Lobos Travel to Air Force for MWC Road Opener
Courtesy: New Mexico Athletics  
Release:  10/04/2004
Courtesy: New Mexico Athletics

Oct. 4, 2004

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The University of New Mexico looks to get back on the winning track Saturday, playing its first conference road game at Air Force. The Lobos and Falcons begin at 4:37 p.m., Mountain Time. The game will be televised live by SportsWest with local availability provided by KRQE-TV in Albuquerque. It's also part of the ESPN GamePlan package. UNM continues on the road next week at UNLV before facing San Diego State on Oct. 23 for homecoming.

The Lobos are 2-3 overall after losing their MWC opener at home to No. 14 Utah 28-7 last Friday. For the second time in the past three games, UNM failed to score an offensive touchdown. The Utes - who have won nine straight - held the Lobos to 157 yards.

UNM has started 2-3 in each of head coach Rocky Long's seven seasons. New Mexico has never lost its first two MWC games since the league formed in 1999. The Lobos began 0-4 in 1998, their final season in the Western Athletic Conference.

New Mexico was a perfect 3-0 in MWC road games last year, winning by an aggregate margin of 58 points: 30-7 at San Diego State, 47-35 at Utah and 26-3 at Wyoming. The Lobos have also won 5 of their past 6 league contests away from Albuquerque and 7 of 9. It's been 22 years since UNM won at least four consecutive conference away games. The Lobos won at Colorado State in late 1981, then took four straight in 1982: at Wyoming, Air Force, San Diego State and UTEP for a five-game skein. UNM is 9-4 in its past 13 league tilts overall.

Air Force is 2-3 in all games and 1-1 in the league after losing at home to Navy 24-21 last Thursday. The Midshipmen won it with a field goal with four seconds remaining. The Falcons have lost two in a row.

The Falcons rank 1st in the league and 9th nationally in rushing offense at 259.4 yards a game. The Lobo defense is allowing only 108.6 rushing yards a game, best in the MWC and 31st among all NCAA schools.

Through five games, the Lobos' offense has struggled and so has the Air Force defense. UNM is last in the league in passing offense (122.4 ypg), total offense (282 ypg) and scoring offense (19.2 ppg.) The Falcons are last in the MWC in pass efficiency defense (142.92 rating) and scoring defense (31.8 ppg) and next-to-last in rushing defense (204.2 ypg) and total defense (414 ypg).

New Mexico went 3-0 in October last year, the first time they were undefeated in the 10th month since going 5-0 in 1959. UNM is 11-5 in October since the 1999 season. The Utah loss ended a 4-game winning streak.

Saturday will be Rocky Long's 79th game as head coach of the Lobos, tying him with Roy Johnson for second place all-time. Long is 35-43 in his seventh season at UNM. Johnson, the winningest coach in school history at 41-32-6, mentored 79 games between 1920-30. The all-time leader in games is Bill Weeks with 82. Weeks was 40-41-1 from 1960-67.

After playing its first two games at home, UNM plays six of its final nine games away from Albuquerque.

COACH LONG SAYS - (On Utah) -- "We got whipped on both sides of the ball. It was a combination of our offense not executing and their defense being pretty good. We gave up too many big plays on defense and we didn't make any plays on offense. Certainly, Utah had a lot to do with that. They are a very good football team."

(On Air Force) -- "This will be a big test for our team to come back from last week's disappointing loss to Utah. That's why you shouldn't get too high after a win or too down after a defeat. Air Force is just as difficult to defend as Utah because of the uniqueness of the offense. The success they are having passing the ball makes them even more difficult to prepare for. Offensively for us, we always investigate to see what we can do different or better. We just need to execute better. If we change our plan dramatically, our execution could suffer even more, so I don't expect us to make drastic changes."

LONG APPROACHING RECORD FOR GAMES COACHED - Head coach Rocky Long is in his seventh season at his alma mater and is now third on the school's all-time win list at 35-43. In terms of total seasons, only Roy Johnson (11) and Bill Weeks (8) have been at UNM for more time than Long. However, with 78 games spent on the sidelines, Long will become the school's career leader in games coached when the Lobos visit BYU on Nov. 13. That will be Long's 83rd game at UNM, surpassing Weeks' total of 82 from 1960-67.

UNM VS. AIR FORCE - This is the 22nd meeting in a series that started in 1957...Air Force leads 12-9 overall, but UNM has a 4-1 edge in MWC games...the Falcons have a 6-2 lead at the Academy, including a 38-31 overtime victory in 2002...New Mexico's only wins at the Academy have come in 1982 and 2000...it's tied 6-6 in Albuquerque, although the Lobos have won three in a row at University Stadium for the first time

The Lobos have done a solid job of holding down the option-oriented Falcons the past few meetings...Air Force has averaged just 169 rushing yards a game the past 4 games and 191.8 the previous 5.

