AUBURN, Ala (EETV) - New Mexico St. smothers Auburn 31-10 in slow, sloppy, out-of-character day for the Tigers. New Mexico St. (9-3) got it's first win in SEC history against the Auburn Tigers (6-5) Saturday night in Jordan-Hare Stadium, this is Auburn's first loss to a non-power 5 school at home since 1950.
"As good as last week felt and as complete as we played in all three phases, it was the exact opposite today and it's very disappointing," head coach Hugh Freeze said. "Our university deserves a better effort than that. It's my job to make sure they give that and we did not today."
New Mexico St. commanded the game from start to end and in every position. It's clear that the Aggies came into Auburn looking to compete and dominate. Auburn looked sloppy and unprepared, almost like they over looked their opponent. Penalties and sluggishness plagued the entire game for the Tigers. The Tigers had nine penalties for 75 yards, many of those penalties crushing offensive drives. The Aggies not only controlled the ball but also the clock, having possession for 38:50.
No matter what the Aggies did, Auburn's defense couldn't find an answer. The Tiger defense allowed 414 total yards of offense. Quarterback Diego Pavia led his offense, going 19-28 with 201 yards in the air and three touchdowns. The running game, however, outran their offensive production with 213 yards on the ground. Auburn would only have 213 yards total, 65 on the ground and 148 in the air. The Tigers failed to enter the redzone during the game and only had 10 first downs.
"You're not going to execute if you're not giving great effort," Freeze said. "... I thought our receivers ran routes in slow motion tonight and did not get out of their breaks at the top end. We didn't protect well. There's nothing positive that I can say about tonight."
New Mexico St. came out of the gate looking hungry and ready to compete, driving down the field in their first possession. The Aggies would have the help of Auburn, however, the Tigers had two pass interference penalties against them. The latter of the two coming on a 4th and 5, putting the Aggies into the redzone. Pavia capped the drive off showing his skills, rolling out of the pocket and dropping a dime to wideout Kordell David in the corner of the endzone for a 9-yard touchdown, putting the Aggies up 7-0. Auburn would then respond poorly going three-and-out in their first offensive possession.
Auburn's offense started to find their footing in their third offensive possession where they marched down the field, utilizing the legs of running back Jarquez Hunter and Thorne. Auburn faced a 4th and one, but Freeze elected to keep his offense on the field. Thorne with the keeper rushed for two yards securing the first down. Thorne would then find wide receiver Rivaldo Fairweather wide-open for a 32-yard touchdown, leveling the score at 7-7.
Before the end of the half New Mexico would put the ball in the hands of their back-up quarterback Eli Stowers. Stowers took command of his offense, in a way that differs from Pavia's offense. Stowers showed his mobility running his team into field goal range before the closing seconds of the half. Ethan Albertson's kick from 10 yards would be good, putting the Aggies up 10-7 going into halftime.
The start of the second half looked much like the first, with Auburn receiving the kickoff and being forced to punt. On New Mexico's first drive of the half, running back Star Thomas broke a 31-yard gain on the very first play. The Aggies played a rotational style of offense in the second half switching in and out Pavia and Stowers for different play types. Both would prove to be crucial on the Aggies way to the redzone. It was Pavia, however, with the drive-ending 17-yard touchdown pass to Thomas, raising the lead for the Aggies 17-7.
When Stowers wasn't under center he would slide over and play receiver for his team. Stowers ended the night with 19 yards on the ground form the quarterback position, while receiving he would have 4 receptions for 48 yards and a touchdown.
Backed up on their own 17, New Mexico drove halfway down the field before Auburn forced them to a 4th and 2. The Aggies then pulled a fake punt out of their pocket, confusing the Tiger defense as Ron Tiavaasue ran for the firstdown. Pavia would then connect with his backup quarterback/receiver Stowers for another Aggie touchdown, going up 24-7. Auburn's next drive would result in a -yard field goal, good from Alex McPherson, making it a 24-10 game, Aggies way. The Aggies would score one more time in the closing minutes of the game on a 2-yard rush from Makhilyn Young, resulting in the final 31-10 score.
After an all-around bad day for the Tigers, they will look to regroup and refocus during the week to be prepared for the Iron Bowl against the Alabama Crimson Tide on Nov. 25, at 2:30 p.m. in Jordan-Hare Stadium.