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The debut episode of the Juwaun Price show was pretty good.
Episode two was a whole lot better.
Capping off a spectacular all-around day, Price punched in the NM State football team's game-winning touchdown by plowing in from 13 yards out with 21 seconds remaining to lift the Aggies to a 36-29 victory over Dixie State Sunday at the Sun Bowl in El Paso, Texas.
• Big plays allowed Dixie State, who had defeated the Aggies' first spring opponent of 2021 Tarleton State the week prior, to jump out to an early lead. After turning the ball over on downs on their first drive of the day, the Aggies saw the speed of the Trailblazers' Quali Conley who capped a five-play drive with a 57-yard touchdown sprint to hand the visitors a 7-0 lead 5:45 into the tilt.
• The Aggies got on the board thanks to the leg of Ethan Albertson. NM State's placekicker drilled a 35-yard field goal with 10:39 to go in the quarter to cut the Trailblazers' lead down to 7-3.
• Dixie State answered, however, getting big chunks of yardage through the air to extend its lead to double-digits. Kody Wilstead had hookups of 13, 33 and 15 yards through the air on a 75-yard Dixie State touchdown drive, ultimately capping the drive by rumbling in from one yard out to put NM State at a 14-3 disadvantage at the 7:36 mark.
• Taking over for starting quarterback Jonah Johnson, Weston Eget marched the Aggies back into contention just before the halftime horn. The gunslinger started NM State's four-play scoring drive by tossing an 11-yard gainer to Lawrence Dixon. Price followed with a 12-yard scamper before Alex Escobar provided the big play of the drive.
• The redshirt sophomore went through a sizable hole on the right side of the Aggies line, sprinting his way upfield for a 27-yard gain to the Trailblazers' 12-yard line.
• From there, Eget did his thing. The Santa Clarita, Calif., native hit Andre Bodison for a 12-yard score which pulled the Aggies within four, 14-10, with 2:28 to go.
• A injury suffered by Eget on his scoring drive in the second sidelined the redshirt freshman for the rest of the day. It did, however, set up Johnson to take things over. Methodically leading NM State downfield on a 71-yard drive with a good combination of running and passing, Johnson finished the job Price started on the ground to give the Aggies their first lead of the spring.
• After Price churned ahead for gains of 16 and eight yards, Johnson bulldozed his way in from the Dixie State one to put the Aggies ahead 17-14 with 8:30 to go in the quarter.
• Following the Trailblazers' second failed drive of the quarter, Albertson pushed NM State's lead to six, 20-14, by splitting the uprights on a 33-yard field goal try.
• NM State's six-point lead lasted exactly 36 seconds, however. Wilstead hit Jalen Powell for a 65-yard touchdown with 2:02 to go which put the visitors back on top 21-20.
• More of Johnson's prowess through the air and on the ground was the first salvo of the Aggies' 16-point fourth quarter. After he spied Isaiah Carcia-Castaneda for a 14-yard pickup late in the third, Johnson snapped off a pair of quick six-yard gainers to Lawrence Dixon to get the Aggies inside Dixie State's 20.
• Sixteen yards in two plays by Escobar on the ground put the ball on the Trailblazers' one, and Johnson sauntered in untouched with 13:10 left to put his squad back on top, 26-21.
• Aided by a Dixie State pass interference penalty, NM State watched Albertson's third field goal of the day sail through. The 32-yard boot with 6:03 left hiked the hosts' lead to 29-21.
• In order to make it a game again, Dixie State went right back to the tandem of Wilstead and Conley to get the job done. The Trailblazers' signal caller tossed it over the top of the Aggies' secondary, finding a wide-open Conley who took it 75 yards to the promised land. Following a successful two-point conversion throw to Chase Hess, Wilstead tied the game at 29-all with 5:52 to go.
• The teams exchanged three-and-outs, and NM State got the ball back with 2:26 with a chance to end the spring on a high note. Johnson elected to keep the ball on the ground - and in his own hands - through the majority of the Aggies' game-winning drive. The quarterback had runs of nine and 18 yards before locating Garcia-Castaneda for a 12-yard pick-up down to the Trailblazers' 14.
• Out of a timeout with 31 seconds left, an NM State false start penalty backed the Aggies up but Johnson got those yards back and a little more with a six-yard run.
• Price did the rest, pushing his way up the middle for the game-winning score with 21 seconds left.
KEY PERFORMERS/STATISTICS OF NOTE
• Price stole the show, rushing for 165 yards and piling up a grand total of 242 all-purpose yard in the Aggies' triumph. Escobar added 81 yards on 14 carries to help the Aggies amass 329 yards on the ground.
• Johnson went 19-of-29 for 171 yards through the air and joined Price in 200+ all-purpose yard territory (224) by racing for another 53 on the ground. Before he exited due to injury, Eget put up a passing line of 6-for-8 with a touchdown to compliment a 26-yard day on the ground.
• Garcia-Castaneda, Bodison and Dixon each corralled four passes with Garcia-Castaneda recording a team-high 56 receiving yards.
• Seeing his name atop his position at the defensive depth chart, linebacker Nick Giacolone made the most of his opportunity. He finished with a team-high 10 tackles and 0.5 tackles for loss.
• Donovan King (1.0), Lama Lavae (0.5) and Lazarus Williams (0.5) were responsible for producing the Aggies' two sacks on the day.
• The Trailblazers' defensive efforts were led by Malaki Malaki who accumulated a game-high 19 tackles - 2.5 of which went for a loss.
• Wilstead tossed for 359 yards and a pair of touchdowns while adding another rushing score. Conley neared the 200-yard mark in all-purpose yardage, getting 98 yards through the air and another 95 yards on the ground.
• In all, the Aggies' offense finished with 561 yards compared to 483 by Dixie State.
COMING UP NEXT
• With their 2021 spring season a matter of record, the Aggies attention turns to the fall of 2021. It will be the team's first full season since the fall of 2019.