Charles Puleri threw for two touchdowns and ran for another, and fullback Lawrence Truehill added a pair of fourth quarter TDs as New Mexico State defeated Weber State, 37-21, Saturday night.
It was the first time the Aggies had won a season opener since 1981. The loss dropped Weber State's all-time record against NCAA Division 1-A opponents to to 1-25.Weber State led 6-2 late in the second quarter, when Puleri marched the Aggies 60 yards on 10 plays, including a nine-yard touchdown pass to Ezell Brown with 3:29 remaining in the half.
Then with 49 seconds left, NMSU linebacker Bryan Duplessis intercepted a pass from Jamie Martin at the Weber State 21. Five plays later Puleri hit Brown for a second TD, with one second remaining in the half, making it 16-6 at intermission.
Aggie coach Jim Hess said that with three NMSU turnovers, it was one of the worst halves of football he had ever seen.
The Aggies opened the second half the way it ended the first. Weber State punter Roy Hudson fumbled on his own 4 in the first series of the half. On the next play, Puleri ran for a TD.
Weber narrowed it to 23-13 late in the quarter on a 72-yard pass from Martin to Nate Burchette, but the Aggies locked up the game as Truehill scored a pair of TDs on the Aggies' first two possessions in the fourth period on runs of seven and 18 yards.
"There were way, way too many turnovers. A lot of it was first game nerves, trying to do too much," Hess said. "The passing game was totally out of synch."
"This is a big win, and it will help us psychologically," Hess said.
Martin, the defending Walter Payton Award winner as the outstanding player in Division 1-AA, had a substandard night for him, completing 17 of 34 passes for 245 yards and two touchdowns with one interception. The Wildcats rushed for just 78 yards as a team.
Wildcat coach Dave Arslanian said he was pleased with the play of the defense, but the offense and the special teams didn't perform as he had hoped.