Sept. 27, 2004
The top two finishers in the 2003 Mountain West Conference standings meet Friday as New Mexico hosts nationally-ranked and undefeated Utah at University Stadium in Albuquerque. The Lobos and Utes get underway at 6:03 p.m., Mountain Time for the national telecast on ESPN2. This is UNM's second Friday game this season. The Lobos opened the year on ESPN, hosting Washington State Sept. 3. A capacity crowd in excess of 38,000 is expected for UNM's conference opener.
It's a big weekend in the Southwest as the 33rd Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta opens Friday and runs through Oct. 10.
The Lobos have a 4-2 record in ESPN2 telecasts since their debut in 1996. That game was also against Utah in Albuquerque. The Utes won 31-24.
The Utes have won eight straight games since losing to the Lobos 47-35, last year in Salt Lake City.
The Lobos evened their record at 2-2 last weekend following a dominating 38-3 triumph at New Mexico State. It's UNM's largest margin of victory in Las Cruces and the biggest overall road win since a 56-7 decision at UTEP in 1972.
The jubilation in Las Cruces was tempered somewhat as two-time all-league TB DonTrell Moore suffered a sprained left MCL and a bone bruise. His availability for Friday's game will depend on how quickly the swelling subsides and his range of motion returns. Moore, who gained 92 yards on 17 carries in the first half on his 22nd birthday, was felled very early in the third quarter while attempting to field a punt. An Aggie tackler - who was called for interference on the play - plowed into Moore right before the attempted catch. The junior did manage to move past Fred Henry into 3rd place on UNM's career rushing list with 2,940 yards. Senior D.D. Cox, who had 106 yards rushing at Utah last year and 110 yards and 3 TDs at New Mexico State Saturday, would start if Moore can't go. Moore has carried 45 times for 282 yards and 3 TDs in 2 career games against the Utes.
A 3-2 start would be New Mexico's best since the 1997 team began 6-0. UNM has been 2-3 after five games every year since head coach Rocky Long started in 1998.
Currently ranked 14th in both polls and the overwhelming preseason favorite to win the Mountain West Conference title, Utah improved to 4-0 overall and 1-0 in the league after outscoring Air Force 49-35 Saturday in Salt Lake City. It's the Utes' best start since 1994.
New Mexico's last two wins versus ranked teams have come against Friday's opponent. In fact, UNM has knocked off the Utes the last two times they have entered the game with a national ranking. On Nov. 5, 1994, Dennis Franchione's Lobos upset Utah 23-21 in a homecoming contest at University Stadium. The Utes were 8-0 and ranked 8th by AP and 9th in the coaches' poll. UNM was 3-6 heading into that game. The Lobos then lost eight straight games to ranked opponents before taking down the 23rd-ranked Utes a year ago in Salt Lake City.
Entering 2004, New Mexico was tied with Colorado State for the best league record over the previous two years (2002-03) at 10-4. Utah was 9-5 during that span. The Lobos are 9-3 in their past 12 league tilts.
The Lobos are 2-3 in MWC openers and also 2-3 in league home debuts.
New Mexico went 3-0 in October last year, the first time they were undefeated in the 10th month since going 5-0 in 1959. UNM is 11-4 in October since the 1999 season, winning four straight.
GAME SPONORS / PROMOTIONS - Game sponsors include Farmer's Insurance, Alltel, Zia Graphics, 92.3 KRST, 93.3 KOB-FM and New Mexico's WB and UPN 50. It's Youth Day with inflatable games and face painting for kids of all ages at the north end of the stadium.
All fans who purchase tickets in the lower sections of DD, EE, FF, GG and HH on the east side of the stadium will receive a free t-shirt courtesy of Farmer's Insurance, Alltel and Zia Graphics. The t-shirts will be distributed when fans get to their seats and they must show their ticket stub as proof of location. Sections EE, FF and GG are reserved for UNM students while the other two sections are for the general public. Approximately 6,500 t-shirts will be distributed and the color of shirt will alternate by section. Section DD will be all silver, section EE cherry, etc.
COACH LONG SAYS - (On New Mexico State) -- "We played pretty well on both sides of the ball. It's really no secret that to be effective on offense you have to be able to run the football, and that's what we did. On the other side, when you can stop a team from running your defense usually has a good game, and we were able to do that too. Going into the game I didn't think we would be able to run it quite like we did. Our advantage in time of possession was a nice change from the previous two games. We got points off of long drives and after turnovers. The defense was able to stay fresh."