MORE FROM LAST YEAR'S GAME - DonTrell Moore ran for 188 yards - the most ever against an Air Force team - to break the school's single-season rushing record and the UNM defense held the Falcons to season-lows for points, yards rushing (158) and total offense (273) in the 24-12 victory. It's the fewest points Air Force has scored in the series since a 27-10 loss in 1981.

New Mexico scored TDs - both 1-yard runs by Moore - on its first two possesions and held a 14-0 lead four seconds into the second quarter. The Falcons trimmed the halftime deficit to 14-6 on a pair of Joey Ashcroft FGs. Wes Zunker connected on his 14th straight FG and QB Casey Kelly tossed a 10-yard TD pass to senior WR Adrian Boyd as the Lobos extended their margin to 24-6 with 9:06 left in the game. The Falcons had just 163 yards offense after three quarters.

Air Force's lone TD came with 1:14 remaining on a 1-yard run by Darnell Stephens.

New Mexico's four scoring drives measured 12 plays, 59 yards and 5:33, 10-76-4:20, 11-75-6:01 and 11-67-5:43. All told, that's 44 plays and a combined time of 21 minutes, 37 seconds for the 24 points. The Lobos held onto the ball for 35:13.

UNM was 4-4 in the red zone with three TDs and one field goal. Air Force only scored one TD on four trips inside the 20.

TWO YEARS AGO AT THE ACADEMY - In the first overtime game involving two Mountain West Conference teams, Air Force took a 38-31 victory at the Academy on Sept. 7, 2002. The Falcons snapped a three-game losing streak to the Lobos in the process.

AFA fullback Steve Massie scored on a 4-yard touchdown run on the Falcons' first overtime possession. New Mexico advanced to the Air Force 11 on its ensuing OT possession, but three straight incomplete passes by quarterback Casey Kelly ended the Lobos' scoring chance.

Air Force jumped out to a 24-10 lead midway through the second quarter before UNM surged back with a furious rally over the final minutes of the half. The UNM defense and special teams sparked the comeback. After the defense forced the Falcons to go three-and-out, senior Brandon Gregory blocked a punt at the Falcon 6-yard-line. Three plays later, Kelly lunged into the endzone to cut the deficit to 24-17. New Mexico regained possession with less than 30 seconds remaining in the half, which proved to be just enough time for a big play by senior TB Quincy Wright. On first-and-10 from the Air Force 48, Kelly hit Wright with a short screen pass on the right sideline. Following solid blocking by the Lobo offensive linemen, Wright burst through several arm tackles, then cut back across the grain and sprinted for the touchdown to knot the game at 24 going into the half.

Air Force controlled the tempo early in the second half, running 22 of the first 25 plays of the third quarter. QB Chance Harridge capped a 14-play, 80-yard drive on the Falcons' second possession with a 1-yard sneak to put the Air Force ahead 31-24.

The New Mexico offense responded as Kelly completed 5 of 6 passes on the Lobos' next possession to lead the team to the tying score. UNM converted all three third-down plays on the drive, including an impressive 20-yard strike from Kelly to WR Terrance Thomas on a 3rd-and-12 play from the Lobo 39. Three plays later, Wright pulled in a screen pass and scampered 20 yards down to the Air Force 13. UNM came right back with another screen to WR Joe Manning, who followed a convoy of blockers for the score to tie the game at 31 apiece with 11:03 remaining in regulation.

Both offenses sputtered down the stretch. New Mexico advanced to its own 38-yard line with a minute left in regulation before being forced to punt, while Air Force's final drive of the second half ended when Harridge was intercepted by UNM linebacker Nick Speegle just inside Lobo territory.

AIR FORCE NOTES - Air Force returned just 29 lettermen in 2004, including a league-low 6 starters, 3 on offense and 3 on defense. The Falcons went 7-5 a year ago, including 3-4 in the MWC, tying BYU, San Diego State and UNLV for 4th place. Air Force went 1-4 in its last five games last season.

Head coach Fisher DeBerry is 158-91-1 in his 21st year at the Academy. He is 8-5 against New Mexico in his career, 4-1 at home.

True freshman QB Shaun Carney has been extremely impressive, leading the team in rushing and passing. He has run for 345 yards (69 a game) and 4 TDs, while completing an amazing 73% of his passes (57-78-4 int.) for 746 yards and 8 TDs. Carney's pass efficiency rating is 177.01. Passes have been completed to 12 different receivers. Last year, Falcon QBs completed 50% of their attempts and tossed 8 TDs for the entire 12-game season, 6 by Chance Harridge.

The Falcon defense is allowing 31.8 points and 414 yards a game, 204.2 rushing and 209.8 through the air.

