New Mexico State throttles Auburn 31-10 for first win over SEC team
AUBURN, Ala. (AP) — Diego Pavia passed for 201 yards and three touchdowns and New Mexico State upset Auburn 31-10 on Saturday for the Aggies' first win over a Southeastern Conference team.
New Mexico State (9-3) outscored the Tigers (6-5) 21-3 in the second half after coming in as 23-1/2-point underdog s. The Aggies, who have already clinched a spot in the Conference USA championship game against No. 25 Liberty, had lost their first 27 meetings against SEC teams.
“You don't get many opportunities like this,” New Mexico State coach Jerry Kill said. “We're playing a Southeastern Conference football team and we really dominated the football game most of the time.”
The former Minnesota coach called it “one of the biggest wins New Mexico State's had in a long time” and “one of the greatest wins I've ever been part of.”
Kill's team put this one away with two successful gambles in the fourth quarter. New Mexico State converted a fake punt from its own territory on the opening play of the fourth quarter.
Then Pavia hit Eli Stowers for a 2-yard touchdown on another fourth-down gamble to make it 24-7. That ended a 16-play, 83-yard drive that worked 9:58 off the clock and left Auburn's struggling offense little chance to get back in it.
Auburn was coming off a 48-10 win over Arkansas in its most complete performance under first-year coach Hugh Freeze.
“It was the exact opposite today,” Freeze said. “It's very disappointing. Our university deserves a better effort than that.”
Asked if his team had prepared for fake punts, Freeze only nodded and said, “Yep.”
Pavia completed 19 of 28 passes and also ran eight times for 35 yards. Stowers lined up at both quarterback and tight end and ran for 19 yards while catching four passes for 48 yards.
Payton Thorne completed 15 of 19 passes for 148 yards and a touchdown for Auburn while gaining 38 yards on 17 runs.
The Aggies quieted the Jordan-Hare Stadium with an opening drive capped by Pavia's 9-yard touchdown pass to Kordell David in a drive helped out by a pair of pass interference penalties. Auburn fans didn't have a whole lot to cheer about the rest of the way.
New Mexico State got a whopping payday for the game — and a big win.
“How about that, $1.7 million and we won the game,” Kill said, smiling.
New Mexico St.: Has won seven straight games and controlled this one much of the way. The Aggies outgained Auburn 414-213 and held onto the ball for nearly 39 minutes.
Auburn: Freeze's first Auburn team had won three straight games, all against SEC teams while allowing only a combined 38 points during that stretch. New Mexico State nearly matched that. The Tigers ran for just 65 yards on 26 carries.
PAVIA VERSUS FREEZE
Pavia seems to have the number of Freeze defenses. Last season he passed for 214 yards and three touchdowns and ran for 125 and three more scores against Freeze’s Liberty team.
“Every critical moment, it seemed like he made a play,” Freeze said.
New Mexico State hosts Jacksonville State.
Auburn hosts No. 8 Alabama in the Iron Bowl;