(CTN News) – New Mexico State beat Auburn 31-10 on Saturday after Diego Pavia passed for 201 yards and three touchdowns.
Although New Mexico State was 23-1/2-point underdogs, it outscored the Tigers (21-3) in the second half. Aggies also lost their first 27 games against SEC opponents despite clinching a spot in the Conference USA championship game against Liberty.
New Mexico State coach Jerry Kill said there aren’t many opportunities like this. “We dominated the SEC football team most of the time.”
A former Minnesota coach called it “one of New Mexico State’s biggest wins in a long time” and “one of my greatest wins.”
In the fourth quarter, Kill’s team put this one away with two successful gambles. The first play of the fourth quarter was a fake punt by New Mexico State from its own territory.
Another fourth-down gamble produced another 2-yard touchdown for Pavia against Eli Stowers. This 16-play, 83-yard drive ended Auburn’s chances of getting back in the game.
Hugh Freeze’s first-year team came off a 48-10 win over Arkansas.
“Today was the exact opposite,” Freeze said. “I’m disappointed. That’s not good enough for our university.”
In response to a question about fake punts, Freeze replied, “Yes, we’ve prepared for them.”
In addition to completing 19 of 28 passes, Pavia also ran eight times for 35 yards. He ran for 19 yards and caught four passes for 48 yards while lining up at quarterback and tight end.
Thorne threw for 148 yards and a touchdown while rushing for 38 yards for Auburn.
A pair of pass interference penalties helped the Aggies quiet Jordan-Hare Stadium with an opening drive capped by Pavia’s 9-yard touchdown pass to Kordell David. The rest of the way wasn’t much to cheer about for Auburn fans.
A huge payday and a big win went to New Mexico State in this game.
Kill smiled as he said, “$1.7 million and we won.”.
New Mexico St.: Won seven straight games and controlled this one for most of the game. In nearly 39 minutes, the Aggies outgained Auburn 414-213.
Freeze’s first Auburn team won three straight games, all against SEC teams, while allowing only 38 points during that stretch. It was nearly matched by New Mexico State. On 26 carries, the Tigers gained 65 yards.
PAVIA VS. FREEZE
Pavia seems to have the most Freeze defenses. A year ago, he passed for 214 yards and three touchdowns and ran for 125 yards and three more scores against Freeze’s Liberty team.
Freeze said he made plays at every critical moment.