STEVENS: A Couple of 'Almosts' Doom Lobos in San Diego
Courtesy: New Mexico Athletics  
Release:  10/31/2009
Courtesy: New Mexico Athletics

Oct. 31, 2009

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Saturday: SDSU 23, Lobos 20
Up Next: Lobos at Utah, 4 p.m., Saturday

By Richard Stevens -- Senior Writer/GoLobos.com

Almost. It's a word that has cursed the Lobos all season and once again the hateful two-syllable word reared up to tease and hurt the Lobos in a gallant road effort at San Diego State.

It was an "almost" that favored the Aztecs 23-20 on the scoreboard.

It was an "almost" that also applied to a catch by Lobo Bryant Williams that replay officials decided was not a catch. The ruling ended UNM`s final drive and ended a last-gasp effort by the Lobos to tie the game with a James Aho field goal or maybe steal the win with a bigger score.

It probably was a loss that hurt a bit more than some of the others this season for the 0-8 Lobos. The Lobos really were the better team on the field for most of the game, dominated the Aztecs statistically, but failed to convert enough of that good work onto the scoreboard.

The Lobos totaled 386 yards to 303 for the Aztecs. The Lobos had more yards rushing, more yards passing and dominated time of possession 33:38 to 26:22. UNM also converted 9-of-20 third downs to 6-of-14 for SDSU. The Lobos had 25 first downs to 18 for the home guys.

A key blow for the Lobos down the stretch was a personal foul by lineman Ivan Hernandez which forced UNM to go deeper on pass routes. It looked like Lobo QB Donovan Porterie had pulled UNM out of that hole with an apparent first-down toss to Williams. The Aztecs challenged the call and the replay ruled no catch. UNM turned the ball over on downs and the Aztecs ran out the clock.

The win halted an eight-game skid for the Aztecs against UNM. The Lobos are at Utah this coming Saturday.

"I'm proud of them," said Lobo coach Mike Locksley. "I'm proud of the team, but I'm especially proud of the seniors.

"Those guys have had every opportunity to give up. It's been remarkable the way they have been able to hang in there. The young guys will be able to look back at this senior class and see true leadership."

Porterie showed good senior leadership in marching the Lobos against the Aztecs. He went 27-of-52 for 277 yards with one TD and no interceptions. Daryl Jones had eight grabs for 88 yards and Victor James had five for 55 yards. Kasey Carrier paced UNM's ground game with 63 yards on 13 carries.

"We're getting a little bit better with each game," said Locksley.

The Lobos came out with a game plan of balance and did a good job most of the game in frustrating the Aztecs' blitz package.

"We put together a game plan to run right at the blitz and try to create some seams, mix in enough option where they had to play sound (defensive) football," said Locksley. "We did a really good job mixing up the tempos."

The Aztecs, down 20-16 in the fourth quarter, suddenly looked like the team that threw for 400-plus yards a week earlier in a win at Colorado State. The backbreaking and Lobo-breaking drive began with 12:13 to play on the SDSU 25-yard line. The Aztecs put together their best drive when it counted most.

QB Ryan Lindley, who went 22-of-38 for 253 yards and three touchdowns, ended the drive with a floating pass deep in the left side of the UNM defense. Aztec DeMarco Sampson leaped high to pull the pass down over the UNM defense. The 10-play drive handed SDSU a 23-20 lead with 7:54 to play.

The Lobos had three more offensive shots at the Aztec end zone, the final one beginning with 2:04 to play.

The Lobos held leads of 10-0 and 20-16 before the Aztecs rallied for the win. The first quarter was all Lobos. Freshman Kasey Carrier got the Lobos good field position with a 34-yard kickoff return to open the game and set UNM up at its 46-yard line.

Porterie did a good job pushing his Lobos down the field, but the drive stalled and ended with a 34-yard James Aho field goal. UNM was up 3-0. The Lobos' second drive wasn't bad either. UNM marched from its 19 to the SDSU 20, before the Lobos were stopped. Aho trotted out for another field goal attempt. He missed from 37 yards.

The Lobos' defense continued to frustrate Lindley and a sack by Johnathan Rainey led to a Lindley fumble that was recovered by Kendall Briscoe. The Lobos again marched. This time all the way.

The drive started on the SDSU 31-yard line and ended with Porterie diving over the top of the pile from one yard out. The Lobos led 10-0.

The Lobos then showed some guts and boldness on the kickoff. It ended up hurting them. The call was for an onside kick and it appeared the surprise play was going to work. A Lobo missed the ball and the Aztecs took over at the UNM 42. SDSU scored in three plays with Lindley going 18 yards to Alston Amuolo for the score. The scoreboard moved to 10-7 in favor of the Lobos.

The Aztecs set up their next score with a punt that was downed on UNM's two-yard line. UNM actually got a first down to move to the 12. A fumble credited to Porterie helped end the drive, forcing Adam Miller to punt out of the end zone. He mishandled the snap and was tackled for a safety making it 10-9 in UNM's favor.

The Aztecs formed their 16-10 halftime lead by putting together an 80-yard drive that began with 1:41 left to play in that half. The drive ended with a Lindley floater to Sampson on the left side. The athletic Aztec leaped high and got a foot down as he fell out of bounds. The Aztec scored with 18 seconds to go.

The Lobos continued to move the ball well on the Aztecs, but also continued to stall as they neared the SDSU goal. UNM's first drive of the second half went from the Lobos 10-yard line to the SDSU 28-yard line.

Aho concluded that drive with a 45-yard field goal. UNM moved closer, 16-13. The Lobos were dominated the game stats, but had not yet regained control of the scoreboard.

The Lobo defense held the Aztecs again. UNM took over and continued to move on the Rocky Long defense. UNM grabbed the lead when Porterie rifled a bullet to Daryl Jones in the right side of the end zone.

Jones reached out to his left as he was falling and pulled the ball in for the score. Aho converted and UNM was up 20-16. The Lobos carried that lead into the fourth quarter, before the Aztecs put together their best drive of the game to grab the win. The loss dropped UNM to 0-4 in the Mountain West Conference.