LAS CRUCES - New Mexico State wrapped up a long two-year period with a victory on Saturday.
After not playing a season in 2020 due to COVID-19 and entering Saturday's finale with one win this season, the Aggies beat fellow independent Massachusetts 44-27 at Aggie Memorial Stadium.
The Aggies finished the year 2-10, sending off nine seniors with their first win over a FBS school in the last 12 tries.
Saturday was also the last game for nine-year head coach Doug Martin, whose contract runs through June and will not return next season. Martin did not greet his seniors on the field prior to kickoff, but he did coach on Saturday to pick up his 25th victory at NM State to finish 25-74 as head coach.
The Aggies outgained UMass 623-405 for a season high in yards. The Aggies rushed for 203 yards. NM State led 27-13 at halftime and 34-27 entering the fourth quarter.
UMass rushed for 281 yards on Saturday, scoring on a 20-yard touchdown run from Ellis Merriweather to cut the Aggies lead to 21-13 late in the first half.
But the Aggies answered with a three-play, 75-yard drive that took three plays, capped by Juwaun Price's third rushing touchdown of the first half to push the lead back to 27-13 at halftime.
Aggies kicker Ethan Albertson needed to hit a 50-yard field goal for the third straight week to put NM State up 37-27 with 12 minutes left in the game.
The NM State defense sealed the win by stopping Merriweather on fourth and 2 from the Aggies 10 with 1:43 to play.
Aggies quarterback Jonah Johnson followed with a 5-yard touchdown pass to tight end Thomaz Whitford to cap a seven-play, 81-yard drive for a 44-27 lead with 7:04 left to play.
The Aggies outgained UMass 340-147 in the first half with Price rushing for 96 yards and becoming the first player to rush for three scores since Christian Gibson in 2018.
Price became the first Aggie to rush for four or more touchdowns since Larry Rose III in 2015, in the third quarter, capping an eight play, 90-yard drive with a 26-yard run to answer an opening drive score from UMass.
UMass had scoring plays of 20, 30 and 73 yards on its first three scores. They made it 34-27 with 2:01 left in the third with a 79-yard touchdown run by Merriweather
This article originally appeared on Las Cruces Sun-News: Aggies close 2-10 season with home win over Massachusetts