Air Force has outscored opponents 38-14 in the 1st quarter, but has been outscored 145-101 the rest of the way.

UTAH REVIEW - Utah snapped a two-game losing streak to the Lobos with its victory and won in Albuquerque for the first time since 1998 (41-7)

Attendance was a season-high 40,182, the 3rd-largest crowd in University Stadium history...through three home games this fall, UNM is averaging 37,929 (113,788 total)...the school record for average attendance is 35,127 set last year

Utah's 278 yards rushing are the most the Lobos have allowed since Air Force recorded 283 yards in the final game of the 1999 season, a span of 56 games...entering the game, opponents had gained 200 yards on the ground against UNM just 3 times in the past 51 games...Oregon State's 124 yards were the previous best this season...the Utes had 202 yards at halftime, but gained just 76 yards in the second half...UNM entered the game ranked 7th in the nation in rush defense, holding opponents to just 66.2 yards/game

UNM failed to score on offense for the second time in three games...both times a fumble return provided the Lobos' lone touchdown...Gabriel Fulbright's 68-yard return was UNM's second fumble return in the past 3 games...Josh Bazinet scored on a 70-yard return at Oregon State (17-7 loss)

Inflicting Payne: Senior CB Brandon Payne continued his stellar play, posting a career-high 4 pass deflections, plus his league-best 4th interception in the end zone to halt a Utah scoring threat...Payne leads the MWC - and maybe the nation - with 16 passes defensed (12 pass deflections and 4 interceptions), an average of 3.2 a game...he's only 2 deflections shy of Eric Jack's school record of 14 set in 1993...Payne leads the MWC and is 3rd in the nation with the 4 interceptions, or 0.8 a game...Marshall's Chris Royal (4 in 4 games) and Auburn's Junior Rosegreen (5 in 5 games) are tied for 1st at 1.0 picks a game...Payne also had a career-high seven tackles against the Utes

Senior LB Nick Speegle recorded his 2nd straight double-figure tackle game with 10 stops...he also had 2 tackles for loss and caused a fumble...Speegle moved into 18th place all-time at UNM with 267 tackles...he and teammate Marcus Parker lead the MWC with 8 tackles for loss, an average of 1.6 a game

New Mexico had 15 offensive possessions, 14 ending in punts and one in an interception...11 of the drives were 4 plays or less

Albuquerque Manzano product Rodney Ferguson became the third true freshman to play for the Lobos this year...Ferguson, who rushed 3 times for 15 yards and appeared on the kickoff cover team against Utah, is the first true freshman to appear at running back for UNM since Holmon Wiggins in 1998...fellow 2004 signees Tyson Ditmore and Travis Brown played at New Mexico State

After allowing 21 points, 202 yards rushing and 323 total yards to Utah in the first half, the Utes were held to one TD, 76 yards on the ground and 143 total yards after halftime...it's the first TD yielded by the Lobo defense in the second half since the first game of the season...UNM only allowed a FG to Texas Tech, Oregon State and New Mexico State...opponents have scored 37 points after halftime this season, but 21 of those came from Washington State in the season opener...the Cougars only had to travel 18 and 4 yards for 14 of their points, though

The Lobos are 27-9 under Rocky Long when committing fewer turnovers in a game...they had won 10 straight before the loss to Utah...the Utes had three turnovers to UNM's two

P.O.W. TRIFECTA - For the first time in school history, New Mexico swept the Mountain West Conference player of the week awards following the win over Texas Tech. Sophomore QB Kole McKamey and senior S Josh Bazinet each earned the first honor of their careers while senior K Wes Zunker picked up his second special teams award. The only other MWC team to sweep the awards was San Diego State on Oct. 13, 2000.

TEAM NOTES TO DATE - UNM has won eight straight games when it scores first...since the start of the 2001 season, the Lobos are 15-1 when getting on the scoreboard first...the only loss came at Utah State in 2002

The 21-17 loss to Washington State ended a 16-game UNM winning streak when it led after three quarters...the Lobos led the Cougars 14-7 going into the fourth quarter...the last loss had been to BYU in 2001, a game the Lobos led 13-10, but lost 24-20 to the 17th-ranked Cougars...must be something about playing the Cougars

It had been 12 years since New Mexico lost a game when leading by at least 10 points in the fourth quarter as it did against Washington State (17-7)...on Sept. 26, 1992, UNM had a 25-6 lead at Air Force only to fall 33-32 as the Falcons outscored the Lobos 27-7 in the final period

UNM and Washington State played to a scoreless first half, the first time the Lobos had been involved in that situation since Oct. 25, 1997 at Utah...the Utes eventually won that game 15-10

