Utah State 45, New Mexico Lobos 10
By Richard Stevens – Senior Writer/GoLobos.com
There is an adage in life and sports about how sometimes you eat the bear and sometimes the bear eats you. The Lobos definitely were not dining on bear meat Saturday night on Branch Field in a 45-10 Mountain West loss to Utah State.
Give Lobo Coach Bob Davie credit. He did not try to whitewash this 35-point defeat. He gave the bear – Utah State – it’s due.
“They (Utah State) were every bit as good as I thought they’d be,” said Davie. “They overwhelmed us.
“We were humbled and now is not the time for a lot of talk. Anytime you get smacked in the face like we just did, it’s not a good time to talk about overall plans and where you are headed.”
Where the Lobos are headed this coming week is into a bye week. After that, the Lobos visit a talented San Diego State team in California.
“I think next week will be a very productive week for us and we definitely need it right now,” said Davie. “I’m concerned that we are not physical enough (on defense) to stop someone. We get overwhelmed at times. When everything has to be perfect on defense, you have problems.
“Their offensive line was so much more powerful than we were as a football team.”
The Aggies gave the Lobos problems on both sides of the ball. Utah State shutdown the New Mexico option throughout the game, held UNM to 43 yards rushing in the first half, and put this Mountain West win away in that half by rolling into the locker room with a 31-3 halftime lead.
The game did not start well for the Lobos and a young, rebuilding UNM program could not afford a bad start against one of the more experienced football teams in college ball.
The Lobos fumbled on their first offensive series. They went backwards on three consecutive plays with Clayton Mitchem fumbling on third down. The Aggies scored a touchdown on their first offensive play.
“We were wobbly again from the beginning because we turned it over,” said Davie. “We turned the ball over on the first series of the game. They line up on their first offensive series and score. Then we never had any field position because we got nothing (out of returns).”
The Lobos (2-5, 0-3 MW) came out in the second half needing to make a few statements on offense and defense. The Aggies spoke first and iced the game by opening the third quarter with a touchdown drive that pushed UNM into a deep 38-3 hole. DeMartino scored that one from 38 yards out.
Utah State (4-4, 3-1 MW) went up 45-3 on a 72-yard run by Jaron Bentrude at the 8:00 mark of the fourth quarter.
However, the first half was the killer. The Aggies didn’t dominate the statistics in the first half as much as they dominated the scoreboard. Utah State had 230 total yards to 149 for the Lobos. However, the UNM option was held to 43 yards in the first half. The Aggies ran for 102 yards and added 128 in the air for their 230 total. The Aggies also were aided in the first half by good field position.
UNM’s Kasey Carrier had 33 yards in the first half, but Utah State’s Joey DeMartino ran for 96 yards on 10 carries for a 9.6 average. The Lobos provided some self-inflicted harm by fumbling away the ball on their first possession. Utah State took over at the UNM 8-yard line and DeMartino scored on the Aggies’ first play from scrimmage.
Utah State went up 17-0 after one quarter and UNM made it 17-3 on a 24-yard Justus Adams field goal. The Aggies then scored twice to carry their 31-3 lead into the half. Utah State scored on a 32-yard run by DeMartino and Bruce Natson stunned University Stadium with a 65-yard punt return with 1:47 left in the second quarter.
Natson later had another punt return for a score nullified by a penalty. He had a career-high five punt returns for a career-high 102 yards.
“It was a reality check,” Davie said of the 45-10 count. “They’re better than us. But there are some things that happened that shouldn’t happen. There are things we need to do better right now in the immediate future.”
The Lobos used three quarterbacks on Saturday – Cole Gautsche, Clayton Mitchem and David Vega. Vega led UNM to its only score at the 6:21 mark of the final quarter. Carrier took the ball over the line from two yards out. Utah State had a season-high six sacks vs. UNM.
“It’s kind of muddy right now,” Davie said of his quarterback situation. “I think Cole gives us the best chance to win and I think he’ll be fully healthy when we go to San Diego State.” Davie explained that UNM still needs to lean to the option in order to move the football and Gautsche is the best Lobo to run the option.
DeMartino had a career-high 144 rushing yards vs. New Mexico and scored three touchdowns. The Aggies had a season-high 337 rushing yards.
The Aggies gave freshman quarterback Darell Garretson his first collegiate start. Garretson went 15-of-23 for 144 yards.
The Lobos were held to under 300 yards totaling 298 with 158 coming on the ground and 140 via the pass. Utah State had 492 total yards with 337 coming off the rush. Utah State averaged 8.0 yards per rushing attempt and UNM averaged 3.8 yards per carry. UNM won the clock battle 33:27 to 26:20.
Carrier finished the game with 69 yards on 14 carries and Vega had 45 yards on six carries. Gautsche had only four carries for seven yards. Mitchem went 6-of-10 passing for 76 yards and Vega went 4-of-7 for 30 yards.