UNM Football: Ground game stalls again as Lobos fall to Aggies 30-28

For the second consecutive week, the UNM football team struggled to score points in the first half, and the vaunted Lobo rushing attack failed to move the ball on the ground. But unlike last week, when UNM came back from an early deficit to defeat Abilene Christian, the Lobos were not able to overcome a 30-5 third quarter deficit to defeat NMSU on Saturday evening at Dreamstyle stadium.

NMSU quarterback Tyler Rogers threw for 401 yards and four touchdowns, including an 81-yard TD pass to Izaiah Lottie to put the Aggies up 13-2 with 4:25 left in the first quarter. It was the first of two touchdown scores Lottie, a 6-0, 197 lbs. sophomore from Denver.

Star wide receiver Jaleel Scott delivered another solid game for head NMSU head coach Doug Martin, with eight catches for 91 yards and a score. On paper, the lanky 6-foot-6 wide receiver appeared to be a matchup nightmare for UNM’s young defense, and his size and athleticism proved to be a too much for the Lobos.

Untimely turnovers by the offense and a difficulty to move the ball on the ground doomed the Lobos in the game, as the nation’s top rushing offense from a year ago managed just 176 yards on 36 carries. Considering the fact that the Lobos averaged 350 yards per game in 2016, head coach Bob Davie knows his team is far from where they want to be after two games of the young season.

“There’s no sting in losing,” Davie said after the game. “The sting is when you don’t play as well as you’re capable of playing. That’s the sting.”

Perhaps the loss of graduating senior Teryion Gipson from last year’s squad is more of a factor that most writers and fans anticipated, as the stable of UNM backs are not getting the job done on the ground and the UNM offensive line is not dominating the line of scrimmage.

To overcome deficiencies in the ground game, Davie and offensive coordinator Bob DeBesse have been forced to rely more on their passing attack, which lacks the receiving weapons and quarterback play to keep up with potent offenses like NMSU’s.

Despite this fact, the Lobos nearly pulled off a Super Bowl LI-Esq 30-5 comeback with 23 fourth quarter points, capped by a 19-yard TD from quarterback Tevaka Tuioiti to Jay Griffin IV with just over a minute left in regulation.

But the Lobos would fall short of making the game-tying two point conversion and failed to convert the subsequent onside kick as the Aggies held on for a 30-28 victory.

The Lobos will need to solve their rushing woes this week in practice if they plan on having any chance of defeating the Boise State Broncos on the road next Saturday. Boise State enters the game with a 1-1 record after nearly knocking off No. 20 Washington State last week 47-44 in triple overtime.