Sept. 3, 2011
LOBO FOOTBALL - AT UNIVERSITY STADIUM
Saturday: Colorado State 14, Lobos 10
Up Next: Lobos at Arkansas, Sept. 10
By Richard Stevens - Senior Writer/GoLobos.com
If you take this game apart statistically, you chalk up a Lobo win and then say, "Bring on Arkansas."
Of course, that's discounting the numbers that ended up on the University Stadium scoreboard that favored Colorado State, 14-10
"It's a little shock to the heart taking this loss," said Lobo linebacker Dallas Bollema, who led New Mexico with 13 tackles.
Yeah, it hurts because the stats that so often influence the numbers on the scoreboard leaned toward the Lobos. UNM had more first downs (22-12), more rushing yards (150-92), more total yards (329-270) and won the time of possession battle 33:34 to 26:26.
Those numbers should have equated to a Lobo win and they might have if it hadn't been for a few other numbers that can stain a team's movement of the scoreboard.
The Lobos had six fumbles and lost three of them - one about six inches away from the CSU end zone. The Lobos also had nine penalties -- one in the final minute of play on the CSU 5-yard line. UNM's Tarean Austin also was sacked ten times - the last one resulting in a game-ending fumble that ensured CSU would open the Mountain West race at 1-0 and UNM would fall to 0-1.
Locksley said "one side of the ball" didn't show up. That was the offensive side which actually had a few impressive spurts of movement, but also self-inflicted too much damage. The Lobo defense was another story.
"I think we played well enough on defense to win the game," said Locksley. "There is great disappointment by our players because we know this is a game we should have won."
The game definitely was a nail-biter at the end. CSU used field position to throw up a 14-10 lead with 7:17 to play. That 40-yard drive ended with tailback Chris Nwoke rolling through a big hole on the left side of his line.
The Lobos marched inside the CSU 30, but turned the ball over on downs on fourth-and-14 when a bull rush by the CSU front bulled over Austin. CSU had the ball looking to burn exactly three minutes off the clock.
CSU worked the clock down to 2:01 and looking at a fourth down, it appeared the Rams were a punt away from a win. Amazingly, CSU Coach Steve Fairchild decided to test the UNM front line. The coach that went 3-9 his last two seasons lost that test and UNM took over at the CSU 45-yard line with 1:57 to play.
Then the Lobos were hurt by a critical penalty and a semi-critical fumble. Austin moved UNM to the CSU 5-yard line on a keeper, but a holding penalty on Deon Long pushed UNM back 10 yards.
The Lobos might not have gotten the winning score, but with 23 seconds to play, UNM snapped the ball to Austin. The UNM sophomore was hit hard from behind by defensive end Nordly Capri, who caused and recovered the fumble. Game Over
"We have to get the offense going," said Locksley. "It's not like the offense was dead ...." But the Austin-led offense got into the end zone only one time.
CSU wasn't much better. The UNM defense held CSU to 92 yards rushing. The Rams ran for 328 yards a year ago in their win over the Lobos at CSU. Senior linebacker Carmen Messina had eight tackles and safety Freddy Young added six.
The Rams often went with a maximum protection scheme for quarterback Pete Thomas, who completed 22-of-26 passes for 178 yards. That conservative mindset also hurt CSU on numerous offensive series. CSU won this game by producing good field position in the fourth quarter and by UNM "beating ourselves," as Bollema put it.
"It's tough," he said. "We ended up making a few too many mistakes."
Locksley said since his Lobos outplayed CSU in many areas and were competitive with the Rams, he doesn't expect to see any hanging heads like he did a year ago after UNM's opening 72-0 loss at Oregon.
That's good because the Lobos need to be high and focused for their next challenge - at Arkansas.
The Lobos opened the second half with a nice drive that ended when Ram Nordly Capi got around UNM's Korian Chambers and slapped the football out of Austin's hands. The Rams recovered the fumble. CSU didn't do anything with the offensive possession and punted the ball back to UNM.
CSU held UNM on three downs, forcing UNM to punt out of its end zone. CSU took over on the UNM 35-yard line with 7:19 to play in the third quarter. A second-down sack by Messina pushed CSU back to the 39. CSU went conservative on third down and then went for it on fourth.
