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Lobo Football Continues MWC Action Saturday at Wyoming
Courtesy: New Mexico Athletics  
Release:  10/05/2009
Courtesy: New Mexico Athletics

Oct. 5, 2009

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It's back to conference play Saturday when New Mexico visits the Wyoming Cowboys. Kickoff is 12:06 p.m. Mountain Time from War Memorial Stadium in Laramie. UNM has won on its last four trips to Wyoming, the last loss coming in 1999. The Lobos have taken 8 of the past 9 contests from the Pokes overall, including a 24-0 shutout last year at University Stadium. That was New Mexico's first conference shutout since 1983. The only loss to Wyoming since 2000 is 14-10 in Albuquerque in 2006.

Saturday's game will be televised live on The mtn., channel 276 on Comcast cable in Albuquerque and channel 616 on DirecTV.

The Lobos are 0-5 for the first time 1994 after falling at Texas Tech 48-28. UNM has not started 0-6 since an 0-11 season in 1987.

Alvester Alexander scored three touchdowns to lead Wyoming to a 30-28 victory over Florida Atlantic last Saturday. Trailing 28-24, Alexander, who rushed for 50 yards, scored on a 15-yard run with 4:29 left in the game. Florida Atlantic had a final possession, but on fourth-and-3 at the Wyoming 47-yard line, Rusty Smith's pass was batted down by Mike Neuhaus to seal the win. True freshman QB Austyn Carta-Samuels was 29-for-38 for 223 yards for Wyoming.

Last year, the Lobos finished 4-8 overall and 2-6 in the MWC, tying UNLV for 6th place. Wyoming was also 4-8 overall and 1-7 in the league.

SERIES HISTORY - It's the 62nd meeting is a series that started in 1930 with a 19-6 Wyoming victory in Albuquerque. UW has a 32-29 series lead, although New Mexico has won 8 of the past 9 and 4 in a row in Laramie. The two rivals played every year between 1949-94.

• 62nd meeting and Wyoming has a 32-29 lead
• First meeting: 1930, Wyoming won 19-6 in Albuquerque
• Lately: UNM has won 8 of 9
• Last Wyoming Win: 2006 in Albuquerque, 14-10
• Laramie: Wyoming leads 15-14, but UNM has won 4 straight
• Last New Mexico Loss in Laramie: 1999, 42-28
• Albuquerque: Wyoming leads 17-15

LAST YEAR IN ALBUQUERQUE - With New Mexico senior halfback Rodney Ferguson nursing a shoulder injury, backups James Wright and Paul Baker and New Mexico's defense carried the Lobos to a 24-0 win over Wyoming, the Lobos' first conference shutout since 1983.

The tone for the win was set early as safety Frankie Solomon picked off a tipped pass from Wyoming quarterback Karsten Sween and returned it 13 yards for a touchdown with the game just 15 seconds old. New Mexico managed only 33 yards passing but the Lobos' running game more than made of for it.

The Cowboys came into the game with a nation's worst 19 turnovers and added to that total with three more, including Sween's first half fumble that led to a Lobo touchdown.

Wright, a redshirt freshman and the senior Baker combined for 210 of the Lobos' 317 rushing yards. Wright finished with 120 yards and a touchdown on 15 carries and Baker had 90 yards on 23 carries.

The Lobos also got a 1-yard TD from quarterback Brad Gruner with 5:58 left in the first half. The score was set up by Gruner's 52-yard run to the Wyoming 12 on a busted play. The drive started after Sween fumbled at the New Mexico 36 and Lobo linebacker Zach Arnett recovered.

Both teams had troubled sustaining drives in the second half of a game played in a light but steady rain. The only score was a 37-yard field goal by James Ajo. The Lobos had two touchdowns erased by holding penalties.

Wyoming, which came into the game averaging just 284 yards a game in total offense, finished with 201.

TWO YEARS AGO IN LARAMIE - On Oct. 13, 2007, lightning, heavy rain and even a few snowflakes seemed to be exactly what New Mexico needed against Wyoming. The Lobos came back in force after a 1 hour, 43 minute weather delay in the second quarter and promptly scored two touchdowns in beating the Cowboys 20-3.

