Aggies, winless Cajuns in Thursday game

Updated: October 15, 2003, 4:10 PM ET

LAS CRUCES, N.M. -- New Mexico State has already ended one losing streak. It doesn't want to halt another one.

Two weeks ago the Aggies took on an Idaho team that was 0-5 and led the Vandals 21-0 at halftime. Idaho rallied for a 35-31 win.

Thursday night the Aggies are at Louisiana-Lafayette, another team looking for its first win this season. The Ragin' Cajuns, 0-7 overall, have faced a tough schedule that included losses to South Carolina, Louisiana Tech, Minnesota and Oklahoma State.

NMSU is 1-5 overall and 0-2 in the Sun Belt. Louisiana-Lafayette is 0-3 in the league and both coaches know time is running short for a turnaround.

"Hungry! We're damn near starving," said Cajuns coach Rickey Bustle.

"Both teams are scrapping to get a win," says NMSU's Tony Samuel. "We'll take one any way we can."

The Aggies' only win was against Division II member Western New Mexico. Since then they've lost four straight, including a 35-18 loss last week to Middle Tennessee. In the loss to Idaho, the Vandals scored the game-winner -- the fifth touchdown pass of the second half by quarterback Brian Lindgren -- on a short pass with 14 seconds left in the game.

It has been a disappointing season for New Mexico State, one of the preseason favorites to win the Sun Belt. Instead, turnovers and a defense that has given up too many big plays have hurt the Aggies.

NMSU has 18 turnovers -- nine interceptions and nine fumbles. In the loss to Idaho, the Aggies were at the Idaho 7-yard line with just over a minute left when NMSU halfback Tony Joseph fumbled and the Vandals recovered. Idaho then went 94 yards in five plays and 55 seconds to win it.

"Turnovers have flat blown their foot off," Bustle said. "They're not just shooting themselves in the foot with them."

Bustle obviously has seen a good deal of film on the Aggies' season.

Last week against Middle Tennessee the Aggies lost a potential touchdown in the first half when Chris Lumpkin caught a pass at the Middle Tennessee 1, but fumbled the ball out of the end zone to end the drive.

"I keep telling people that we're not a bad team," says defensive end Greg Scaffidi. "Things haven't fallen our way."

The stats support Scaffidi's assessment.

NMSU is averaging 404 yards a game in total offense and nearly 23 points a game. But the defense is giving up nearly 32 points a game.

"We are executing offensively ... we are giving up some big plays," Samuel said. "When we take care of the turnovers, we are putting a good team on the field."

Bustle too looks for the good in a season where the Cajuns are giving up an average of more than 37 points and 454 yards a game.

"I've tried to find something positive to build on," he said. "You can only beat them down so far. If we do things right, it gives us a chance. The players are resilient."

This story is from's automated news wire. Wire index