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Pavia Shows Toughness, New Mexico State Get To 7 Wins with Quick Lane Bowl Victory

The Aggies prevented a Bowling Green comeback at Detroit’s Ford Field.

NCAA Football: Quick Lane Bowl-New Mexico State at Bowling Green Lon Horwedel-USA TODAY Sports

It was mostly a crowd of orange and brown shirts in Detroit, in favor of the MAC’s Bowling Green State Falcons on Boxing Day. It makes sense, considering the New Mexico State Aggies had to travel significantly farther to play in the Quick Lane Bowl. Nevertheless, Jerry Kill’s Aggies picked up just their second bowl win since since 1960 and first since the 2017 Arizona Bowl.

Seven wins is also tied for their highest win total since 1965.

Junior quarterback Diego Pavia was named the player of the game, completing 17 of 29 passes for 167 yards, two touchdowns, and an interception. Pavia also notably had several key runs with 12 carries for 65 yards, including the team’s final first down that cemented the 24-19 victory.

Quick Lane Bowl - Bowling Green v New Mexico State Photo by Aaron J. Thornton/Getty Images

How It Happened

BGSU senior quarterback Matt McDonald was put through concussion protocol in the first quarter after a late hit out of bounds, that was called as such. McDonald would miss the rest of the game and was replaced by Camden Orth. Orth completed 14 passes on 22 attempts for 191 yards and a touchdown.

New Mexico State led 14-0 at the half while forcing an interception and two missed field goals by the BGSU offense. To open the second half, Ethan Albertson kicked a 35-yard field goal to extend the NMSU lead. Bowling Green got on the board when Ta’ron Keith took the return 75 yards for the score on the ensuing kickoff.

Bowling Green offensive lineman Bronson Warner was ejected in the third quarter following his second unsportsmanlike conduct penalty.

Two NMSU possessions later, running back Ahmonte Watkins took a handoff 45 yards for the score to make it 24-7. Bowling Green countered with Albertson’s first field goal make of the day a few minutes later. The Falcons continued their comeback attempt by blocking an NMSU punt out the end zone for a safety with seven minutes remaining. On the ensuing possession, Orth threw his only touchdown of the day when he hit Tyrone Broden for 19 yards.

New Mexico State got the ball back with 6:27 remaining and milked a 13-play, 43-yard drive that included three first-down runs by Pavia. Pavia did nearly fumble the ball away with 5:20 remaining, but the Aggies were able to recover it.

The Take

The sticking point of this game is going to be the play of Pavia. It absolutely should. The Albuquerque native and former JUCO national champion was the spark that ignited this win with how hard he played, putting his body on the line seemingly every other play.

Let’s not let the job that Jerry Kill did with this program get lost, however. He and his staff not only put together one of the program’s best seasons of the last twenty years, but they did it in Kill’s first year at the helm. To put it in perspective, New Mexico State won more games this year than they did in 2019, 2020, and 2021 put together.

This victory also marks the first bowl victory of Kill’s career.

As the program heads to Conference USA in 2023, Kill might be in the midst of his quickest program turnaround yet.