The number one rushing offense in the nation faced off against the third-ranked rush defense in Colorado Springs on Friday night, as the Air Force Falcons hosted the New Mexico Lobos.
For the first half of the game, the vaunted Falcons triple-option had the upper hand on the Lobos, with Air Force scoring a rushing touchdown on all three of their drives, highlighted by two first-half scores by fullback Brad Roberts.
Earl on, the Lobos missed tackles and blew assignments, with Air Force running at will over Rocky Long’s defense.
The second half proved to be a different story, with UNM forcing the Falcons to punt on their opening drive of the second period and three forced fumbles on the subsequent three possessions for Air Force.
Rocky Long’s defense made the necessary adjustments in the second half, and the defense did its part by forcing three turnovers. The offense, on the other hand, could not sustain drives, and UNM’s special teams unit had a night to forget, with four missed field goals by George Steinkamp and Andrew Shelley.
The Falcons rushed for 366 yards and four touchdowns in the 28-0 victory.
Quarterback Haaziq Daniels had his best game of the season passing the ball, completing four of five passes for 66 yards, including a critical 28-yard pass to tight end Kyle Patterson on a third and 13-yard play in the first half that helped extend an Air Force drive. Instead of UNM taking possession of the ball and reversing momentum. The play led to the second rushing touchdown of the period for Air Force,
Roberts led all players with 177 rushing yards and three rushing touchdowns on 28 carries. The sophomore fullback did an excellent job filling in for starter Timothy Jackson, who missed the game with an injury.
New Mexico did not run the ball as well in this matchup as in their previous games. Four Lobos, led by Bobby Cole and Nathaniel Jones, combined to rush for 83 yards on 25 carries.
For the second time this season, the Lobos lost the game despite leading in turnover differential. Red Zone efficiency proved to be a deciding factor in this game, with the Falcons converting three of four red zone chances into touchdowns, while the Lobos failed to score even a field goal on their three red zone opportunities.
With the loss, New Mexico moves to 0-4 on the season and 0-13 dating back to last season. The Lobos will look to get their first win of the season against the Utah State Aggies in Logan, Utah, on Thanksgiving Day.
Like New Mexico, Utah State is looking for their first win of the season after four lopsided losses to Boise State, San Diego State, Nevada, and Fresno State.
The Falcons continue their season with a home matchup against Colorado State on Thanksgiving Day in Colorado Springs.
Image Credit: Justin Tafoya/UNM
Nevada quarterback Carson Strong set a Mountain West Conference record with his sixth consecutive game with 300 or more passing yards as the Wolf Pack overcame a slow start to beat the University of New Mexico Lobos 27-20 at Sam Boyd Stadium in Las Vegas on Saturday afternoon.
Strong completed 12 of 20 passes for 132 yards and a touchdown in the first half, including a costly interception with just over two minutes left in the first half that led to a George Steinkamp 48-yard field goal and a 13-10 halftime lead for the Lobos.
The 6’4”, 215 pound sophomore from Vacaville, California, would bounce back in the second half, with 208 passing yards and a pair of touchdown strikes to lead the Wolfpack to their fourth victory on the season.
“It’s cool I guess, but I’m really just kind of disappointed. I’m disappointed with how I played tonight,” said Strong after the game when asked about setting the record for consecutive 300-yard passing games.
“It falls on my shoulders a lot how we played, but we once we started moving the chains easier in the third quarter I started to find my rhythm, but that first half was brutal. I’m not proud of the way I played, and so I just want to be a lot better for the team next week.”
Trae Hall completed 17 of 32 passes for 195 yards and an interception, with 27 rushing yards on 16 carries for the Lobos. Running back Bobby Cole led UNM in rushing with 90 yards and a touchdown on 17 carries, while wide receiver Emmanuel Logan-Greene led the team in receiving with five catches for 56 yards.
The New Mexico offense had six big plays of over 15 yards passing and five rushing plays of over ten yards, but they were outgained 255 to 194 in the second half and could not keep the Wolf Pack’s passing attack under control down the stretch.
Despite failing to come out on top for the first victory under new head coach Danny Gonzales, the Lobos had a chance at coming through with an upset, down seven points and with possession of the ball with just over two minutes left in the game.
The Lobos started their final drive of the game on the Nevada 43 yard line with 2:34 seconds on the clock. A six-yard run by Cole and a six-yard reception from Logan-Greene gave the Lobos a first and ten on the Wolf Pack 31 yard line.
A dropped pass by Jordan Kress and an incomplete pass by Hall on second down left UNM with a third and long. Hall would complete a seven-yard pass to Andrew Erickson to give the team a manageable fourth and three, but Hall would miss Logan-Greene on his final pass of the game, and the Lobos turned the ball over on downs.
Had the Lobos scored on their final drive, head coach Danny Gonzales told reporters after the game that he was planning on going for two and not playing for overtime.
