Oct. 27, 2003
The streaking New Mexico Lobos open a key three-game homestand Saturday when they host the UNLV Rebels. Kickoff is 6:07 p.m. Mountain Time from University Stadium in Albuquerque. SportsWest will televise the game live with KRQE-TV in Albuquerque providing local coverage. The telecast will also be available nationally through ESPN's GamePlan service. New Mexico has won four straight while the Rebels have dropped three in a row. MWC teams enter the week 6-9 in conference home games.
The Lobos are 5-3 overall and 2-1 in the MWC after spanking 23rd-ranked Utah 47-35, in Salt Lake City. It's UNM's first victory over a ranked team on the road in 28 years and it halted an eight-game losing skid to ranked teams overall. Ironically, the Lobos' last victory over a ranked opponent was Utah in 1994. New Mexico begins the final month of the MWC season tied in the loss column with Air Force (3-1), Utah (3-1) and Colorado State (2-1).
After starting 1-3, the Lobos are riding their first four-game winning streak since a 6-0 start to the 1997 season. New Mexico completed its first unbeaten October (3-0) since the 1959 team went 5-0. UNM is 11-4 in October games since 1999. The Lobos are 6-2 in November since 2001.
UNLV is 4-4 overall and 0-3 in league action following a 27-20 overtime loss to BYU. The Rebels once led 13-0. UNLV started the year 4-1, including a win at nationally-ranked Wisconsin, but has lost its last three. The Rebels are 2-2 away from Las Vegas this season.
A victory Saturday would move senior QB Casey Kelly (Portland, Ore.) into the No. 2 spot on the school's all-time win list. Jim Cromartie is the career leader at 18-6 from 1960-62. Kelly, 16-11 as a starter at UNM, is currently tied with his head coach, Rocky Long, and Stan Quintana. Long was 16-10-2 in 28 starts from 1969-71. Quintana was 16-11 from 1963-65.
A win would also guarantee New Mexico its third straight non-losing season for the first time since a seven-year run from 1958-64. The Lobos are 18-15 since 2001.
Senior OT Jason Lenzmeier (Frisco, Texas) became the first offensive lineman in MWC history to be named Offensive Player of the Week for his performance against Utah. Lenzmeier helped pave the way for UNM to register 633 yards of total offense, the 8th-best total in school history. The Lobos produced 407 yards on the ground as DonTrell Moore and D.D. Cox both ran for more than 100 yards and FB Adrian Byrd got 98. Lenzmeier received a 99% assignment grade and had 15 knockdown blocks.
The Lobos are 6-1 in their last seven contests at University Stadium. They have also won eight of the past 10 and 11 of 14 at home. New Mexico was 3-0 at home against MWC teams last year and it has won six of its past eight league games in Albuquerque. UNM has captured eight of its last nine home games against non-conference competition.
There are four games remaining in the regular season. The Lobos went 4-1 in their last five games in 2001 and in '02. The lone loss each year was to Colorado State.
New Mexico ranks 1st in the conference in scoring offense (31.2 ppg) and is 2nd in total offense (412.5 ypg). UNLV is allowing just 22.8 points and 357.8 yards a game. The Lobos also boast the nation's 6th-best defense against the run at 74.1 yards a game and has yielded just 173 yards rushing the past three games. The Rebels are averaging 136.6 rushing yards a game. They are 7th in the league in scoring offense (20.1 ppg) and last in total offense (320.3 ypg).
THE UNLV SERIES -
New Mexico and UNLV meet for the 11th time and each team has five wins. The Lobos have won two straight and lead 3-1 in MWC games. They also have a 4-2 advantage in games played at University Stadium.
The Lobos got their first-ever win in Las Vegas last year with reserve QB Justin Millea (my-LAY) leading the way in the 25-16 decision. Playing for the injured Casey Kelly, Millea got the starting nod just three days before the game. He proceeded to be named MWC Offensive Player of the Week after rushing for 148 yards, including a 73-yard TD in the third quarter. The Lobos also recorded their first defensive PAT on an interception by Brandon Ratcliff that provided a 23-16 lead in the fourth quarter.
UNM won 27-17 two years ago in Albuquerque, blanking the Rebels for the last 2 1/2 quarters. New Mexico held the Rebels to 266 yards.
UNLV NOTES -
UNLV finished 5-7 in 2002, including a tie for fifth in the the MWC at 3-4. The Rebels return 37 lettermen, including 13 starters. Head coach John Robinson is in his fifth season at UNLV where he has a 24-31 ledger. Robinson has a 128-66-4 overall record, including 12 years at Southern Cal. The 1958 Oregon graduate is 1-3 against UNM.