Play had resumed on a soggy field for less than 2 minutes when Travis Brown grabbed a 63-yard reception from Donovan Porterie for a 10-3 Lobos lead with 43 seconds left in the half.

New Mexico coach Rocky Long said Wyoming had the momentum before the delay, but Brown's big touchdown changed everything.

Halftime was limited to 3 minutes. Then, early in the third quarter, Wyoming quarterback Karsten Sween fumbled on the Cowboys' own 2-yard line and Ian Clark recovered to score for the Lobos. John Sullivan kicked a 41-yard field goal at the end of the third for the final score.

Devin Moore, who'd been the conference rushing leader with a 114-yard average heading into the game, had just 30 yards rushing for Wyoming. Wynel Seldon had been averaging 74 yards but managed just 8 against the Lobos.

Brown finished with 94 yards on four receptions for New Mexico. Rodney Ferguson kept closer to his 112-yard rushing average than Moore or Seldon; he had 89 yards rushing on 26 carries.

The weather delay began 2 1/2 minutes before halftime. Lightning flashed right after Billy Vinnedge kicked a 26-yard field goal for Wyoming, tying the game 3-3. NCAA rules require a 20-minute wait after any lightning bolt.

Rain, occasionally mixed with snow, fell for the next two hours before finally letting up.

• The Lobos have held Wyoming to 53 points the past 6 games of the series, and just 17 points in the past 3 contests...Wyoming's last TD against UNM came in Albuquerque in 2006 at the 12:48 mark of the 4th quarter...Wyoming's offensive averages in its last 6 games against UNM: 8.8 points and 242.2 yards

• The Lobos hope to end a couple of streaks Saturday...UNM has lost 9 straight games overall, the longest since 10 consecutive in 1990-91...the Lobos have lost 5 straight conference games, the longest skid since 1991...they have dropped 5 consecutive road games for the first time since 2001 and they have lost 6 straight conference road games for the first time since 1991

• Saturday's game matches first-year head coaches in New Mexico's Mike Locksley and Wyoming's Dave Christensen...Locksley spent the past four seasons (2005-08) as the offensive coordinator at Illinois while Christensen was the assistant head coach and offensive coordinator at Missouri from 2001-08...Missouri went 2-0 against Illinois while both coaches were there..the Tigers won in St. Louis in 2007 and 2008

• Wyoming true freshman QB Austyn Carta-Samuels was named MWC Offensive Player of the Week after leading the Cowboys to the 30-28 come-from-behind road victory at Florida Atlantic...he led a 12-play, 91-yard game-winning drive in the 4th quarter...during that series, the San Jose, Calif., native rushed for 28 yards and passed for 18, accounting for half of Wyoming's 91 yards on the drive...he completed 29-of-38 passes for 223 yards, and added 69 rushing yards to finish with 292 yards of total offense while leading Wyoming on scoring drives of 80, 47, 59, 80 and 91 yards...Carta-Samuels connected with seven different receivers on the day, and guided Wyoming to 421 yards of total offense

• Wyoming's 3 wins in 2009 have come by a total of 12 points, and they have won their last 2 with drives late in the 4th quarter

• Lobo sophomore MLB Carmen Messina remains 1st in the nation in tackles at 13.8 a game...while Messina's play has been exemplary, his numbers are somewhat a product of his environment...through 5 games, the Lobo offense is 118th in the nation among 120 teams in time of possession at 25 minutes 50 seconds a game...Lobo opponents are averaging 79.6 plays a game, or 16.6 more than the UNM offense, which is averaging just 63 snaps a game...however, at Texas Tech, UNM had the ball for a season-high 36:15 and Messina logged 12 tackles, 2 tackles for loss, a 17-yard sack and he caused a fumble...Messina's first career start came last year against Wyoming...on the first snap of the game, he deflected a pass that fell into the arms of Frankie Solomon, who returned the interception 13 yards for a TD

• Sophomore DE Johnathan Rainey has kind of come out of nowhere to put up some impressive numbers the first 5 games: in his 1st career start last against New Mexico State, Rainey set career-highs for tackles (9), tackles for loss (3.5) and sacks (2.5)...it was his second multiple sack game (2.0 at Texas A&M) this season...with another sack last week at Texas Tech, Rainey still leads the Mountain West with 9.5 TFL and is 2nd in the league with 6.5 sacks...the cat-quick Rainey was unofficially credited with 5 more QB hurries/hits at Texas Tech, giving him a team-high 19 this season...Rainey had 15 tackles in 11 games last year

