Lobos Look to Change Luck in Las Vegas
Courtesy: New Mexico Athletics  
Release:  10/11/2004
Courtesy: New Mexico Athletics

Oct. 11, 2004

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The University of New Mexico hopes to end a two-game losing skid Saturday afternoon as they face UNLV in Las Vegas. The Lobos and Rebels get underway at 1:05 p.m., Mountain Time. which is 12:05 Pacific, at Sam Boyd Stadium. The game will be televised live by ESPN+Plus with local availability provided by KRQE-TV in Albuquerque. It's also part of the ESPN GamePlan package. UNM returns home next Saturday for a homecoming encounter against San Diego State.

The Lobos are now 2-4 overall after losing their first two MWC games to Utah and last Saturday at Air Force 28-23. UNM has not led in either game, trailing by 21 points in both contests. New Mexico is 2-4 for the third time in the past four seasons, also being in that position in 2001 and `02. Both of those years, UNM rallied down the stretch to become bowl eligible, including a trip to the 2002 Las Vegas Bowl against UCLA. However, the Lobos are 0-2 in Mountain West play for the first time since the conference started in 1999. They started 0-4 in 1998, the last year of competition in the Western Athletic Conference. That was also the last time UNM started a season 2-5.

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 7 league contests away from Albuquerque and 7 of 10.

UNLV is 2-4 in all games and 1-1 in the league after bouncing BYU 24-20 in Provo last Friday. The Rebels have won two in a row after starting the season 0-4. They've won those two games since head coach John Robinson announced on Sept. 26, that he would retire at the end of the season. Two of the losses came at nationally-ranked venues, Wisconsin and Tennessee.

Statistically, New Mexico and UNLV are very similar through six games as their records indicate. They have the top-two rushers in the league in Dominique Dorsey (109.3 ypg) and DonTrell Moore (93.2 ypg). UNLV is averaging 20.5 points a game, UNM 19.8. The Rebels are averaging 161.3 rushing yards a game, the Lobos 156.3. UNLV is next-to-last in the MWC in total offense (324.3 ypg) while UNM is last at 278.2 ypg. They are 4th and 5th in the league in pass defense and turnover margin, and 7th and 8th in pass efficiency offense and time of possession.

Saturday will be Rocky Long's 80th game as head coach of the Lobos, moving him past Roy Johnson for second place all-time at UNM. Long is 35-44 in his seventh season at his alma mater. 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.

COACH LONG SAYS - (on Air Force) -- "Despite being down by 21 points at halftime, we certainly had our chances to come out on top. The goal-line stand by Air Force in the first half was big and so was the roughing the kicker call in the fourth quarter. The (lack of) offense is a concern right now. We're not moving the ball consistently and we're not scoring enough to win games."

(on UNLV) -- "They're on a high right now after winning their last two games. I think we'll see their best team on Saturday. We better have our A-game too. We're not playing well right now. It's not from a lack of effort or want-to. We're just not executing like we need to. We've taken a few steps backwards the past two games, but if we keep working, hopefully, we'll hit our stride and win some games."

UNM VS. UNLV - This is the 12th meeting in a series that started in 1978. The Rebels have a 6-5 lead, including last year's 37-35 victory at University Stadium. UNM has a 3-2 lead in MWC games, UNLV a 3-1 advantage in Las Vegas.

The Lobos are 1-6 all-time at Sam Boyd Stadium with neutral-game losses to Colorado State in the 1997 WAC Championship and to UCLA and Oregon State in the past two Las Vegas Bowls.

UNLV shocked the Lobos in Albuquerque last year 37-35, ending UNM's 4-game win streak. The Rebels came into the game 0-3 in the MWC, but took advantage of six Lobo turnovers, returning an interception and a fumble for TDs. UNM had 578 yards of offense, UNLV just 229.

Two years ago, the Lobos got their first-ever win in Las Vegas (25-16) led by reserve QB Justin Millea. Playing for the injured Casey Kelly (broken arm), 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 for a 21-10 lead. The Lobos also recorded their first defensive PAT on an interception by Brandon Ratcliff that provided a 23-16 advantage in the fourth quarter. UNM was just 2-8 passing for 20 yards.