The Rebels have scored just 37 points in three MWC games. They have not surpassed 20 points in their past four games after averaging 27 points in their first four contests.
UNLV is seeking the program's 200th win. The Rebels are 199-197-4 all-time through 36 seasons. WR Michael Johnson has caught a pass in 28 straight games while WR Earvin Johnson's streak is at 26 games in a row. Earvin Johnson, the MWC's second-leading receiver with more than six receptions a game, caught 7 passes for 108 yards and a TD against BYU.
UTAH RECAP -
In a game matching two of the best defensive teams in the league, the Lobo offense claimed the headlines by churning out 633 yards - 407 on the ground - in a convincing 47-35 victory over the league-leading Utes.
The game began like most thought it would with a scoreless first quarter and the two teams combining for just 134 yards. The Utes got on the board first after DonTrell Moore (Roswell, N.M.) fumbled inside the Lobo 20, setting up Mike Liti's 2-yard run. New Mexico answered with a 1-yard TD run by Moore. D.D. Cox's (Westminster, Colo.) 45-yard gallop was the key play of the drive.
For the second week in a row, the Lobos' Billy Strother (Evansville, Ind.) scored on a blocked punt in the second quarter to change momentum. Freshman Jonathan Harrell (Everman, Texas) came right up the middle to reject the kick and Strother scored easily from the 3. Wez Zunker's PAT was no good, however.
After the first of several long kickoff returns on the day, Utah needed just six plays to go 55 yards and take its last lead of the afternoon on a 21-yard TD pass. Getting the ball with 1:59 before halftime, UNM marched to the Utah 7 where it settled for a 24-yard FG by Wes Zunker (New Braunfels, Texas) and a 16-14 lead at the break.
Just as they had in their last three games before Saturday, the Lobos scored on their opening drive of the second half. It took all of nine seconds as Casey Kelly hooked up with WR Adrian Boyd (Flint, Mich.) on a 57-yard TD. It was Boyd's first career TD. After a Utah punt, UNM needed just two plays and 13 seconds for its next score. Kelly tossed 40 yards to WR Dwight Counter (Lancaster, Texas) then Cox scored from the 20 to make it 30-14 less than four minutes into the quarter. A pair of Zunker FGs and a 35-yard cross-field option scamper by Moore gave UNM a 44-20 advantage at the end of the third period.
In the decisive third quarter, New Mexico scored 28 points and totaled a staggering 270 yards of offense. It's the most points the Lobos have ever scored in the third quarter of a football game.
Utah was held to just 300 yards, 70 of those coming on its closing drive. UNM made it somewhat easy for the Ute offense as it only had to travel 18, 11 and 20 yards for three of its four TDs. Utah had 71 yards rushing in the first quarter, but only nine thereafter.
NOTES FROM UTAH -
The 47 points are the most scored in Salt Lake City since a 58-49 loss in 1985. It's the most points in a road game since a 56-31 victory at New Mexico State in 1994 and the highest output in a league road game since a 49-47 defeat at BYU, also in '94.
The 633 yards rank 8th-best all-time for a Lobo team and are the most since UNM had a school-record 691 yards in a 41-39 loss at Utah in 1989. Four of the Lobos' top-nine offensive performances have now come against the Utes.
The 407 yards rushing are the most since UNM gained 423 against New Mexico State in 1997.
Moore (119) and Cox (106) both surpassed 100 yards on the ground. The last time UNM had two players hit 100 was 1996 when the late Donald Sellers (126) and Lennox Gordon (109) did so against Rice. The Lobos came close to having three reach the century mark as FB Adrian Byrd (Missouri City, Texas) ran for a career-high 98 yards, including a career-best 78-yard jaunt. Additionally, Casey Kelly rambled for a season-high 68 yards on 15 carries.
Coming into the game, the Utah defense was allowing an average of just 17.4 ppg, 105 yards rushing and 337.3 total yards. In three prior games before UNM came calling, the Utes had yielded just 29 total points and 214 rushing yards.
Kelly completed just 9 of 23 passes, but he had the long ball going for a total of 226 yards, or 25.1 yards per completion. Kelly had 294 yards of total offense.
After no points in the first quarter, the Lobos scored on seven straight offensive possessions in the second and third periods, gaining 482 yards of offense in the process.