• Senior QB Donovan Porterie has completed 44-of-81 passes (54%) for 516 yards, 3 TDs and no interceptions in his last 7 quarters...the past 2 games, Porterie has thrown 3 TDs against just 1 interception, while averaging 6.2 yards per pass attempt, 11.3 yards per completion and 261 passing yards...that is vastly improved from the first 3 games when he had 0 TD passes, 2 interceptions and averages of 4.6 yards per attempt, 7.2 yards per completion and 108 passing yards

• Senior P Adam Miller has lifted his punting average to 43.9 yards on the season after averaging 49.9 yards on 11 boots over the past 2 games...he kicked 5 times for a 47.4-yard average against New Mexico State and followed that with a 52-yard average on 6 kicks at Texas Tech...he is now 2nd in the MWC and 19th in the nation at 43.9

• With most stats being correlated in some fashion, maybe it's no surprise that the UNM offense has struggled on 3rd down...it is 22% (16-73) for the season, and it has been even tougher in the 2nd half where it is 9% (3-33), including 0 of 16 in the 3rd period

• Wyoming is 2nd in the MWC and tied for 8th nationally with a turnover margin of +7...the Cowboys have forced 12 miscues while turning it over 5 times...Tashaun Gipson and Shamiel Gary are tied for 1st in the MWC with 3 interceptions apiece...Gary is also 2nd in the league in passes defended at 1.2 a game

• Wyoming WR David Leonard ranks 1st in the MWC with 7.6 receptions a game

• Wyoming has 3 tacklers that rank 2-3-4 in the MWC...Gabe Knapton is 2nd at 11 stops a game, Brian Hendricks 3rd at 10.6 and Chris Prosinski 4th at 9.6

YOUTH BEING SERVED LIKE NEVER BEFORE - The 2009 Lobos could very well be one of the youngest New Mexico teams ever. Consider the numbers:

• Of the 48 different players listed on this week's offensive/defensive depth chart, 26 are either freshmen or sophomores...18 of the 48 are seeing gameday action for the first time in their college career...UNM's top-3 rushers are two freshmen and a sophomore, its top 2 receivers both freshmen

• Of the 49 Lobos that participated in last Saturday's game at Texas Tech, 26 are freshmen (15) and sophomores (11)

• On defense, only three Lobos (Ian Clark, Clint McPeek, Frankie Solomon) began the season with more than 2 starts in their careers...Clark is out for the season with a shoulder injury

• Entering Saturday's game at Wyoming, only seven active Lobos have more than 8 career starts at UNM

• 20 players made their Lobo debut in the season opener at Texas A&M, and 16 of them are either true freshmen (3) or redshirt freshmen (13)...the other 4 are 2 sophomores and 2 juniors

• 48% of the receiving yards have been recorded by UNM freshmen or sophomores (458 of 950)

• 97% of the rushing yards have been recorded by UNM freshmen or sophomores (513 of 529)

• 5 of the Lobos' 7 offensive TDs have been scored by freshmen or sophomores

• 53% of the Lobos' tackles have been recorded by freshmen or sophomores (252 of 472)

• 24.5 of the Lobos' 38 tackles for loss (64%), 13 of the 14 sacks, 3 of the 4 interceptions and 6 of the 7 forced fumbles have been recorded by freshmen and sophomores

• UNM's top tackler, TFL leader and top 2 sack leaders are sophomores

TEXAS TECH RECAP - Backup quarterback Steven Sheffield threw for 238 yards and three touchdowns to help lead Texas Tech to a 48-28 win over New Mexico on Saturday. Taylor Potts, the nation's leading passer, left the game before halftime after two hard sacks appeared to affect his balance.

Sheffield threw scoring passes of 25, 20 and 62 yards. He was 16 of 23 with one interception. Alex Torres, Edward Britton and Harrison Jeffers caught the touchdowns.

Potts was intercepted twice, both by cornerback Nathan Enriquez. The Lobos got their only first-half score off Potts' second interception. Donovan Porterie threw a 7-yard TD pass to Josh Fussell in the second quarter.