The Rebels handed New Mexico its worst home loss ever, 72-7 on Nov. 1, 1980.

LAST YEAR VS. UNLV - The Lobos could not overcome six turnovers (three fumbles, three interceptions) in the 37-35 loss despite outgaining the Rebels by an overwhelming margin of 578 to 229. The befuddling facts and figures:

> UNM had six turnovers in a game for the first time since losing six against Utah in 1998...the Lobos had lost only six fumbles the first eight games of the season coming into the game

> UNLV scored 17 points off three Lobo turnovers...coming into the game, opponents had scored just 17 points the entire season following UNM's 15 giveaways...a DonTrell Moore fumble was returned 61 yards for a TD by Joe Miklos...after UNM crawled back to trail 30-28 in the fourth quarter, Jamaal Brimmer scored on a 62-yard interception return that turned out to be the difference in the game

> New Mexico lost a fumble on its first offensive play of each half...the first-quarter bobble by WR Adrian Boyd led to a Rebel FG

> UNM allowed a 49-yard kickoff return to Dominique Dorsey that led to a 9-yard TD pass...the Lobos yielded a 75-yard punt return right before halftime, which led to a FG and a 27-14 UNLV lead at the break

> A roughing-the-punter penalty kept alive a UNLV drive that ended with a 50-yard FG in the third quarter and gave the Rebels a 30-21 advantage

> Only one of UNLV's five scoring drives was longer than 44 yards

> The Rebels lost starting QB Kurt Nantkes midway through the second quarter...UNLV had 30 yards of offense and three first downs in the 2nd half and just 87 yards in the final three quarters...UNM had 316 yards in the 2nd half, 408 yards after the first period

> The Lobos were guilty of nine penalties for 96 yards, the second-highest total of the season...five of the infractions were dead-ball personal fouls

> The 429 team passing yards rank 5th-best all-time at UNM and are the most since Jeremy Leach tossed for a school-record 622 yards at Utah in 1989...Casey Kelly set a career-high with 408 yards passing, which ties for the 6th-highest total in UNM history and is the most since Leach threw for 427 yards against Hawaii in 1991..Kelly had 410 yards of total offense, 8th on the Lobos' list and the most since Stoney Case collected 413 yards against Colorado State in 1994

> WR Dwight Counter caught 6 passes for a career-high 171 yards, including a 71-yard TD pass...WR Adrian Boyd grabbed a career-best 9 passes for 103 yards and a 21-yard TD from TB DonTrell Moore...Counter and Boyd became the first receiving tandem to reach 100 yards in a game since 1991 when Carl Winston (156) and Manley Woods (113) did so against San Diego State

> DE Zack Rupp had an unbelievable game, logging a career-high 15 tackles, including a whopping 5.5 stops behind the line...he had 1.5 sacks and caused a fumble that UNM converted into a TD

> The Lobo defense had its 2nd-best effort of the season, holding the Rebels to just 229 yards

UNLV NOTES - The Rebels forced four fumbles and had an interception in the 24-20 win at BYU last Thursday...UNLV also kept the Cougars out of the end zone in the final 14 seconds when BYU had a first-and-goal at the 10...UNLV allowed BYU 96 snaps and 449 yards of total offense, but turnovers proved to be pivotal in the win...the Cougars attempted 68 passes, completing 34 for 358 yards...BYU also scored on a 26-yard interception return...the Rebels were held to 259 yards

Senior SS Jamaal Brimmer was named MWC Defensive Player of the Week against BYU...in the 24-20 victory, Brimmer recorded nine tackles (six solo), including one tackle for a loss of two yards...he also forced a fumble, posted a pass breakup and hauled in his first interception of the season...with BYU leading 10-3 in the third quarter, Brimmer picked off BYU quarterback John Beck and returned it 24 yards to the Cougar 13-yard line...later in the same quarter, Brimmer forced a fumble and after Rebel teammate Beau Bell picked up the ball, he lateraled the ball to Brimmer who continued down field and was credited with 10 fumble return yards

