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New Mexico St. fends off Bowling Green, 24-19

Dec 26, 2022; Detroit, Michigan, USA; New Mexico State quarterback Diego Pavia (10) scrambles for a first down against Bowling Green in the second quarter in the 2022 Quick Lane Bowl at Ford Field. Mandatory Credit: Lon Horwedel-USA TODAY Sports

Diego Pavia passed for two touchdowns and Ahmonte Watkins scored on a long run as New Mexico State knocked off Bowling Green 24-19 on Monday afternoon at the Quick Lane Bowl in Detroit.

Pavia completed 17 of 29 passes for 167 yards and one interception, and also rushed for 65 yards to lead the Aggies (7-6). Star Thomas and Eric Marsh caught touchdown passes for New Mexico State.

Backup quarterback Camden Orth completed 14 of 22 passes for 191 yards and one touchdown for Bowling Green (6-7). Ta’ron Keith returned a kickoff for a touchdown and Tyrone Broden caught a scoring pass.

Orth entered after starting quarterback Matt McDonald was injured midway through the first quarter and didn’t return. McDonald was 2-of-4 passing for 30 yards and an interception before exiting.

New Mexico State was 11 of 17 on third-down conversions and controlled the ball for 38:23 while outgaining the Falcons 407 to 294.

The Aggies held a 17-0 lead after Ethan Albertson’s 35-yard field goal with 11:15 left in the third quarter before Bowling Green made a bid to get back in the game.

New Mexico State decided to do a short kickoff. Keith fielded George Eberle’s kick at his own 25 and began navigating his way through traffic and eventually was free down the right sideline and finished off a 75-yard kickoff return.

The Aggies regained momentum when Watkins broke loose on a 45-yard run to make it 24-7 with 3:26 left in the third quarter.

But Bowling Green’s Mason Lawler kicked a 49-yard field goal on the first play off the final stanza and the Falcons tacked on a safety with 7:10 to play. Davion Daniels broke in free to block Eberle’s punt and the ball went out of the end zone for a safety.

After the free kick, it took Bowling Green just two plays to move within five as Orth tossed a 19-yard scoring pass to Broden with 6:27 remaining.

The Falcons never saw the ball again as the Aggies used 13 plays — including four third-down conversions — to run out the clock.

New Mexico State struck first when Pavia tossed a 15-yard touchdown pass to Thomas with 9:39 left in the first quarter.

McDonald was hurt on Bowling Green’s next drive as he scrambled for nine yards and received a vicious late hit along the sideline from the Aggies’ Dylan Early at the Falcons’ 49-yard line.

New Mexico State increased the lead to 14-0 when Pavia threw a 2-yard scoring pass to Marsh with 7:36 remaining in the first half.

–Field Level Media