ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — The second half spelled disaster for New Mexico as a 17-14 lead dissipated as San Jose State scored six of its first seven second-half drives, getting two long touchdowns and capitalizing on an interception for another score in a 24-0 third quarter as the Spartans handed UNM its 14th straight conference loss, this time by a final of 52-24.
San Jose State didn’t do much on offense early, but still took a 7-3 lead when a missed assignment led to a punt block, which turned into a scoop and score for Justin Stearns. Luke Drzewiecki opened the scoring for UNM with a season-long 41-yard field goal.
The touchdown before the half was Croskey-Merritt’s second touchdown of the half, as he finished off a drive in which UNM was able to respond after falling behind 7-3. On that drive early in the second quarter, UNM twice converted third and longs. The first was third-and-15, and Hopkins found Jeremiah Hixon for 19 yards and a first down. The second was when Hopkins hit Trace Bruckler for 12 on third-and-11.
The Lobos went into halftime with the lead thanks to a bit of fourth down trickery. After a third-and-9 run by Dylan Hopkins got the ball to the San Jose State 4-yard line, bringing up a fourth-and-1, UNM called a timeout and then used a direct snap to Croskey-Merritt, and he wasn’t even touched until he hit the goal line, and then he bullied his way in with 31 seconds left in the half to give UNM a 17-14 lead at the break.
The lead didn’t last, and UNM was hurt by the same thing that did them in the week before, long plays. San Jose State opened the second half with a 55-yard touchdown on a screen pass from Chevan Cordiero to Kairee Robinson, a play that looked like it might go for a loss. That gave San Jose State the lead back just 19 seconds into the half, and it expounded from there.
After a three-and-out by UNM, Nick Nash caught a 54-yard touchdown pass on a play-action fake that made it 28-17. After UNM forced a field goal, Dylan Hopkins threw an interception at the Lobo 23-yard line, and Robinson raced in for his third touchdown of the game, second on the ground. That made it 38-17, finishing off a 24-point third quarter.
The Lobos didn’t get a first down in the second half until early in the fourth quarter, and by then it was much too late. UNM was outscored 38-7 in the second half, getting outgained 375-130, and 95 of those came on UNM’s final drive, its only touchdown drive of the second half. Nothing went right in that half, with UNM going three-and-out four times, four-and-out once, and throwing a first-play interception from its own six-yard line before the final scoring drive. While that was happening, the Spartans used big play after big play, getting four plays of 50 yards or more in the second half.
Overall, San Jose State had five plays of 50 or more yards, all in the second half. UNM had allowed five such plays in the first five games of the season combined before Saturday night.