New Mexico State dominates Liberty on road for Aggies fifth win of the season

In the best win of the Jerry Kill era, New Mexico State defeated eight-win and future Conference USA rival Liberty 49-14 on Saturday on the road.

The Aggies improved to 5-6 on the season and could potentially reach bowl eligibility if the Aggies can secure another opponent next week and then receive a waiver from the NCAA if they are able to beat a second FCS opponent.

"They did what we asked them to do and everything that we talked about, they did," Kill said. "You don't always get that from a ballclub. I was worried at halftime. ... They responded like a veteran team to put us in this position.

"With what we did to Liberty, we deserve a bowl game."

Multiple sources have indicated that NM State was in conversations with 5-6 Valparaiso, but Valpo would need a waiver as well in order to play a 12th game as a FCS program.

Kill said he believes the administration has found a 12th game.

"Let's put it this way, they better find one," Kill said.

New Mexico State quarterback Diego Pavia led the Aggies to their fifth win of the season on Saturday, beating Liberty on the road.
New Mexico State quarterback Diego Pavia led the Aggies to their fifth win of the season on Saturday, beating Liberty on the road.

The Aggies entered the game as 24-point underdogs and led 28-7 at halftime. With rumors pregame that Liberty head coach Hugh Freeze could soon take over at Auburn, the Aggies controlled the game from their second possession and never let up.

"I have known Hugh for a long time and coaches go through stuff," Kill said. "I have been in his situation. Kids are still going to play football hard and not lay down."

Aggies quarterback Diego Pavia led the offense to 428 yards, completing 16 for 21 passing for 214 yards and three touchdowns and rushing for 125 yards and three scores.

"We just want to play for each other," Pavia said. "I think we did that and now we have a chance at a bowl game."

Pavia capped a dominant first half with a 42-yard strike to Kordell David down the right sideline to open a 28-7 halftime lead.

Pavia was 13 for 16 passing in the first half for 182 yards and three touchdowns. He rushed for 82 yards and a touchdown as the Aggies outgained Liberty 286-156 in the first half and possessed the ball for 20 minutes.

Liberty started the second half with the ball, but a Lazarus Williams sack ended Liberty's first possession as the Aggies held Liberty to 6 for 13 on third down.

Liberty played man-to-man throughout the game and Pavia made them pay when plays broke down. He broke free for 22 yards on the Aggies first possession of the second to the Liberty 11. Aggies receiver Justice Powers drew his second pass interference in the end zone and Pavia scored his second rush touchdown of the game to make it 35-7.

Aggies running back Jamoni Jones slammed the door with a 49-yard touchdown run that put the Aggies up 42-7 entering the fourth quarter.

The Aggies defense held Liberty to 108 yards on the ground, sacked the quarterback five times and forced three turnovers on Saturday.

"Diego was lights out," Kill said. "When you get good quarterback play like that, you have an opportunity to be successful. ... He has gained confidence the last three games. As an offensive staff, we are getting better. We were due for something like this."

Jason Groves can be reached at 575-541-5459 or jgroves@lcsun-news.com. Follow him on Twitter @jpgroves.

This article originally appeared on Las Cruces Sun-News: New Mexico State dominates Liberty on road for Aggies fifth win of the season