John Robinson (Oregon `58) is 132-72-4 in his 18th year as a collegiate head coach, including 28-37 in his 6th campaign at UNLV...Robinson is 2-3 against the Lobos, 1-1 in Las Vegas

AIR FORCE REVIEW - The 21-point deficit was just too much to overcome in the 28-23 loss at Air Force...buoyed by two blocked punts that were returned for TDs, the Lobos rallied, but a roughing the punter penalty ended up being very costly down the stretch...trailing 21-16 early in the 4th quarter, the Lobo defense posted what appeared to be its 6th straight 3-and-out of the second half as consecutive sacks forced an Air Force punt from its own end zone...UNM roughed the punter, though, and the Falcons had new life...back-to-back passes of 33 and 30 yards keyed a scoring drive that put Air Force up 28-16...UNM scored again on a blocked punt, but the Falcons were able to run out the clock after picking up a pair of first downs

Air Force went 3-and-out on its first 5 possessions of the 2nd half before the roughing penalty gave the Falcons their first 1st down of the half five minutes into the 4th quarter...AFA had gained just 15 yards on 15 second-half plays up to that point...the Lobos outscored the Falcons 16-0 in the 3rd quarter and allowed AFA just 22 yards on 12 plays in the period

Air Force finished with 239 yards rushing...it was just the 5th time in the past 53 games (since the middle of the 2000 season) that an opponent has reached 200 yards on the ground against New Mexico...however, it has now happened in consecutive games for the first time since the last 3 contests of the 1999 season (by Utah, Wyoming and Air Force)...Utah had 278 yards on Oct. 1

New Mexico's 14-0 first-quarter deficit was its largest in 15 games since trailing 14-0 at Texas Tech last year...UNM trailed 21-0 at halftime after failing to score on 4th and goal from the Air Force 1 and on a 4th-down pass from the Falcon 20 right before halftime...the Lobos failed to convert on three 4th-down opportunities...it was the Lobos' largest halftime deficit since falling behind Oregon State 31-7 in the 2003 Las Vegas Bowl

Redshirt freshmen Cody Kase and Martelius Epps both blocked punts that were returned for TDs (by true freshman Tyson Ditmore and junior Joe Selander, respectively)...for the Lobos, their last 4 blocks (all on the road in the past 12 games) have resulted in TDs...the Lobos had similar plays last year in wins at San Diego State and Utah...additionally, the last 3 blocks have all been recorded by freshmen (Jonathan Harrell vs. Utah last year)...UNM has blocked 15 punts since the start of the 2000 season, 7 of which have been returned for scores

New Mexico has scored 4 touchdowns this season on defense or special teams...the scores have come in the past 4 games

Junior TB DonTrell Moore returned after missing the last game vs. Utah (strained MCL - left knee) and finished with 110 yards on a season-high 29 carries...it was Moore's first 100-yard day since tallying 165 yards in the season opener vs. Washington State...Moore has 15 career 100-yard games, one short of tying Winslow Oliver's school record...in his last 2 games vs. the Falcons, Moore has carried the ball 65 times for 298 yards (4.6 avg.)

Junior WR Hank Baskett notched the second 100-yard receiving game of the season and his career, finishing with 107 yards on 5 catches...Baskett had 4 receptions for 100 yards in the first half...the Clovis, N.M., native had 9 catches for 165 in the season-opener vs. Washington State...averaging 81 yards a game, he's on pace for an 891-yard season, which would rank No. 9 at UNM for a season

Senior LB Fola Fashola was credited with a career-high 14 tackles...he's now 3rd on the team with 45 stops

Senior CB Brandon Payne notched his Division I-leading 13th pass deflection, 1 shy of the UNM single season record set by Eric Jack in 1993

Senior LB Nick Speegle recorded his 3rd straight double-figure tackle game with 11 stops...he's 9th in the league with 8.8 tackles a game (53 total) and remains 18th all-time at UNM with 278 stops...Speegle leads the MWC with 7.5 tackles for loss, or 1.25 a game