TEXAS TECH POSTGAME NOTES • New Mexico far exceeded all of its 4-game offensive averages with 28 points, 91 plays, 115 yards rushing, 316 yards passing and 431 yards of total offense...the Lobos came into the game averaging 11.5 points, 56 plays, 103.5 yards rushing, 158.5 yards passing and 262 yards of offense

• The Lobos scored their most points (28) in 10 games, since a 70-7 win over San Diego State last year

• UNM had the ball for a season-high 36:15, including 19:01 in the 1st half...the Lobos came into the game last (120th) in the FBS in time of possession, averaging 23:13 a game

• After causing just 4 turnovers the first 4 games, UNM forced 5 on 3 interceptions and 2 fumbles

• UNM converted 6 of 20 3rd down opportunities, or 30%...the Lobos were 5-of-11 in the 1st half...the Lobos came into the game 118th in the nation (out of 120) in 3rd down conversions at 19% (10-53)

Redshirt freshman TB A.J. Butler
• career-highs of 26 carries for 102 yards and a 1-yard TD, and a career-best 9 catches for 39 yards, giving him 35 touches for 141 all-purpose yards...had 15 carries for 76 yards in the 1st half
• 1st freshman to exceed 20 rushing attemps since DonTrell Moore had 28 against Wyoming in 2002...came into the game with 13 carries for 42 rushing yards on the season
• most receptions by a Lobo RB since Shane Hall had 14 (for 93 yards) vs. Wyoming in 1987

Redshirt freshman CB Nathan Enriquez
• had 2 interceptions - the first of his career - in the 1st half...the first Lobo with 2 picks in a game since Glover Quin had 2 against Tulsa in 2008
• also had 4 tackles, 1.5 tackles for loss and a PBU batted away at the Texas Tech goal line

Senior S Frankie Solomon
• 5 tackles and a 29-yard interception for a TD
• he also had UNM's last INT for a score, 13 yards against Wyoming a year ago
• 4 career interceptions, 2 for TDs

Senior QB Donovan Porterie
• set career passing highs with 30 completions and 56 attempts...threw for 316 yards and 2 TDs
• it's the most pass completions and attempts by a Lobo QB since 1994 when Stoney Case was 37-of-62 vs. TCU
• posted his 5th career 300-yard passing game and the 1st since the 2007 New Mexico Bowl (354 vs. Nevada)
• the 4th Lobo QB to reach 5,000 career passing yards, joining Stoney Case, Jeremy Leach and Casey Kelly; Porterie has 5,191 yards
• moved into a tie for 6th place at UNM with David Osborn with 24 career TD passes
• moved into 3rd place all-time at UNM with 456 career pass completions

Sophomore LB Carmen Messina
• 12 tackles for his 4th straight game with double-digit tackles
• also 2 tackles for loss, including a 17-yard sack, and a caused fumble
• came into the game 1st in the nation, averaging 14.2 tackles a game

Senior P Adam Miller
• punted 6 times for a career-high 52-yard average, the second straight game he has set a career high for average; first 5 punts were more than 50 yards
• averaged 49.9 yards on 11 kicks the past 2 games with 7 longer than 50
• increased his season average to 43.9 yards

Sophomore DE Johnathan Rainey
• the MWC's leader in tackles for loss had 3 tackles, including an 11-yard sack
• unofficially credited with 5 QB hits/hurries and he drew a holding penalty
• leads the Lobos with 6.5 sacks and 19 QB hits/hurries on the season
• has a sack in every game this year except against run-oriented Air Force

Sophomore DE Jaymar Latchison
• 2 tackles, an 8-yard sack, a forced fumble and unofficially a career-high 5 QB hurries

Junior WR Bryant Williams
• 2 receptions for 75 yards, including a 61-yard TD; it's the Lobos' longest scoring pass since the 2007 New Mexico Bowl against Nevada when Donovan Porterie connected with Travis Brown on a 63-yard TD

Senior WR Victor James
• A career-high 4 catches for 49 yards

Redshirt freshman TE Lucas Reed
• A career-high 4 catches for 49 yards

Junior FB Josh Fussell
• caught his 2nd career TD pass, a 7-yarder from Donovan Porterie

Redshirt freshman DE Jake Carr
• had a 10-yard sack in his 1st career play as a Lobo