Sept. 29, 2012
Up Next: Texas State at New Mexico
By Richard Stevens - Senior Writer/GoLobos.com
The lessons and the measurements were maybe of equal importance.
If the New Mexico Lobos can play with No. 24 Boise State, the Lobos can play with anybody in the Mountain West. That's the measurement that came to all Lobos Saturday night in UNM's 32-29 narrow loss to Boise State.
"I think we showed people that we're not going to give up," said Lobo linebacker Joe Stoner. "This isn't the team from the past. This is a whole different era."
The lesson relates to the Lobos option based "pistol offense that both rocked the Boise State defense back on its heels with a 29-point outburst in the second half - and, as Stoner put it, "shot ourselves in the foot" in the first half.
This is an offense that needs to be clean and consistent.
New Mexico almost staged the greatest comeback in program history storming back from a 25-point halftime hole to throw a scare into the team that has led the nation in scoring for the past 11 seasons.
The Lobos turned two second-half Boise State fumbles into touchdowns and a goal-line stand by the inspired UNM defense turned into a 96-yard scoring drive by the Cole Gautsche-led offense.
"It's frustrating because again, for us to win -- particularly against a team like this, but really any team to be honest -- we have to play flawless," said Davie. "And we're not really capable of that just yet. We're getting better.
"It was two different games, two halves of football and two different games. The biggest reason was because of turnovers. In the first half we turned the ball over three times. We had three different players turn it over."
The Broncos used that trio of fumbles to produce 18 points on the scoreboard and went into the half up 25-0. The Broncos scored only once in the second half. Boise State took a couple of knees in the closing seconds, but that field position was set up by UNM missing on a fourth-and-four at the Lobo 33-yard line with 2:04 to play.
The Lobos had a shot at victory or a tie, down by three, and owning the ball at their 27-yard line with 3:24 to play. The option that carried UNM in the second half did not shine in those final ticks as Boise finally shut down UNM's run, forcing the Lobos to go to the air.
"The offense, really all night, we felt good about everything," said Davie. "Cole (Gautsche) played the majority of the game because it was a triple-option game. They had a hard time adjusting. The had a hard time stopping it.
"So it was a tale of two halves. It comes back to turnovers for us. It's all about turnover with our football team."
The triple option is an offense that burns the clock and tries to establish field position. The Lobos were hurt in the first half by three turnovers and also stalled a drive when a running back fell in the backfield on a sweep.
The Lobos - still a fragile team in some ways - can be hurt by inconsistencies and turnovers.
In the first-down category, the Lobos were behind the Broncos by only three: 25 to 22. UNM had 330 yards rushing with Kasey Carrier leading the way for the second consecutive game with his 86 yards.
Gautsche had 71 yards with two touchdowns and an important two-point conversion that left UNM three points down on the scoreboard: 32-29.
Boise State had 514 total yards to UNM's 374. The Broncos had 203 yards on the ground and 311 passing off the arm of Joe Southwick, who also threw for three scores.
"Defensively, we've got to keep plugging away," said Davie. "If we don't force some turnovers, we have a hard, hard time."
The Lobos got those turnovers in the second half. Boise State fumbled the opening kickoff of that half. It was forced by Jeric Magnant and recovered by Dallas Bollema. UNM scored from 26 yards out on six plays with Pressley scoring from three yards out.
"That's all we needed was a turnover," said Stoner. "That gave our offense a spark."
Boise State tried to answer and drove 75 yards to the UNM 4-yard line, but a Southwick pass into the end zone was high. UNM then marched 96 yards in seven plays to bring the count to 25-14.
Boise State went up 32-14 which was a comfortable lead with 13:49 to play in the fourth quarter. UNM drove 75 yards to make it 32-21 with 8:32 to play. The Lobos needed a big play and got it when A.J. Butler forced a fumble and Joe Stoner picked up the loose ball and rambled 47 yards to the Boise State 1-yard line.
UNM got the TD and the two-point conversion from Gautsche to make the score 32-29.
"I really appreciate our team in the second half .I really appreciate the fight," said Davie. "The second half shows you what this can be. The atmosphere in the stadium, to be quite honest, was electric. You could feel it. And when that atmosphere is electric and we play decent to good football, you can see the results of that. "It looked like a different team."
Said Stoner: "I feel like we can win the rest of the eight (games). If we come oute and execute and play our game, it's going to be a game every time out."
Editor's Note: An earlier Associated Press version of this game called the Lobos the "Aggies" in the first sentence and cbs.com, UNM's web-hosting company, mistakenly put "Aggies" in the headline. While the mistake was not made by University of New Mexico athletics, we regret the error and apologize for any convenience to our loyal fans.