“If we score a touchdown there at the end, we are going for two. We’re not kicking the extra point and playing for overtime,” said Gonzales on his mindset heading into the final possession of the game.
“When you play a game against a team who you think is better than you, they would have the advantage in overtime. We wanted to try to go win it, and we had the momentum.”
Big plays continue to haunt the Lobo defense, as Nevada used three big plays in the passing game to take the lead and eventually win the game.
Regarding giving up big plays, coach Gonzales called it a broken record and something the team must fix going forward, as two of the big plays were busted assignments in his secondary.
On a positive note, the New Mexico defense sacked Strong twice and posted nine total tackles for losses, and the Lobos had just two accepted penalties in the game compared to six for the Wolf Pack.
Unfortunately, both of the accepted penalties on UNM were 15-yard pass interference infractions that came on third-down plays for Nevada.
With the loss, the Lobos fall to 0-3 on the season and will look for their first victory next weekend against the 1-2 Air Force Falcons in Colorado Springs.
Nevada moves to 4-0 and will host the 3-1 San Diego State in a showdown between two of the best teams in the Mountain West Conference on 11/21.
Photo Credit: Anthony Griego/UNM
Two University of New Mexico men’s basketball players tested positive for COIVD-19 last weekend. According to a release from the school, the two athletes are not experiencing symptoms.
Below is the full statement from UNM Director of Athletics, Eddie Nuñez:
“This past weekend, we had two positive Covid-19 test results in the men’s basketball program. Once the virus was identified, those two individuals were isolated and all team activities were paused for precautionary reasons. Since then, the entire team has been quarantined as we completed all contact tracing. During this time, the team has had two PCR tests with all results coming back negative (outside of the two individuals in isolation). During this time we have followed all protocols and worked with our medical team and our coaches to provide the resources necessary to manage this situation. The two student-athletes in isolation are doing well with no symptoms.”
The Mountain West Conference announced changes to the 2020-21 Men’s and Women’s Basketball schedule format on Monday afternoon.
According to the release, teams will play a 20-game schedule under a modified format that will take place over 11 weeks. Teams will face each other in a two-game series in the same week, with a one-day break between matchups.
Each team will have five home and five road series to reduce travel and mitigate virus exposure.
The new format will start in December and end in the final week of February. Per the release, this is a one-year model, and the league hopes to return to a full season schedule in 2021-22.
Just like the 2020 Presidential Election, it is not how you start but how you finish.
Tevaka Tuioti and the Lobos jumped out to an early 17-3 lead on the Rainbow Warriors at Aloha Stadium in Hawai’i on Saturday night, with two first quarter touchdowns to Jordan Kress and a 27-yard field goal by George Steinkamp.
The UNM defense started the game playing it’s best in quite some time, limiting Hawai’i to 14 first-half points, highlighted by a pair of interceptions by Jarrick Reed II.
UNM outgained Hawai’i 206 to 72 yards in the first quarter, as quarterback Chevan Cordeiro and the Rainbow Warrior offense failed to move the ball. The Lobos would head into the locker room enjoying a 20-14 lead, hoping to secure the first win of the Danny Gonzales era of UNM football.
Like the Biden/Harris ticket, the Warriors saved their best for the end.
Cordeiro completed 13 of 15 passes in the second half, for 223 yards and three touchdowns. He hit Zion Jones on a 40-yard strike with 11:55 left in the third quarter to give the Rainbow Warriors a 28-20 lead and sealed the victory with the eventual-game winning play with a 64-yard touchdown pass to Calvin Turner in the fourth quarter.
“I thought the fight was better. I thought we were more physical up front physically, and we were able to run the ball,” said UNM head coach Danny Gonzales in his post-game interview.” “But you can’t give up four long touchdowns in the passing game, especially two of them. If we just make a tackle, we can get the ball down and get to play defense again.”
New Mexico would make things interesting with a 26-yard touchdown rush by freshman Nathaniel Jones in the third quarter, and the Lobos took a 30-28 lead on a field goal by Steinkamp with 13:31 left in the game. It was the first rushing touchdown for Jones, a true freshman from St. John Bosco High School in Bellflower, California.
Despite their best efforts, the passing attack of the Rainbow Warriors proved to be too much for the Lobo defense, with Hawai’i pulling away late for a 39-33 victory.
On the positive side, the Lobos posted 499 yards of total offense, giving them back-to-back games of 400 yards or more. On the negative side, UNM lost the game despite winning the turnover battle 3-1.
The Lobos continue the 2020 season next week in a neutral-site matchup against Nevada at Sam Boyd Stadium in Las Vegas.
Still searching for the first win of the Danny Gonzales era of UNM Football, the Lobos face a difficult task against a Nevada team that ranks 9th in the nation in total offense.