(On Utah) -- "They've got great players back with a lot of experience. It seems like I've said this every week, but this is probably the best football team we've faced to this point of the season. We have confidence that we can play with them. They probably have a revenge factor from last year's game. I know they'll be all fired up. They're big and strong up front. They run an unusal offense that is different to prepare for in a short week. I'm sure they have visions of being a BCS contender, and rightfully so."
LONG APPROACHING RECORD FOR GAMES COACHED - Head coach Rocky Long is in his seventh season at his alma mater and is now third on the school's all-time win list at 35-42.
In terms of total seasons, only Roy Johnson (11) and Bill Weeks (8) have been at UNM for more time than Long. However, with 77 games spent on the sidelines, Long will become the school's career leader in games coached when the Lobos visit BYU on Nov. 13. That will be Long's 83rd game at UNM, surpassing Weeks' total of 82 from 1960-67.
UNM VS. UTAH - New Mexico and Utah meet for the 46th time...the Utes have a 28-15-2 overall lead in a series that began in the 1939 Sun Bowl in El Paso....Utah won the initial meeting 26-0
The Lobos have won consecutive games in the series for the first time since a 3-game run between 1992-94...last year's 47-35 victory over the 23rd-ranked Utes was UNM's first win in Salt Lake since 1993 and first decision over a ranked team on the road since 1975 when it beat No. 13 Arizona 44-34
The series is tied 11-11-1 in Albuquerque although the Lobos have won the past two at University Stadium...the two teams played a real dandy two years ago in Albuquerque as the Lobos came out on top in double overtime, 42-35...UNM scored with 46 seconds left in regulation to send it into overtime...both teams scored TDs in the first OT, but UNM scored on its first possession of the second OT then held the Utes on downs to win the thriller...DonTrell Moore rushed 26 times for 163 yards...Utah QB Brett Elliott was 26 of 39 for 440 yards and four TDs...the Lobos ran seven plays in overtime, all on the ground
The Lobos' largest margin of victory over the Utes is 57-39 in Albuquerque on Nov. 6, 1971...current head coach Rocky Long was UNM's starting QB that afternoon and he guided the Lobo triple option to 543 yards on the ground, still the 3rd-best single-game rushing total in school history...Long rushed 19 times for 162 yards and scored a school-record-tying 4 TDs...he also completed a 53-yard TD pass and tossed for a 2-point conversion, thus accounting for 32 points on the day...RB Fred Henry carried 16 times for 218 yards, equaling a school record that stood for six years
MORE FROM LAST YEAR'S GAME - In a game matching two of the best defensive teams in the league, the Lobo offense claimed the headlines by churning out 633 yards - 407 on the ground - in a convincing 47-35 victory over the league-leading Utes.
The game began predictably with a scoreless first quarter and the two teams combining for just 134 yards. The Utes got on the board first after DonTrell Moore fumbled inside the Lobo 20, setting up Mike Liti's 2-yard run. New Mexico answered with a 1-yard TD run by Moore. D.D. Cox's 45-yard gallop was the key play of the drive.
For the second week in a row, the Lobos' Billy Strother scored on a blocked punt in the second quarter to change momentum. Freshman Jonathan Harrell came right up the middle to reject the kick and Strother scored easily from the 3.
After the first of several long kickoff returns, Utah needed just six plays to go 55 yards and take its last lead of the afternoon on a 21-yard TD pass. Getting the ball with 1:59 before halftime, UNM marched to the Utah 7 where it settled for a 24-yard FG by Zunker and a 16-14 lead at the break.
Just as they had in their previous three games, the Lobos scored on their opening drive of the second half. It took all of nine seconds as Casey Kelly hooked up with WR Adrian Boyd on a 57-yard TD. After a Utah punt, UNM needed just two plays and 13 seconds for its next score. Kelly tossed 40 yards to WR Dwight Counter then Cox scored from the 20 to make it 30-14 less than four minutes into the quarter. A pair of Zunker FGs and a 35-yard cross-field option scamper by Moore gave UNM a 44-20 advantage at the end of the third period.
In the decisive third quarter, New Mexico scored 28 points and totaled a staggering 270 yards of offense. It's the most points the Lobos have ever scored in the third quarter of a football game.
After no points in the first quarter, the Lobos scored on seven straight offensive possessions in the second and third periods, gaining 482 yards in the process.
