Sept. 29, 2003
The New Mexico Lobos complete the non-conference portion of their regular-season schedule Saturday as the Utah State Aggies come to town. Kickoff is 6:05 p.m. Mountain Time from University Stadium. There is no television coverage for the game. A crowd in excess of 33,000 is expected for the school's 79th Homecoming game. For a complete list of UNM Homecoming events visit www.unmalumni.com.
Several members of the Lobos' 1963 Western Athletic Conference championship football team will be in attendance this weekend. As many as 37 former players are expected to attend the UNM Alumni Lettermen's Homecoming Social on Friday evening and the game on Saturday. The '63 squad was the last New Mexico team to win an outright conference championship, going 6-4 overall and 3-1 in the WAC.
Both New Mexico and Utah State ended three-game losing streaks last Saturday with victories on their home turf. The Lobos slipped past New Mexico State 24-17 in front of a school-record throng of 44,075 fans at University Stadium. UNM has started 2-3 for the fifth consecutive year. New Mexico is 8-4 in October games since 1999.
Utah State got by Louisiana-Monroe 28-10 in a Sun Belt Conference game. The Aggies will be playing on the road for the fourth time in five games when they visit Albuquerque. They started with three straight road games, including trips to Nebraska and Arizona State, teams that were ranked when USU played them.
New Mexico has a 38-37-3 record in Homecoming affairs. UNM has won four straight, the longest string since a five-game run between 1958-62.
The Lobos are 10-3 in their last 13 contests at University Stadium. UNM has captured seven of its last eight home games against non-conference competition. New Mexico was 3-0 at home last year against MWC teams and it has won six of its past eight league games in Albuquerque.
THE UTAH STATE SERIES: New Mexico has a 10-8 lead in a series that started 52 years ago. The Lobos are 7-3 in Albuquerque where they have won the past three. The two schools played every year from 1951-64, but have met just three times since 1966. Those last three games have been decided by a total of seven points and the past two contests have gone into overtime: 39-36 UNM in three OTs in 1998 and 45-44 USU last year in Logan.
New Mexico had won the past three meetings before the Aggies won last year in Logan. After the Lobos scored 14 points in 53 seconds to take a 38-31 lead with 25 seconds left in regulation, USU scored on a 32-yard Hail Mary with three seconds remaining to send it into overtime. The Aggies scored first. UNM followed with a TD, but missed the extra point.
The Lobos racked up 483 yards of total offense in last year's game, 263 rushing and 220 through the air. DonTrell Moore carried 25 times for 166 yards and two scores. QB Casey Kelly was 18-25 passing for 202 yards and three TDs. UNM ran 81 plays to Utah State's 57, but the Aggies totaled 447 yards of offense, including 340 yards passing. Jose Fuentes completed only 16 passes for USU, but averaged more than 21 yards per completion, including TD passes of 25, 24, 80 and 32 yards. WR Kevin Curtis caught six passes for 180 yards and a TD.
AGGIE NOTES: Utah State finished 4-7 in 2002. The Aggies were an independent last season, but now compete in the Sun Belt Conference. USU returns 44 lettermen, including 12 starters, five on offense and seven on defense.
Head coach Mick Dennehy is in his fourth season in Logan where he has a 14-23 record. He is 63-48 overall in 11 years as a head coach, including three seasons (1988-90) at Western Montana and four years at Montana (1996-99). The 1973 Montana graduate is 1-0 against the Lobos.
Utah State is averaging 322.5 yards of total offense, 100.8 on the ground and 221.8 through the air. The Aggies are averaging 17.8 points a game. Defensively, USU is allowing 26.8 points and 370.5 yards a game, 170.3 yards on the ground and 200.3 passing.
USU tailback David Fiefia (5-8, 200) galloped for 142 yards and two TDs in last Saturday's win against Louisiana-Monroe. Fiefia has 333 yards in four games. Aggie QBs have been sacked 16 times.
NEW MEXICO STATE RECAP: New Mexico scored 17 second-half points following Aggie turnovers to rally for a 24-17 victory, snapping a three-game losing streak. A school-record crowd of 44,075 was on hand at University Stadium.
