Nov. 24, 2012
New Mexico Lobos Football - Mountain West - At Colorado State
Saturday: Colorado State 24, New Mexico 20
By Richard Stevens - Senior Writer/GoLobos.com
It came down to the final three seconds, a final pass, with New Mexico and Colorado State needing to come up with a huge play in order to steal a win or preserve a win.
And, of course, there were a whole lot of other plays that ended up affecting the final score that favored Colorado State by four.
The Rams made the last play, tipping away a third-down desperation B.R. Holbrook pass into the end zone. The ball ended on the ground preserving a 24-20 win the Rams earned by marching 76 yards in 1:37 to erase a 20-17 New Mexico lead.
The Lobos had taken their first lead of the game - 20-17 - at the 3:12 mark of the fourth quarter on a 55-yard TD pass from Holbrook to Jhurell Pressley. That drive came after a fourth-down stop by the UNM defense.
"It's really kind of the same story. It's exactly the same story," said Lobo Coach Bob Davie, who said that in most Mountain West games, "we had the ball at the end with a chance to win it or tie it."
This time the Lobos had a chance only to win it. They needed a touchdown on their last gasp, their last drive, and it didn't come.
The Lobos did make it gut-wrenching. They took over at their 25-yard line with 1:29 to play and marched to the CSU 16-yard line where Holbrook took three stabs at the Rams' end zone before the clock died.
None of them ended up in Lobo hands.
The Lobos ended the season 4-9 overall, 1-7 in Mountain West play and riding a six-game losing streak into the off-season.
"I thought B.R. would play well tonight," said Davie. "He was able to come back and on the final play of his career he almost had a chance to have a magical moment."
The Lobos didn't exactly play well in this Mountain West contest, but it was a gut-check rally for a New Mexico team that was knocked to the canvas 14-0 in the first quarter.
The Lobos did not give up their end zone again until Colorado State scored their go-ahead TD with 1:29 to play.
A big play in the fourth quarter came when CSU decided to go for it on 4th-and-one at the New Mexico 48-yard line with under eight minutes to play. Ram Chris Nwoke plowed for three yards, but the apparent first down was negated by a CSU personal foul. The Rams had to punt.
The Lobos took over on the NM 3-yard line with 7:27 to play and marched to the Lobos' go-ahead score. It was a 97-yard drive.
The Lobo defense had a chance to win the game in the final two minutes of play when CSU was again looking at a key fourth-down play - 4th-and-two on the CSU 49-yard line. Nwoke ran for six yards and Ram quarterback Connor Smith hit back-to-back passes of 15 and 30 yards to produce the CSU score.
"I couldn't be more proud of these players and our coaches," said Davie. "We've made a lot of progress, but for us to get to the next level and win these kinds of games, it's going to take a lot of work."
The Rams dominated the statistics, especially in the first half when they went up 17-7. The Rams finished with 413 total yards to 342 for UNM. For a change, UNM had more passing yards (205) than rushing yards (137).
"We weren't able to run the ball very well," said Davie. "We never had any rhythm running the ball and we needed to throw it."
"I'm really happy for Kasey," said Davie. "Really, there were no easy yards tonight. It's really amazing that this team can have the all-time leading rusher (season) at New Mexico and end up fourth or fifth in the nation in rushing."
Holbrook went 12-of-21 passing for 205 yards and one score. Cole Gautsche, who did not practice most of the week battling the flu, had 41 yards rushing.
CSU quarterback Conner Smith went 19-of-26 for 254 yards and two touchdowns. Donnell Alexander had 112 yards and Nwoke had 49 yards. CSU ends the season 4-8 and 3-5 in Mountain play.
First Half: Colorado State 17, New Mexico 7
It was a bad start for the Lobos, but statistically, it could have been worse on the scoreboard.
The Rams had 253 total yards in the first half to 58 for the Lobos. UNM had 47 yards on the ground. The Lobos had two first downs and CSU had 17. The Rams had 123 yards on the ground and 130 passing. The Lobos only reached the end zone because Dallas Bollema intercepted a CSU pass and set up the Lobo offense on the Rams' 3-yard line.
The CSU Rams opened the game on their 25-yard line and went the 75 yards in six plays. The final two plays were a 22-yard run by Chris Nwoke and a 29-yard scoring pass from Connor Smith to Joe Hansley. At the 12:18 mark, CSU was up 7-0.
The Lobos started B.R. Holbrook, who threw on first down, incomplete toward Ty Kirk. UNM went three-and-out and punted. CSU got an extra 15 yards on a Kirk personal foul and started at their 39. CSU marched again, but UNM had a chance to hold looking at a 4th-and-one at the UNM 3-yard line. Alexander bulled into the end zone and the home team went up 14-0.
The Lobos again went three-and-out and Ben Skaer punted. UNM's junior linebacker, Dallas Bollema, set the Lobo offense up by picking off a Smith pass at the CSU 38 and returning it to the CSU 3-yard line. Carrier scored on his third attempt and UNM was on the board, down 14-7 with 51 seconds left in the first quarter.
That first quarter score wasn't bad for UNM considering CSU had 171 yards to 14 for UNM, which also had no first downs in the quarter. CSU got a field goal in the second quarter to take the 17-7 lead into the halftime.
Editor's Note: Richard Stevens is a former award-winning Sports Columnist and Associate Sports Editor at The Albuquerque Tribune. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.