LAS CRUCES, New Mexico - Who cares it it's against FCS competition? A win is a win for New Mexico State, who earned their first victory in a Division I game since November of 2019 on Saturday night.
Third-string walk-on QB Dino Maldonado played a near perfect first half to lead the Aggies to a 43-35 win over South Carolina State at Aggie Memorial Stadium.
Maldonado, who was making his first career start with starter Jonah Johnson and backup Weston Eget out due to injury, led the Aggies to touchdowns on each of their five drives to help NMSU race out to a 36-13 halftime lead.
The Santa Maria, California native certainly did not play like a walk-on on the opening drive, going 4-4 with 51 yards passing to set up Juwaun Price's 14-yard TD run.
Michigan transfer O'Maury Samuels scored his first Aggies' touchdown on the next drive, a third yard run in which he dragged multiple Bulldog defenders into the end zone.
After a couple rushing touchdowns, Maldonado started airing it out towards the end zone. He connected with Jared Wyatt for a 30-yard score to begin the second quarter and then hit Isaiah Garcia-Castaneda from 41 yards out to make it 36-13.
The Bulldogs closed the margin in the second half, despite the Aggies forcing three turnovers on the defensive end. Trailing by eight with just over a minute to play, South Carolina State got the football back on their own three yard line.
But Nick Giacolone picked off Corey Fields Jr. to seal the Aggies' first win of 2021.
Despite Maldonado's sensational effort in the first half, New Mexico State Head COach Doug Martin was noncommittal about a quarterback moving forward after the game.
NEXT: New Mexico State hosts Hawaii next Saturday at 6pm MT at Aggie Memorial Stadium. It's the Aggies' last home game until November 6th vs. Utah State.