Making his first career start, UNM senior QB Tali Ena completed 9-22 passes for 119 yards and an interception...he scored his first career rushing TD on a 3-yard option keeper in the 3rd quarter...Ena had a career-long 57-yard completion to Baskett on the first play of the 2nd quarter

Senior K Wes Zunker hit a season-long 45-yard field goal and had a career-high 4 touchbacks on kickoffs...with 23 career FGs, Zunker moved into a tie with Nathan Vail for 7th place all-time at UNM

After 22 straight empty possessions covering nearly seven quarters, the New Mexico offense got in the end zone in the 3rd quarter on a 3-yard run by QB Tali Ena...after scoring in the 4th quarter at New Mexico State, the next 22 drives ended with 17 punts, two interceptions, two failed conversions on 4th down and a missed FG

New Mexico did not force a turnover against Air Force, meaning UNM is now 1-10 under Rocky Long in that situation

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

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 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

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 Lobos offense has scored just 10 points the past two games and is averaging 12.8 ppg for the season on 11 TDs, only one of which has been through the air...4 of UNM's 15 scores this season have come from the defense or special teams

New Mexico has 416 yards of total offense the past 2 games, the lowest amount in consecutive games since the 2000 season: 172 vs. Oregon State and 168 at New Mexico State

Passing statistics the past 4 games: 30 of 90 (33%) for 329 yards, 0 TDs and 5 interceptions...UNM has thrown an NCAA-low 1 TD pass this season, 7 yards from Kole McKamey to Hank Baskett against Texas Tech

The Lobos are last in the nation in passing efficiency with a rating of 72.6...the next lowest is Rice at 77.19...the Owls have attempted just 51 passes in 5 games compared to UNM's 147 tries

It's been 8 games since the Lobos scored a TD on their opening possession of the game...UNM had an 11-play, 82-yard drive last year at Wyoming, resulting in an 8-yard TD pass from Casey Kelly to DonTrell Moore...in 2004, the Lobos have failed to score an offensive TD in two games (Oregon State and Utah)...in the other 4 games, UNM has scored on its second possession twice (Texas Tech and New Mexico State) and on its seventh series twice (Washington State and Air Force)

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 43-yard FG and the 27-24 win...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 from 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 - Through games of Oct. 2, senior CB Brandon Payne was leading the nation in passes defensed (pass deflections + interceptions) with 16, an average of 3.2 a game...that figure is now 2.83 a game after 1 pass deflection at Air Force...Payne leads the MWC and is 4th nationally with 4 interceptions...he's only 1 deflections shy of Eric Jack's school record of 14 set in 1993

The Lobos have been a 2nd-half team the past 5 games, yielding averages of 4.6 points (3 FGs and 2 TDs), 53.4 yards rushing and 137.2 total yards after halftime...that compares to 15.4 points, 96.8 rushing yards and 226.2 total yards allowed in the first half

UNM has led the league in rushing defense 3 times in the past 4 years (2000, `01 and `03), finishing 5th nationally in 2001 and 2003

UNM has scored two defensive TDs this year, both on fumble returns...S Josh Bazinet sacked Oregon State QB Derek Anderson, picked up the loose ball, and rambled 70 yards to paydirt...against Utah, DE Mike Tuohy jarred the ball loose from QB Alex Smith, providing a 68-yard TD return for CB Gabriel Fulbright's...unfortunately for the Lobos, it was their only scores in each of those games, both losses

UNM has led the MWC in sacks for four straight seasons...the Lobos had 39 dumps, 10 more than UNLV and Colorado State, in 2003...in 2000, New Mexico ranked second nationally with 50 sacks, the third-highest total in school history...UNM registered 26 dumps in 2001 and 38 in `02

Since the start of the 2001 season - a span of 43 games - opponents have been held to less than 100 yards rushing 21 times...only 5 times in the past 53 games has an opponent reached 200 yards on the ground: Utah (278) and Air Force (239) this year, Air Force (261) and New Mexico State (262) in 2002 and Utah (255) in 2001

The past 25 games, opponents have had 84 opportunities inside the UNM red zone...they have scored only 42 TDs, or 50% of the time...the Lobos have forced 11 turnovers (9 interceptions and 2 fumbles)

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