UNM trailed 14-7 at halftime after getting burned by two long pass plays (28 yards and 72 yards) by the run-oriented Aggies. NMSU took the opening kickoff of the second half. On 3rd-and-4, Lobo S Sidney Wiley (Hazelhurst, Miss.) intercepted Buck Pierce and UNM was in business at the Aggie 26. Five plays later, sophomore TB DonTrell Moore (Roswell, N.M.) scored from 11 yards out to tie the game at 14-14. On the Aggies' next possession, sophomore CB Gabriel Fulbright (DeSoto, Texas) picked off Pierce. Fulbright fumbled after the interception, but teammate Brandon Ratcliff (Dallas, Texas) returned the ball to the NMSU 33. The Lobos converted that miscue into a 43-yard FG by K Wes Zunker (New Braunfels, Texas) and a 17-14 lead.
The Lobos punted at the end of the third period, but deep snapper Martin Lovato (Albuquerque) jarred the ball loose from return man Ronshay Jenkins. Kevin Walton (Denver, Colo.) recovered at the 8. UNM took a 24-14 lead when freshman QB Kole McKamey (Artesia, N.M.) lofted a 7-yard pass to sophomore WR Hank Baskett (Clovis, N.M.). McKamey played the entire second half after starter Casey Kelly threw a pair of interceptions in the first half.
The Aggies closed the gap to 24-17 with a 31-yard FG. The potential NMSU comeback was thwarted when DE Zack Rupp (Pleasant Grove, Utah) stripped the ball from QB Paul Dombrowski. LB Billy Strother (Evansville, Ind.) recovered. NMSU had one last shot to tie but never got past midfield.
For the second straight week, New Mexico finished with a season-low for total offense, 228 yards, and had just 76 in the second half. The Lobos only had three first downs after halftime, none in the fourth quarter.
NOTES FROM NEW MEXICO STATE: The record crowd of 44,075 easily broke the previous mark of 41,771 set against UTEP in the 2001 season opener. UNM actually had to turn students away at the gate before the game. New Mexico is now averaging 37,671 fans through three games. Seating capacity at University Stadium is 37,370.
The last time a Lobo team had less than 228 yards of total offense and won was three years ago at New Mexico State. UNM managed just 168 yards in a 16-13 victory over the Aggies in Las Cruces in 2000.
After forcing no turnovers against BYU or Washington State, UNM got five (three fumbles and two interceptions) against the Aggies, which led to 17 second-half points. The Lobos are now +1 in turnover margin for the season.
The five turnovers caused are the most since the Lobos got five against UTEP in the 2001 season opener, a 26-6 win.
Casey Kelly was picked off twice on the evening, giving him five for the season and raising the team total to six. Lobo QBs threw 10 in 14 games last season.
DonTrell Moore tied a career-high with 30 carries, a mark he set last year against Colorado State. Moore finished the night with 113 yards and two touchdowns. It's the 7th 100-yard rushing game of his career. Moore is now No. 18 all-time at UNM with 1,519 career rushing yards. His 20 career rushing TDs rank 6th all-time.
Senior WR Dwight Counter (Lancaster, Texas) hauled in the 100th reception of his career. Counter is now 7th all-time at UNM with 102 catches and 8th with 1,560 career yards.
Wes Zunker's 43-yard field goal was his first since connecting from 28 yards out at Air Force last year, a span of 15 games.
Senior deep snapper Martin Lovato notched the second forced fumble of his career, both of which have set up Lobo TDs. Lovato also had a hit and forced fumble vs. Utah last year.
Billy Strother led the team with 11 tackles, to follow up a career-high 15 stops at Washington State. Strother, who also recovered a fumble, deflected a pass and had a tackle for a loss, is averaging just over nine tackles a game this season.
Senior DE Daniel Kegler (Frostproof, Fla.) had his best game of the season with six tackles, including a sack and a tackle for loss. Kegler also forced a fumble in the redzone, which he recovered.
Hank Baskett has eight career receptions, four of those going for TDs.
OFFENSE NOTES: New Mexico is outscoring its opponents 83-35 in the third (41-18) and fourth (42-17) quarters.
UNM's offense has cooled after a hot start. The Lobos averaged 50 points, 267 yards rushing, 303 yards passing and 570 yards of total offense in the first two games against Texas State-San Marcos and Texas Tech. In the last three games, New Mexico is averaging 14.7 points and 265.7 yards of total offense, 112.7 on the ground and 153 passing. The average is just 242.2 the past two games.
Casey Kelly is now 13-11 as a starter at New Mexico, which places him No. 6 on the career wins list. Current UNM head coach Rocky Long is the all-time leader with 16 victories from 1969-71. Kelly ranks 4th at UNM with 4,398 yards passing, 4th in career completions (356), 5th in TD passes (27) and 6th in career completion percentage (52.9%).
