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New Mexico State qualifies for its first football bowl game in 57 years

Long draught over as New Mexico State qualifies for its first football bowl game in 57 years, as it concludes the regular season all even at 6-6 by turning back visiting South Alabama Saturday

A bowl bid will be awarded the Aggies after quarterback Tyler Rogers led the winning drive in the final quarter

Arnie Leshin

By ARNIE LESHIN, Santa Fe Today

Droughts are droughts, but this one was getting ridiculous.

But it’s gone now and the New Mexico State football can take a collective deep breath, no more being frustrated when it’s been 57 years since the Aggies were invited to a bowl game.

Obviously they never qualified until now. The 6-6 record did the trick, and it was achieved by turning in a 23-17 victory over South Alabama Saturday in Los Cruces. Right after, head coach Doug Martin gave his players the news that they are going bowling and the draught since they played in the Sun Bowl in 1960 is over.

Until now, it had been the longest wait, the oldest streak in the FBS. Next comes the bowl bid, and currently New Mexico State appears heading to the Nova Home Loans Arizona Bowl in Tucson on Dec. 29. School officials have already given the okay to play there.

The latest win was spotlighted by quarterback Tyler Rogers passing for 451 yards and led a drive that put the Aggies ahead in the final minute of the Sun Belt Conference contest. They wound up at 4-4 in the conference.

On the winning drive, Rogers connected on 6-for-11 passing for 60 yards through the air, and the 15-play, 83-yard march was capped by a 7-yard toss to Conner Cramer with 32 second left.

It brought happiness to the NMSU team and its fans. A loss here would have eliminated it from a bowl game and the draught would have continued. The Aggies trailed 7-0 in the second quarter but pieced together 13 straight points, plus a field goal, and they took a 16-7 lead. South Alabama then cut the gap to 16-14 in the fourth quarter,

Following a field goal that brought the Jaguars a 17-16 advantage, it was Rogers time and he responded.

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