The New Mexico State Aggies were riding a 57-year drought when it comes to winning a bowl … and then the Arizona Bowl happened.
In said Arizona Bowl, New Mexico State took down the Utah State Aggies in overtime.
This was New Mexico State’s first bowl win since — wait for it — 1960.
According to ESPN, “New Mexico State waited 57 years for a night like this, so a little bit of overtime wasn’t going to get in the way of the party.”
Senior Larry Rose III’s overtime touchdown run gave the New Mexico Aggies (7-6) their first bowl victory since 1960 at the Nova Home Loans Arizona Bowl on Friday night. Rose finished the game with 142 rushing yards while leading his team to a 26-20 win over Utah State — the same program that New Mexico State beat the last time it played in a postseason game during the Eisenhower administration.
“That game couldn’t have ended any better. That was just poetic that Larry Rose would score that last touchdown,” said head coach Doug Martin, who returned to New Mexico State’s Las Cruces campus three seasons ago to take over a program that was on the brink of dropping from FBS competition. “He’s meant so much to this program. We sold him on a vision when we didn’t have anything. It was just a vision that he was going to be a part of a class that changed the culture of a place.”
Martin called the bowl win the “most rewarding experience” he’s had in coaching. The former Kent State head coach didn’t have a team with more than three wins in his first four years in Las Cruces.
When the final whistle was blown (in overtime, of course), New Mexico State knocked off Utah State by the score of 26-20.
.@NMStateFootball wins it in OT!
They capture their first bowl win in 57 years at the @novaAZBOWL! pic.twitter.com/XozLdadeC8
— CBS Sports Network (@CBSSportsNet) December 30, 2017
More from the ESPN article mentioned above:
Several hundred fans poured onto the field after Rose’s game-winning score. The overwhelming majority of a record-setting crowd of 39,132 was dressed in New Mexico State Aggie crimson at the University of Arizona’s stadium Friday night and many of them stuck around to celebrate the end of their lengthy drought.
“They had the whole U of A home side of the field covered. I was like, ‘Man, this is what it’s supposed to look like,'” Rose said. “Nobody is in Las Cruces right now.”
When they return, the Aggies and their city will get a chance to celebrate a bowl win that was 57 years in the making.
While fans don’t always rush the field in the Arizona Bowl, especially when a team just handed the opposing team its seventh loss of the season (Utah State finished 2017 with a 6-7 record while New Mexico State finished at 7-6), it was rather appropriate given what was at stake in this contest.
For all it’s worth, it wasn’t a guarantee that New Mexico State would even make a bowl game during the regular season. After all, this is a team that was 4-6 at one point. However, the Aggies won their final two games, and they ended 2017 on a three-game winning streak, which, of course, included their bowl victory.