Utah was held to just 300 yards, 70 of those coming on its final drive. UNM made it somewhat easy for the Ute offense as it only had to travel 18, 11 and 20 yards for three of its four TDs. Utah had 71 yards rushing in the first quarter, but only nine thereafter.
The 47 points are the most scored in Salt Lake City since a 58-49 loss in 1985. It's the most points in a road game since a 56-31 victory at New Mexico State in 1994 and the highest output in a league road game since a 49-47 defeat at BYU, also in `94.
The 633 yards rank 8th-best all-time for a Lobo team and are the most since UNM had a school-record 691 yards in a 41-39 loss at Utah in 1989. Four of the Lobos' top-nine offensive performances have come against the Utes.
The 407 yards rushing are the most since UNM gained 423 against New Mexico State in 1997.
Moore (119) and Cox (106) both surpassed 100 yards on the ground and the Lobos came close to having three reach the century mark as FB Adrian Byrd ran for a career-high 98 yards, including a career-best 78-yard jaunt. Additionally, Casey Kelly rambled for a season-high 68 yards on 15 carries.
Coming into the game, the Utah defense was allowing an average of just 17.4 ppg, 105 yards rushing and 337.3 total yards. In three prior games before UNM came calling, the Utes had yielded just 29 total points and 214 rushing yards.
Kelly completed just 9 of 23 passes, but he had the long ball going for a total of 226 yards, or 25.1 yards per completion.
The five starters on the offensive line - C Ryan Cook, OT Justin Colburn, OT Jason Lenzmeier, OG Claude Terrell and OG Robert Turner - all had assignment grades of 95% or higher and at least 12 knockdowns apiece. Lenzmeier, who would be named MWC Offensive Player of the Week two days later, was best at 99% while Cook had a team-high 16 KDs.
UTE NOTES - Utah returns 37 lettermen, including a league-high 17 starters, 8 on offense and 7 on defense. Head coach Urban Meyer (Cincinnati `86) is 31-8 in his fourth year overall, including 14-2 in his second season at Utah. Junior QB Alex Smith is the nation's 3rd-ranked passer with a rating of 187.6. He has completed 55 of 86 passes (64%) for 952 yards with 8 TDs and no interceptions. Smith is 13-1 as Utah's starter. He threw a career-high 4 TD passes against UNM last year.
COMPARING THE STATS - Utah is 1st in the MWC in scoring offense (40.2 ppg) and total offense (463.5) while the Lobos are No. 1 in the league in scoring defense (16.2 ppg), rushing defense (66.2 ypg) and total defense (322.0 ypg)
The Utes have a balanced attack, averaging 208.5 yards a game on the ground and 255 through the air...they are 1st in the league and 4th in the nation in pass efficiency offense with a rating of 180.0...Utah passers have completed over 64% of their attempts with 9 TDs and just 1 interception...New Mexico is allowing 255.8 passing yards a game - 99th nationally - but its pass efficiency defense rating of 111.2 rates 3rd in the MWC and is 41st nationally
Utah has a +7 turnover margin after 4 games...the Utes have created 10 turnovers while committing only 3 themselves...their margin of +1.75 a game is best in the conference and 9th nationally
NEW MEXICO STATE REVIEW - A week after its worst offensive performance in 16 years, the Lobos had one of their most dominating in the 38-3 victory at New Mexico State...UNM steamrolled the Aggies for 409 total yards, including a season-high 321 yards rushing on 62 carries...all 5 of New Mexico's TDs came via the run...the Lobos ran 27 more plays than NMSU and controlled the clock for a season-high 37:28...the offense had scored just 44 points in the team's first 3 games
In the previous 2 games before New Mexico State, the Lobo offense had run just 123 plays to the opponents' 183, and had the ball for an average of 23:27
How impressive was the running game? UNM coaches credited the team with a staggering 133 knockdown blocks...the Lobos only had 39 against Oregon State...sophomore OG Robert Turner led the linemen with a career-high 21, giving him a team-best 64 KDs after 4 games...sophomore OG Fred Tucker had a career-high 17, senior OT Claude Terrell (20) and junior C Ryan Cook (17) tied their career-bests, senior TE Mike Augustyniak registered 14 while senior FB Landrick Brody posted a career-best 11
The defense was equally impressive, holding New Mexico State to 124 yards, 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
The Lobo defense was on the field for just 48 official snaps, the fewest since limiting Air Force to 46 in 2001...that was a welcome relief after UNM defenders participated in 183 against Texas Tech (92) and Oregon State (91), the most in consecutive games in 13 years