Kelly threw for a career-high 349 yards at Texas Tech, the most by a Lobo since Graham Leigh tossed for 359 yards against San Diego State in 1998. Kelly also set career-bests for completions (22) and attempts (42).
DonTrell Moore became the sixth Lobo to score at least four rushing TDs in a single game against Texas State. Reginal Johnson tallied five against Tulsa in 1996. Four other Lobos scored four via the run, including Long against Utah in 1971.
Subbing for the injured Moore, D.D. Cox had a memorable evening at Texas Tech. Although his first carry did not come until midway through the second quarter, Cox finished with the 11th-best rushing day in school history: 187 yards on 27 carries and three TDs. He was a real workhorse after halftime, toting it 19 times for 140 yards and getting all of his scores. Cox was also a receiver, hauling in four receptions for 69 yards. His 256 all-purpose yards is the 9th-best single-game total by a Lobo.
Senior WR Adrian Boyd (Flint, Mich.) recorded career-highs with 8 receptions for 100 yards at Washington State. He's the first UNM receiver to gain at least 100 yards since Dwight Counter had 100 last year against Utah.
UNM totaled 584 yards of offense against Texas Tech, the most since registering 620 yards versus Air Force in 2001. The Lobos had 556 yards against Texas State-San Marcos, giving them back-to-back 500-yard performances for the first time since the 1994 season. The 1,140 yards the first two contests are the most in consecutive games since 1,149 yards against New Mexico State (584) and Fresno State (565) in '94.
Dwight Counter's 40-yard run in the first quarter against Texas State was a career long. He finished with a career-high 192 all-purpose yards (40 rushing, 65 on punt returns, 87 receiving).
Under Rocky Long, the Lobos are 13-5 when rushing for 200 yards or more and 12-3 when exceeding 225 yards. The losses came against Colorado State (254 yards) in 1999, Utah State (263 yards) in 2002 and Texas Tech (235) this season.
DEFENSE NOTES: The Lobos are 1-10 under Rocky Long when they don't force a turnover, the lone win coming against Northern Arizona in 1999. BYU has been error-free against Long's Lobos three times (1999, 2001, 2003).
The Lobos have allowed just two rushing TDs through the first five games.
New Mexico has at least one sack in 18 straight games. The most recent sack-free game was last year's season opener at North Carolina State. UNM had a season-high five sacks of Washington State QB Matt Kegel, who had been dumped just three times in three prior games against Idaho, Notre Dame and Colorado. UNM is second in the MWC with 15 sacks. San Diego State has 16. The Lobos led the league every year from 2000-02.
New Mexico also leads the MWC in rushing defense, allowing 85.2 yards a game. Through five games this year against predominantly passing teams, UNM is allowing 20.8 points, 85.2 yards rushing, 303.0 yards passing and 388.2 yards total. Last year through five games, New Mexico was yielding 24 points, 152.8 yards rushing, 167.2 yards passing and 320.0 total yards.
WORDS FROM ROCKY: (on New Mexico State) -- "I thought Casey was making a lot mistakes, mistakes that were giving them some momentum and a chance to take the game away from us, so I decided to change quarterbacks at halftime. It's not a permanent thing. Casey is still our starting quarterback. He was just making some mistakes that could've turned the game in our favor. I thought we'd put Kole (McKamey) in, be a little more conservative on offense and count on our defense causing turnovers to get us back in the game. Fortunately, that's what happened. I thought the game was very intense like a rivalry game should be. I have the greatest respect for New Mexico State, I think they do a great job down there. I love New Mexico and the only time I don't like New Mexico State is when we play them because I want them to win every game except the one they play against us."
(on Utah State) -- "I don't expect this game to be any different than last Saturday's against New Mexico State or any different than last year's game up there (in Logan). They have played three very good football teams to start the season and hung in there with all of them. Offensively, they do everything imaginable. Our job on defense is to not get confused with all the alignments, formations and motion that they use. We have to be more disciplined with our pass coverage than we were on a couple of plays last week against New Mexico State. We are still seeking consistency on offense. Casey (Kelly) will start because he is our best quarterback. It should be a good homecoming game. Hopefully, we'll get a crowd like last week. I know the coaches and the team were very grateful for the turnout. It was awesome."