The five starters on the offensive line - C Ryan Cook (Albuquerque), OT Justin Colburn (Westminster, Colo.), OT Jason Lenzmeier (Frisco, Texas), OG Claude Terrell (LaMarque, Texas) and OG Robert Turner (Austin, Texas) - all had assignment grades of 95% or higher and at least 12 knockdowns apiece. Lenzmeier was best at 99% while Cook had a team-high 16 KDs.
DonTrell Moore finished with a game-high 119 yards on just 18 carries, including TD runs of 1 and 35 yards. He also was on the receiving end of a 44-yard screen pass, plus 27 yards in kickoff returns for a total of 187 all-purpose yards. Moore has five 100-yard rushing games this season and nine for his career. The season record for 100-yard games is six held by Mike Williams (1976), Winslow Oliver (1992) and Lennox Gordon (1996). Moore has 13 TDs on the season, which leads the MWC and is one score shy of Stoney Case's season record set in 1993. He is now 13th on the UNM rushing list with 1,856 yards. Moore ranks 4th all-time at New Mexico with 26 rushing TDs and 5th with 28 total TDs.
Moore has surpassed 100 yards in his last five home games. The Roswell native is averaging 124 yards in his past seven home games and also has 16 TDs in that span.
D.D. Cox hit the 100-yard mark for the second time this season with 106 yards on only 14 carries. He scored on a 20-yard run and also had a 45-yard burst. Following his 187-yard effort at Texas Tech, Cox was troubled by an ankle sprain for a month. However, the past two games he has gained 174 yards on 29 totes.
Senior LB Daniel Gawronski (Marshville, N.C.) had a career-high 12 tackles, including a tackle for a loss and a 29-yard fumble return that set up a Lobo FG.
Despite not starting, senior DE Daniel Kegler (Frostproof, Fla.) had a 5-yard sack and caused a fumble. He's only started two games, but Kegler leads the MWC with 5 sacks. Fellow senior DE D.J. Renteria (Roswell, N.M.) had a pair of sacks, giving him three on the season.
UNM blocked its second punt of the season and now has 13 redirects since the start of the 2000 season. Five of those blocks have been returned for TDs.
With TDs the past two weeks on blocked punts, Billy Strother now has three career defensive scores. He scored on a lateral after a fumble last year against Weber State.
Wes Zunker connected on all four of his FG attempts (24, 23, 36, 24) and has now made 10 in a row since a miss at Texas Tech. The school record for consecutive FGs made is 16 by Vladimir Borombozin between 2000-01. Zunker is 10 of 11 on the season, the best accuracy in the MWC. The Lobos hit just 5 of 10 FGs in 2002. Zunker has connected on his last three tries from 40 yards or longer.
After no receptions the previous two games, Adrian Boyd lassoed three for a team-high 87 yards. Surprisingly, Boyd scored his first career TD when he hauled in a 57-yard bomb on UNM's first play of the third quarter. He leads the team with 28 catches.
Dwight Counter caught two passes for 73 yards. He is 7th all-time at UNM with 110 catches and 7th with 1,788 yards. In three career games against Utah, Counter hauled in 9 passes for 280 yards, an average of 31.1 yards per catch. Counter's 11 TDs rank tied for 8th all-time at New Mexico. He is averaging an amazing 39.6 yards (11-436) per TD reception during his Lobo career. Counter recorded the fourth 100-yard game of his career against Utah State with four catches for 106 yards, including a 39-yard TD pass.
Sophomore P Tyler Gaus (San Diego, Calif.) enjoyed his best game of the season, kicking four times for a 45-yard average. He had two punts land inside the Utah 5-yard line.
WORDS FROM ROCKY -
(on Utah) -- "It was a high scoring game because of the kickoff returns. Turnovers and special teams make high scoring games. We ran the ball pretty well. When you run the ball, obviously, you have have to be good up front, and I think our offensive line probably played better than our backs did. I respect Utah's defense. Utah is a good team. We were just a little better. No win is bigger than any other. Last week against San Diego State was just as big."
(on UNLV) -- "I guess UNLV is a bit of an unknown. We know they have enough talent to go into Madison and beat a nationally-ranked team like Wisconsin. I think they have made some mistakes the past few games which have hurt their chances at victory. Our biggest concern is not relishing the Utah win for very long. Yes, it was a good win, but we had better get rid of that feeling by Tuesday's practice and get ready for UNLV or we'll be in trouble. Any team in the league can still beat any other one. All you have to do is look at how home teams have fared in conference games to realize that."