UNM's total offense average increased from 281.3 to 313.2 yards a game while the total defense average dropped to 322 from 388.3
For the third straight week, the Lobo defense limited the opposition to just a FG in the second half...opponents have scored 30 points after halftime this season, 21 of those coming from Washington State in the season opener, although the Cougars only had to travel 18 and 4 yards for 14 of their points
New Mexico forced two turnovers that led to 14 points in the third quarter...senior S Josh Bazinet's first career interception came at the Aggie 23...three plays later Cox scored from 9 yards out...senior LB Chrishone Harris recovered an errant option pitch at the 5 that led to a 1-yard plunge by QB Kole McKamey, giving UNM a 31-0 lead
UNM has won eight straight game 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 past 3 games, Bazinet has 25 tackles, 2 sacks for 19 yards, 2 forced fumbles, 2 fumble recoveries (1 for a TD), 4 pass deflections and an interception...he is 2nd on the team with 28 tackles and is atop the MWC rankings with 3 fumble recoveries and 2nd with 2 caused fumbles
Senior LB Nick Speegle made a team-high 10 tackles, including 3 tackles for a loss, a 4-yard sack and a pass deflection...he now leads the team with 32 stops and remains 19th all-time at UNM with 257 career tackles...Speegle has played in 42 games with 34 consecutive starting assignments
Senior D.D. Cox logged his fourth career 100-yard rushing effort with 110 yards on 25 carries...he scored 3 TDs on runs of 10, 1 and 9 yards
Junior P Tyler Gaus kicked 3 times for a 46-yard average, increasing his season number to 41.8...his first punt of the night was a career-long 62-yarder into the wind that landed on the NMSU 10-yard line...the Aggies punted 4 plays later and UNM scored on its ensuing possession...his other two punts were downed at the 3 and the 10...9 of his 21 kicks this year have landed inside the 20
Junior TE Logan Hall had a 31-yard catch to set up the Lobos' second TD of the night...it was Hall's first catch since the opening drive of the 2004 season opener vs. Washington State
Two true freshmen made their collegiate debuts against NMSU...WR Travis Brown caught a 5-yard pass and got 2 knockdown blocks in 15 offensive snaps...S Tyson Ditmore, playing in his hometown of Las Cruces, got in for 16 special-teams plays and six snaps at safety...he was credited with 2 assisted tackles
The Lobos used 61 players in the game
TEAM NOTES TO DATE - The Lobos are now 27-8 under Rocky Long when committing fewer turnovers in a game, including 10 straight victories since late in the 2002 season
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
Attendance for Texas Tech was 38,746, the third-largest gate in UNM history
The losses to Washington State and Oregon State pushed the Lobos' losing streak against Pac-10 teams to nine game
OFFENSE NOTES - DonTrell Moore rushed 24 times for 167 yards and 1 TD against Washington State...it's 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 game-winning 43-yard FG...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 75 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 froom 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 - The Lobos are 1st in the MWC and 7th nationally in rushing defense, allowing just 66.2 yards a game..UNM has led the league in that category 3 times in the past 4 years (2000, `01 and `03), finishing 5th nationally in 2001 and 2003
Senior CB Brandon Payne is off to a torrid start...he leads the MWC and is tied for 5th nationally with 3 interceptions...Payne broke up 3 passes at Oregon State and now has 8 on the season...the next closest in the league is San Diego State's Marv Underwood with 4...at this pace, Payne will blow away the school record of 14 PBUs set by Eric Jack in 1993...to put Payne's performance in further perspective, Gabriel Fulbright led UNM with 6 PBUs last year while the 2003 MWC leaders were San Diego State's Jacob Elimimian and Jeff Shoate with 14 apiece
New Mexico's lone TD at Oregon State came on a 70-yard fumble return by senior S Josh Bazinet...Bazinet and LB Nick Speegle teamed to sack Oregon State QB Derek Anderson, forcing a fumble...Bazinet scooped up the loose ball for the Lobos' first fumble return for a score since Hebrews Josue and Billy Strother combined on an 83-yard TD against Weber State in 2002... Josue went the first 41 yards before lateraling to Strother who took it the remaining 42 yards