Hilltoppers fall to New Mexico State in homecoming matchup, Aggies clinch CUSA game berth

The Hilltoppers remain home for their next game.
Published: Nov. 11, 2023 at 7:32 PM CST
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BOWLING GREEN, Ky. (WBKO) - It started off strong, but another second half blunder caused WKU (5-5, 3-3 CUSA) to fall to New Mexico State 38-29, allowing the Aggies to clinch the second spot in the Conference USA championship game against Liberty.

“Tough loss. Hat’s off to New Mexico State. They played extremely well,” WKU Football Head Coach Tyson Helton said. “Well-coached football team. They did everything right that they needed to do. They controlled the ball. They were able to run the ball. I thought they played pretty good defense when they needed to play good defense. Good football team. “We’ve got two more games. We’re going to be fighting to get bowl eligible in this next home game. We’ve got a lot to play for. We’ve got to get our jaw set and just keep battling. We’ve got good things ahead of us if we just keep battling.”

Austin Reed went 20-36 for 270 yards, 3 touchdowns and one costly interception. Elijah Young had 14 carries for 80 yards and three receptions for 84 yards and a touchdown. Malachi Corley had 6 receptions for 78 yards and a touchdown.

For New Mexico State (8-3, 6-1 CUSA), Diego Pavia went 14-24 for 141 yards and 2 touchdowns. Star Thomas had 7 carries for 85 yards. Jonathan Brady had 3 receptions for 31 yards and one carry for 10 yards and a touchdown.

On the third play on the game Austin reed found Elijah Young out of the backfield and he broke multiple tackles and out ran everybody on his way into the endzone for the 72 yard touchdown. On the very next series, Austin Reed ran the ball in from 10 yards out to put WKU up 14-0 early.

But the Aggies settled down and things took a turn, starting with a 40-yard field goal by Ethan Albertson to get them on the board. And then on the next possession, Jonathan Brady took a jet sweep play to the front corner of the endzone for the 10 yard rushing touchdown.

They weren’t done there, the next series Diego Pavia found Trent Hudson for the one handed touchdown catch on the fade route and just like that it was 17-10 new Mexico state.

With six seconds left, Reed found Craig Burt Jr. in the back of the endzone for a one handed snag and WKU took a 21-17 lead into the half.

The second half has been an issue all season for WKU and that continued today, Pavia found Eli Stowers on a slant route to put the Aggies back on top and they didn’t look back from that point forward. Stowers would add another touchdown later on a 7 yard wildcat run.

The Aggies put the dagger in the Tops on a 57 yard pick six, Dylan Early picked off Reed and essentially iced the game shut.

Special Teams was an issue today for the Hilltoppers, Lucas Carneiro missed two field goals today after being great for most of this season so far.

WKU scored its only touchdown of the second half on a 15-yard pass from Reed to Malachi Corley with 1:30 to play, making the score 38-29. The touchdown reception was the 27th of Corley’s WKU career, moving him into sole possession of second place on the program’s career touchdown receptions list.

The Hilltoppers remain home for their next game – a Saturday, Nov. 18 game against Sam Houston State. Kickoff is set for 2:30 p.m. CT.