UNM fans who attended last week’s Rio Grande Rivalry game at DreamStyle Stadium were treated to 107 combined points and 1087 total yards in a 55-52 win for the Lobos over their in-state rival NM State Aggies.
In this week’s game against the Liberty Flames, offense and yards came much more difficult for the Lobos, with Liberty edging out UNM for a 17-10 victory.
Tevaka Tuioti completed 12 of 26 passes for 130 yards, with one touchdown and two interceptions, and Ahmari Davis rushed for a game-high 99 yards on 18 carries to lead the Lobos.
Stephen Calvert led the Flames offensive attack with 306 passing yards and two touchdowns, while wide receiver Antonio Gandy-Golden, the leading receiver in FCS entering the game, caught six passes for 144 yards and a touchdown.
An inability to defend the pass has been something that has plagued UNM throughout the season, and Calvert’s ability to pick apart the Lobo secondary proved to be a deciding factor in the game.
The two teams exchanged non-scoring possessions in to start the first quarter of play, with the Flames turning over the ball on downs to open the game and Tuioti throwing the first of his two interceptions on the first possession for the Lobos.
Calvert hit Gandy-Golden on a three-yard touchdown pass as time expired in the first quarter to give the Flames a 7-0 lead.
The Lobos would quickly respond on the next drive with an impressive 52-yard field goal by freshman kicker Andrew Shelley. Shelley is now five-for-five on the season from beyond 40 yards, and the 52-yard kick was the sixth-longest kick in UNM history.
Momentum appeared to be going in favor of the Lobos with a fumble on the subsequent drive by Calvert, but the Lobos could not capitalize on the turnover and would not score another point until the 2:12 mark of the fourth quarter.
The Lobos would mount five drives in the second half, inclined a 10-play, 77-yard drive that ended with Tuioti coming up short on a fourth-down run to the Liberty three-yard line. Tuioti would hit Aaron Molina on a 14-yard strike with 43 seconds left on the game clock, but the Lobos would not convert their on-side kick attempt.
The loss moves the Lobos to 2-2 on the season and 0-2 in the all-time series between the two schools. UNM kicks off Mountain West Conference play on the road against San Jose State on Friday night before returning to DreamStyle Stadium to take on Colorado State on October 11th.