New Mexico State welcomed Troy to a well-packed, noisy Aggie Memorial Stadium in what was the Sun Belt opener for both teams.
The game was NMSU’s home opener and they were holding their second annual “Pack the Stadium” night, which led to the sometimes raucous atmosphere. Unfortunately the crowd did not affect the Troy offense too much as they ran out the last 6:15 to hold on 27-24.
The first half was dominated by the Trojans, as their defense held the Aggies to three points, while their offense was able to score two touchdowns in the first quarter.
Troy was simply the better team in the first half as the Aggies D gave up a few too many big plays. It’s possible New Mexico State was nervous in the first half but they started to play much better in the second half.
Although Troy opened up with a TD drive just 2:33 into the third quarter, that didn’t phase NMSU’s offense.
After two big completions to Connor Cramer and Gregory Hogan, the Aggies faced a 3rd and 11 when this happened:
Of course, the extra point was no good (because NMSU just can’t figure that out), which left the score at 20-9.
The Aggie’s defense would hold Troy to a three and out which gave the Aggies another chance to head down the field, which they did with another great catch by Mr. Jaleel Scott.
The score then read 20-16 with Troy getting the ball back in the very capable hands of Brandon Silvers. Facing a 4th and 1 at the NMSU 32, Silvers faked a handoff to Jordan Chunn and went around the right end and all the way into the end zone.
Tyler Rogers would connect with Izaiah Lottie for a nine yard touchdown pass followed by a two point catch by Jaleel Scott in the back of the end zone to make it 27-24 with six minutes to play.
Brandon Silvers and Jordan Chunn relied on their experience and gave the Aggies a lesson in winning by running out the last six minutes of a well fought game.
After the Game
After the game, Troy head coach Neal Brown had this to say about New Mexico State:
I really believe that's a bowl team right there, one of the most improved defenses in the country. I can't say enough about Coach Spaziani. They kept us off balance all night.
Head man Doug Martin also had some good things to say following the tough matchup
"That was a great college football atmosphere and it was fun playing in front of that crowd. This was a great college football game between two great teams. When you have a game with no turnovers on either side, that's about as good as it gets in college football and the good news is we were there. I couldn't be more proud of our guys and the way they competed."
It’s clear that both teams respect each other. This was a great game to watch and was a message to the rest of the Sun Belt: they are for real.
Both teams will return to non-conference play as Troy returns home to face the Zips of Akron in Military Appreciation Night while New Mexico State hosts UTEP in the I-10 rivalry.