39-yard touchdown play, setting the stage for the Aggies to score 42-unanswered points.
- Thanks to a 10-play, 92-yard drive midway through the first quarter, the Aggies took their first lead, 7-0, at the 6:11 mark. New Mexico State converted on two third-down plays, setting up a 34-yard touchdown pass from Diego Pavia to Jonathan Brady.
- The Flames tried to cut into the Aggies’ advantage late in the first quarter when Nick Brown attempted his third 50-plus yard field goal attempt of the year. However, the redshirt freshman’s 52-yard attempt missed the left upright.
- Liberty tied the game at 7-7 on the second-to-last offensive play of the first quarter. After Liberty recovered a fumble at midfield, senior T.J. Green capped a 6-play, 49-yard drive with a one-yard rushing touchdown with three seconds left in the opening quarter.
- New Mexico State regained the lead, 14-7, at the 7:16 mark of the second quarter when Pavia kept the snap and scored from two yards out to finish off a 70-yard drive. The 11-play drive was aided by three Liberty penalties, including a pass interference call that led to the ball being placed at the two-yard line.
- The Aggies scored two more times before the half, taking a 28-7 lead into the intermission. Pavia threw a pair of touchdown passes during the final seven minutes, including a 39-yard strike to Star Thomas at 6:29 and a 42-yard pass play to Kordell David with 43 seconds remaining in the period.
- The Aggies scored on their first possession of the second half, pushing their lead to 35-7 at the 8:03 mark of the third quarter. Pavia scored his second rushing touchdown of the day on a two-yard keeper to cap an eight-play, 44-yard drive.
- Two plays after a Johnathan Bennett interception, New Mexico State pushed its lead to 42-7 when Jamoni Jones broke free for a 49-yard touchdown run at the 5:28 mark.
- New Mexico State capped its run of 42-straight points scored when Pavia scored his third rushing touchdown of the day, a three-yard play, with 6:23 remaining in the fourth.
- The Flames broke their scoreless streak late in the fourth quarter when Kaidon Salter ended an 18-play, 76-yard drive with a six-yard touchdown pass to Jaivan Lofton with 15 seconds remaining in the contest.
With the Flames being bowl eligible for the fourth year in a row, Liberty now awaits its 2022 bowl game selection, which will be announced on Sunday, December 4.
Photo at Top of Page: Caleb Snead