Diego Pavia Punishes Auburn as New Mexico State Tames the Tigers in Week 12 Upset

Diego Pavia punished Auburn with a three touchdown performance as New Mexico State provided the biggest upset of college football Week 12.

Hugh Freeze has had a quarterback situation to resolve all season long at Auburn. No such problems for Jerry Kill with the New Mexico State Aggies. Diego Pavia has helped take the program to the CUSA Championship Game, and on Saturday afternoon in Jordan Hare Stadium, the dynamic dual-threat helped cause one of the upsets of the college football season.

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Diego Pavia Leads New Mexico State to Upset Win

Facing a 4th & 2 inside their own half to open the fourth quarter, New Mexico State head coach Kill showed no mercy to his opposite number, dialing up a fake punt, which tight end Ron Tiavaasue ran for 23 yards to pick up a first down.

Over five minutes and double-digit plays later, Pavia placed a pass into the arms of Eli Stowers for a two-yard touchdown and a 24-10 lead.

The SEC might pride itself on the motto of “It Just Means More,” but in Jordan Hare Stadium Saturday night, it was the CUSA crew led by Kill and Pavia who wanted it more.

The Aggies weren’t scared of the moment and showcased the swagger and resolve that has led them to a season of unprecedented proportions for the program, with the stones to make big play after big play.

It hasn’t always been perfect for Pavia this season. The New Mexico State quarterback found himself in hot water after releasing a different kind of water in a very public place, but he’s owned his mistake and emerged as the leader of a team that is undoubtedly one of the feel-good stories of the 2023 college football campaign.

The former JUCO standout, who shone in his first season with the Aggies but has been playing at a different level altogether this season, opened the scoring against Auburn on Saturday, finding Kordell David for a 9-yard touchdown that put the nation on upset alert.

So often, these early leads get quickly reversed and forgotten about, and when Peyton Thorne found Rivaldo Fairweather for a 32-yard touchdown that tied things up in the second quarter, that seemed to be the case.

Yet Pavia, Kill, and the rest of this New Mexico State football program showed they weren’t here simply to make up the numbers on a traditionally soft schedule for the SEC in Week 12.

Ethan Albertson’s 40-yard field goal ensured the Aggies took a lead into the half, and Auburn wouldn’t get on the scoreboard again until knocking through a field goal of their own with 5:29 left in the fourth quarter.

The second half, and the game, belonged to Pavia. The New Mexico State quarterback found running back Star Thomas for a 17-yard score midway through the third quarter to extend the lead before the game-sealing pass to former Texas A&M QB turned New Mexico State offensive weapon Eli Stowers that made the score 24-7.

Running back Makhilyn Young finished the scoring with a 2-yard touchdown run that put the icing on the cake of a 31-10 victory, their biggest upset loss for Auburn in the last 45 years.

Pavia ended the day with 201 passing yards and three touchdowns, flashing his dual-threat capability with 35 rushing yards on eight carries. The New Mexico State QB is a former three-sport high school standout — who flashed his state-champion wrestling background with a suplex move in the first quarter.

Kill’s team faces a CUSA regular-season finale against Jacksonville State before returning to Lynchburg for the second time this season, looking to avenge the early-season loss to Liberty when the two teams contest the CUSA Championship Game.

A win over the Flames would arguably cap the greatest season of head coach Kill’s storied career.

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