By E. Marcel Pourtout, Editor
An 11-yard touchdown pass from Tyler Rogers to Teldrick Morgan with 15 seconds to play completed an improbable comeback victory for New Mexico State capped a wild comeback as New Mexico State rallied for a 34-31 victory against Georgia State on Saturday.
It was the Sun Belt Conference opener for both squads.
The Aggies (2-0, 1-0) scored 17 fourth-quarter points to secure the win.
Georgia State outgained New Mexico State in total yardage 456-435 but had four turnovers in the contest.
“We had too many turnovers and self-destructed,” Georgia State coach Trent Miles said. “We allowed them to get back into the game and our guys have to learn how to finish when you get up on an opponent.”
After trailing through the entire contest, New Mexico State took its first lead of the game on a five-yard touchdown pass from Rodgers to Joseph Matthews, making the score 27-24 with 8:04 left in the game. Rodgers finished the contest with 241 yards passing and three touchdowns.
The Panthers responded with a 13-play, 86-yard drive which led to a one-yard quarterback sneak for a touchdown by Nick Arbuckle, regaining the lead at 31-27 before the Aggies’ final drive.
Arbuckle finished the contest with a game-high 294 yards passing with two interceptions.
Leading 17-10 at halftime, the Panthers drove the ball down the field on their first possession of the second half culminating in a 54-yard touchdown run by Krysten Hammon. It was the fourth-longest run in program history and the third-longest touchdown rush. The score gave Georgia State a 24-10 lead early in the third quarter.
Hammon had a game-high 127 yards rushing on 25 carries.
The Aggies pulled in within seven points later in the third quarter on a 36-yard touchdown catch by Morgan, making the score 24-17 which it remained heading into the fourth quarter.
The Panthers struck first on their opening possession of the contest on a 68-yard TD pass on a slant pattern up the middle from Arbuckle to Donovan Harden.
The Aggies turned the ball over on a fumble by Rodgers which was recovered by Bryan Williams late in the first quarter.
Georgia State subsequently increased the lead on its next possession with a 38-yard field goal by Wil Lutz, making the score 10-0 with 2:01 left in the first quarter.
The Panthers forced two turnovers in the first quarter. Georgia State also held the passing yards advantage 119-18 in the first 15 minutes of the contest.
Hammon’s eight-yard touchdown run early in the second quarter increased the Panthers’ lead to 17-0.
The Aggies got on the board with 4:15 left in the first half with a 41-yard field goal by Maxwell Johnson, making the score 17-3. New Mexico State’s scoring drive went for 56 yards on 12 plays and took 3:50.
The Aggies got another score late in the second quarter on a 40-yard interception return for a touchdown by Rodney Butler, cutting the Panthers’ lead to 17-10.
In the first half, Georgia State outgained New Mexico State 258-180 in total yards.
Joseph Peterson recorded 15 tackles for the Panthers, one off his school record of 16 set last year against Troy. Williams had eight tackles, an interception — the first of his career — and a fumble recovery. Georgia State forced three turnovers on the game.