New Mexico Bowl: Fresno State 37, New Mexico State 10

College Football

Fresno State athletics press release

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. - Under the guidance of acting head coach Tim Skipper, Fresno State won its fifth-straight bowl game, defeating 10-win New Mexico State, 37-10 in the 2023 Isleta New Mexico Bowl at University Stadium. The 27-point win is the Bulldogs' third-largest margin of victory in a bowl game, and the largest since 1985.

Senior linebacker Levelle Bailey and redshirt sophomore Mikey Keene were named the game's Defensive and Offensive Most Outstanding Players.

Keene led the charge with a career-high 380 yards passing on 31-of-39 attempts. He accounted for four touchdowns, three through air and one on the ground.

Five of Keene's receivers had at least 47 yards, led by Malik Sherrod who had a career-high 81 on eight receptions. The running back had 171 total yards on the day with the other 90 coming on the ground.

Bailey led the defense with eight stops and a sack.

Fresno State won the toss, and kicked off to start the game. New Mexico State trekked downfield, but once the Bulldogs got settled in the Aggies were held to a punt. Jacob Holmes came up with a sack on third down. NMSU had a delay of game penalty on their field goal attempt, getting backed up and being forced to punt on their opening drive.

The Bulldog offense was clicking early as Mikey Keene opened up with a 14-yard completion to Erik Brooks to start the game. Two plays later, Keene connected with Jalen Moss for a 39-yard completion to get the 'Dogs down to the New Mexico State 20-yard line. Fresno State scored with a 32-yard field goal by Dylan Lynch to get things going in the first quarter.

Devo Bridges came off the edge to sack Diego Pavia on the Aggies' first play on their next possession. Two plays later, Dean Clark picked off Pavia on the Aggie 40-yard line. Clark's interception would lead to points just four plays later as Keene capped it with a 26-yard touchdown pass to Josiah Freeman for the first touchdown of his Bulldog career.

Fresno State led 10-0 at the end of the first quarter.

Phoenix Jackson forced another Aggie punt, coming up with a big third-down tackle for a loss of five yards. Erik Brooks muffed the punt, and it was recovered by the Aggies at the Fresno State 33-yard line. Fresno State's defense held New Mexico State to a field goal from 45 yards out.

Although Malik Sherrod's run game has been kept under control, the junior back was still able to get active in the pass game as he accounted for 30 yards receiving on the Bulldogs' following drive. Keene found a window and hit Jaelen Gill in the end zone for a 23-yard score to put Fresno State up 17-3 with 7:02 left in the half.

Keene, who threw 15-straight completions to start the game, threw his first incompletion with an interception in the end zone with 3:25 on the clock before the break. The Bulldog defense held strong as the Aggies moved down the field with time ticking down in the half. At the Fresno State 38-yard line, the Aggies opted to go for it on fourth down but were stopped on a scramble and incomplete pass. Fresno State took over on downs with 27 seconds left in the half.

Trying to score one last time before the half, Keene hit Brooks for a 35-yard completion but when the play fell dead, so did the clock. Fresno State took a 17-3 lead into the locker room.

The Bulldogs opened the second half with the ball, and scored on a 25 yarder by the leg of Lynch. It was the legs of Sherrod who got the 'Dogs down the field on the second half opening drive as he ran for 37 yards and added 26 in the receiving game on the drive.

New Mexico State scored its first touchdown of the night after stringing together a 14-play, 75-yard drive that saw Pavia pummeling through for a 14-yard score to halve the deficit at 20-10. Fresno State answered though by chewing up more than six minutes of clock. Keene finished off the 13-play drive with a 4-yard touchdown run to put the 'Dogs back up by 17 with 13:20 to play.

After forcing their fourth three-and-out of the game, and first of the second half, the Bulldogs took over and extended their lead. A nine-play drive was finished off with a 38-yard field goal by Lynch.

NMSU was held to just seven yards on its next four plays, turning the ball back over to Fresno State at its own 32-yard line. The 'Dogs wasted little time tacking on more points. On their fourth play of the drive, Keene linked up with Moss for a 9-yard score to make it 37-10.

December 16, 2023