AMHERST, Mass. — In a game filled with twists and turns, the New Mexico Lobos endured a rollercoaster of emotions, ultimately emerging victorious with a heart-stopping 34-31 overtime win against UMass. The thrilling victory marked the end of UNM’s nine-game road losing streak and evened their season record at 2-2. It also provided a much-needed boost as the team prepares to open conference play at Wyoming, the site of UNM’s last road win.
As overtime began, UNM’s decision to put their defense on the field paid off. UMass’ Ahmad Heston, who had delivered a miraculous 65-yard touchdown pass in the final minute of regulation, faced intense pressure from Destin Gainer and Tyler Kiehne on a crucial third-and-four play. This led to a field goal attempt by UMass’ Cameron Carson, which he successfully converted from 34 yards out. Despite giving UMass its first lead of the game, the field goal gave UNM’s offense a chance.
With the ball in their hands, UNM’s offense faced a pivotal moment. On third-and-8, Dylan Hopkins targeted Caleb Medford in the end zone, only for interference to be called on the UMass defense, granting UNM a first down at the 8-yard line. Hopkins then powered his way inside the 1-yard line, and a delay of game penalty against UMass didn’t move the ball but did result in an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty against UMass head coach Don Brown. This extra down proved invaluable.
On second-and-goal from the two-yard line, Jacory Croskey-Merritt let his offensive line do the hard work, diving behind the left side of the line to score from 2-yards out, securing the dramatic win for UNM.
Overtime was far from the Lobos’ minds after taking a commanding 28-14 lead into halftime, scoring touchdowns on four consecutive drives. The Lobos’ offensive prowess was on full display as Hopkins connected with Medford for a 12-yard opening score, followed by Croskey-Merritt’s 21-yard touchdown run. Although UMass responded with a 2-yard Kay’Ron Lynch-Adams touchdown run, UNM quickly reclaimed control.
Deuce Jones’ remarkable one-handed catch converted a long third down, allowing Hopkins to rush for a 4-yard touchdown, putting UNM ahead 21-7. UMass answered with a 24-yard touchdown pass, but the Lobos replied in kind, with Sherod White capping off a drive with a 7-yard rushing touchdown to secure a 28-14 halftime lead.
UNM faced offensive struggles in the second half, gaining only 50 yards. UMass capitalized on this by scoring two field goals from Cameron Carson (32 and 28 yards). They then delivered a stunning 65-yard touchdown pass with just 45 seconds remaining in regulation, tying the game with a successful two-point conversion.
Although UNM failed to score in the second half, their defense consistently made significant plays to halt drives or force field goals. Notably, Syaire Riley and Tavian Combs stopped a fourth-and-1 play in UMass territory, while Christian Ellis made two critical fourth-down plays, breaking up a fourth-and-3 pass and tackling an opponent two yards short of a conversion.