It appears the revival of Aggie Football may have been slightly exaggerated as New Mexico State suffered an embarrassing 41-30 loss to UMass to begin their 2023 campaign.
It was exactly eight months ago that Jerry Kill had led the Aggies to their second bowl victory in the past 50 years and their highest win total in 20 years. However, the buzz that led to over 15,000 fans to brave 100 degree heat at Memorial Stadium was evaporated.
The game was low-scoring affair and could have went either way headed into the fourth quarter. UMass was clinging to a narrow 13-10 lead before a slugfest gave way to a shootout. Over the final fifteen minutes, both team combined to score 48 points.
The Minutemen ultimately prevailed in Las Cruces because of their retooled roster. UMass Head Coach Don Brown recruited over 20 transfers to Amherst this off-season after an 1-11 campaign. After Clemson Transfer QB Taisun Phommachanh led a methodical 75-yard, six minute drive to put UMass up 27-17, Arizona transfer Isaiah Rutherford effectively ended the game with a pick six.
UMASS WITH THE PICK 6 pic.twitter.com/J6FB68nXDJ— Sickos Committee (@SickosCommittee) August 27, 2023
While New Mexico State QB Diego Pavia bounced back with a 40 yard bomb to bring the Aggies back within 10, his redemption was short lived when he fumbled on the next drive. Although Pavia had three scores and 250 yards through the air, his performance was largely overshadowed by questionable decision-making and three turnovers.
While Kill utilized his post-game press conference to downplay the loss, it is hard to overstate just how embarrassing this performance was for the Aggies. On top of allowing UMass to match their win total from a year ago before week one even begins, the Minutemen also won their first season opener against an FBS opponent in 40 years. It has also been over four seasons since UMass won a road game.
Fortunately for Kill, his team should be able to regain some confidence next week. New Mexico State is welcoming FCS Western Illinois to Memorial Stadium. The Leathernecks finished 0-11 last season.