Wes Zunker's 43-yard FG as time expired gave the Lobos a gritty 27-24 victory over Texas Tech on Sept. 11, ending UNM's 10-game, 20-year losing skid against the Red Raiders...New Mexico had not beaten TTU since a 29-24 decision in Albuquerque on Sept. 22, 1984

The losses to Washington State and Oregon State pushed the Lobos' losing streak against Pac-10 teams to nine game

The Lobos' 38-3 win at New Mexico State was the largest victory margin in Las Cruces in 43 games, dating to 1905...it's the biggest road win since a 56-7 triumph at UTEP in 1972

OFFENSE NOTES - The offense has scored in just one game out of the past three, that being the 38 points at New Mexico State for an average of 12.8 ppg over the past 3 contests

Offensive averages the past 3 games: 124 rushes for 470 yards or 156.7 ypg...total offense of 226.7 ypg

Passing statistics the past 3 games: 21 of 68 (31%) for 210 yards, 0 TDs and 4 interceptions...UNM has thrown 1 TD pass this season, a 7-yarder from Kole McKamey to Hank Baskett against Texas Tech

DonTrell Moore rushed 24 times for 167 yards and 1 TD against Washington State...it was the most yards against WSU since Ohio State's Maurice Clarett gained 230 yards in 2002

WR Hank Baskett established career-highs for receptions (9) and yards (165) against Washington State

The dramatic game-ending drive against Texas Tech was beautifully engineered by sophomore QB Kole McKamey...with the score tied at 24, the Lobos took over on their own 20 with 1:47 remaining...McKamey opened the march with a 10-yard option keeper and capped it by completing a 14-yard pass to freshman WR Marcus Smith that advanced the ball to the Texas Tech 25... two plays and two Texas Tech timeouts later, Wes Zunker nailed the game-winning 43-yard FG...DonTrell Moore - with an assist from the offensive line - came up big on the drive as well, rushing for 30 yards on 4 carries...the Lobos gained just 142 yards on the ground, but 40 yards came in the final 107 seconds

It had been 10 years since UNM won a game with a drive late in the fourth quarter...the Lobos trailed undefeated Utah 21-20 in 1994, but Stoney Case marched UNM 63 yards to set up the game-winning FG by Nathan Vail and a 23-21 victory

DonTrell Moore became the MWC's career rushing leader with 76 yards against Texas Tech...San Diego State's Larry Ned had 2,800 yards froom 1999-2001

Under Rocky Long, the Lobos are 19-5 when rushing for 200 yards or more and 17-3 when exceeding 225 yards...the losses came against Colorado State (254 yards) in 1999, Utah State (263 yards) in 2002 and Texas Tech (235) in 2003

DEFENSE NOTES - The Lobos are 1st in the MWC in rushing defense, allowing just 108.8 yards a game..UNM has led the league in that category 3 times in the past 4 years (2000, `01 and `03), finishing 5th nationally in 2001 and 2003

Since the start of the 2001 season - a span of 42 games - opponents have been held to less than 100 yards rushing 21 times...only 4 times in the past 52 games has an opponent reached 200 yards on the ground: Utah (278) this year, Air Force (261) and New Mexico State (262) in 2002 and Utah (255) in 2001

The past 24 games, opponents have had 82 opportunities inside the UNM red zone...they have scored only 40 TDs, or 48.7% of the time...the Lobos have forced 11 turnovers (9 interceptions and 2 fumbles)

New Mexico's lone TD at Oregon State came on a 70-yard fumble return by senior S Josh Bazinet...Bazinet and LB Nick Speegle teamed to sack Oregon State QB Derek Anderson, forcing a fumble...Bazinet scooped up the loose ball for the Lobos' first fumble return for a score since Hebrews Josue and Billy Strother combined on an 83-yard TD against Weber State in 2002... Josue went the first 41 yards before lateraling to Strother who took it the remaining 42 yards

New Mexico State was held to 124 yards of offense, the 3rd-lowest total by a Rocky Long Lobo team...the Aggies only had 2 first downs and 13 offensive plays for 36 yards in the first half...they did not cross the 50-yard line until the last play of the third quarter...eight of NMSU's 11 drives were four plays or less

SPECIAL TEAM NOTES - Wes Zunker's 43-yard FG as time expired against Texas Tech is the second game-winner of his career...he nailed a 33-yarder last year to defeat Colorado State 37-34

The Lobos are averaging just 14.3 yards on 12 kickoff returns and 3.9 yards on 12 punt returns

Junior P Tyler Gaus kicked 3 times for a 46-yard average at New Mexico State...his first punt of the night was a career-long 62-yarder into the wind that landed on the NMSU 10-yard line...the Aggies punted 4 plays later and UNM scored on its ensuing possession...his other two punts were downed at the 3 and the 10...12 of his 35 kicks this year have landed inside the 20