CSU's Thomas fumbled trying to avoid a sack and UNM took over on its 38-yard line. The Lobos didn't do anything with the ball either and punted it back to the Rams with 3:25 to play in the third frame. CSU worked the ball down to UNM's 12-yard line when the quarter ended. CSU was looking at third-and-two going into the final 15 minutes.
UNM held CSU on third-and-two at the 12. The Rams opted for a short field goal, but the ugly line drive was wide and UNM dodged the bullet. The Lobos quickly dodged another bullet when Austin was sacked and fumbled. UNM recovered but had to again punt out of its end zone. CSU took over at the UNM 40-yard line with 12:56 to play.
Again, CSU had good field position looking for a tying field goal or a go-ahead TD. CSU kept its drive alive converting on a fourth-and-one when tail back Chris Nwoke got around the corner. An end around by Lou Greenwood handed the Rams a first down at the UNM 15-yard line with 9:49 to play.
CSU's Thomas hit Matt Yemm in the flats on third-and-five to produce a Ram first down on the UNM three. Nwoke found a hole on the left side of his line and went into the end zone untouched on a second-down run. CSU had a 14-10 lead. CSU went 40 yards in 11 plays to take the lead.
UNM came out running and produced two first downs off runs by Wright and Austin. UNM was at the CSU 47-yard line. An Austin to Deon Long pass had UNM at the CSU 36 with a first down. A Demarcus Rogers' run up the middle on third down had UNM facing fourth-and-inches just short of the CSU 26. An Austin keeper produced the first down.
Austin got tackled in the backfield and then threw two incomplete passes to produce a fourth-and-14. UNM went for it with 3:07 to play and the UNM pocket disappeared under a bull rush by the CSU front four. Austin disappeared, too, and CSU had the ball looking at 3:00 to burn off the clock
CSU ran right for a yard and UNM called time with 2:53 to play. Thomas flipped a short pass into the flats to give CSU a third-and-five. CSU ran up the middle for four yards and had a fourth-and-one. Amazingly, the Rams didn't punt and went for it. The Lobos held. UNM took over with 1:57 to play, but could not push the ball into the end zone.
Austin's fumble in a collapsing pocket ended UNM's shot at the miracle finish.
First Half - Lobos 10, Colorado State 7
The Lobos' first touchdown in a season opener since the 2005 season came off an impressive drive engineered by Tarean Austin. It handed the Lobos their 10-7 lead going into the half. It was a good psychological drive, too. Colorado State had just taken a 7-3 lead with 1:32 to play in the half when Ram Crock Gillmore out jumped a Lobo defender in the end zone.
UNM and Austin took over the ball at the UNM 20-yard line with 1:32 to play. UNM got a scare one play before its touchdown as Austin was hit in the pocket and fumbled. A Ram had a good chance to recover the bouncing ball, but tried to pick it up rather than fall on it. The ball was bumped away from him and Austin recovered.
The Lobo sophomore used the second chance to loft a perfectly-timed pass to Lamaar Thomas, who broke to the left corner of the end zone. James Aho converted the PAT and UNM carried that 3-point lead into the locker room.
UNM ended the first half with 13 first downs and 212 total yards on offense. CSU had seven first downs and 169 total yards. The CSU run game had been pretty much shut down in the first 30 minutes, rolling out 41 yards on 10 carries. UNM had 82 yards on the ground on 25 carries. .
Austin finished the first half going 12-of-15 through the air for 130 yard with one TD. Deon Long had three receptions for 41 yards. Austin also was UNM's leading rusher with 42 yards on 13 carries. Thomas went 13-of-16 passing for 128 yards and a single TD. .
The first quarter was a scoreless affair marked by some pretty good defense. The Lobos dominated slightly on the first quarter stats totaling 80 yards in offense to 69 yards for CSU. The Lobos had the edge on the ground with 54 yards to 24 for the Rams. CSU had 45 passing yards and the Lobos had 24. Both Austin and Thomas were efficient in their passing. Austin went 5-of-7 passing in the quarter and Thomas went 6-of-7.