Lobos Face Non-Conference Challenge At Washington State
Courtesy: New Mexico Athletics  
Release:  09/15/2003
Courtesy: New Mexico Athletics

September 15, 2003

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The New Mexico Lobos return to non-conference action Saturday, meeting the 24th-ranked Washington State Cougars in Pullman. It's UNM's first meeting against WSU and its inaugural gridiron appearance in the state of Washington. Kickoff is 3:05 p.m. Mountain Time (2:05 locally) from Martin Stadium. KRQE-TV in Albuquerque will pick up FOX Sports Northwest's feed of the game and show it on a delayed basis beginning at 5:30 p.m. Albuquerque time.

The Lobos and Cougars will play next year at University Stadium. The tentative date is the season opener on September 4, 2004. On Saturday, UNM will be trying to avoid its fourth 1-3 start in the past five years.

New Mexico is 1-2 overall and 0-1 in the Mountain West Conference after suffering a narrow 10-7 loss at the hands of BYU. The defeat snapped a four-game home winning streak.

Washington State improved to 2-1 following an impressive 47-26 victory at 17th-ranked Colorado. WSU led 47-13 at one point. The Cougars had a bevy of big plays. Sammy Moore returned the second-half kickoff 97 yards for a score and caught a 74-yard TD pass from Matt Kegel. Kegel also tossed a 77-yard scoring pass to Scott Lunde while CB Jason David returned an interception 41 yards for another TD.

The loss to BYU proved costly on the injury front as well. Senior OT Jason Lenzmeier (Frisco, Texas) suffered a torn left medial collateral ligament just before halftime and will miss the next two to three games. Lenzmeier, accorded as the nation's 17th-best offensive tackle by The Sporting News before the season and considered to be the team's top professional prospect, made his 35th consecutive start against BYU. Starting senior LB Fola Fashola (Marshall, Texas) was lost for the season with a torn ACL at Texas Tech. Fashola was leading the team in sacks (3), tackles for loss (4) and pass defelections (3) when he was sidelined.

There may not be a lot of Lobo fans making the trip to Pullman, but the team is expected to have a cheering section. The UNM women's soccer team will be at the game on Saturday. The Lobos play at Washington State Friday night and at Idaho on Sunday afternoon.

UNM junior QB Tali Ena (Prosser, Wash.) spent his first two years at WSU. Ena transferred to New Mexico following the 2001 season. He was a redshirt for the Cougars in 2000 and played in four games in '01 as Jason Gesser's backup. Ena led Prosser High to the 1999 Class 3A state title.

The Lobos are 9-3 in their last 12 contests at University Stadium. New Mexico was 3-0 at home last year against MWC opposition and it has won six of its past eight league games in Albuquerque. UNM has also captured six of its last seven home games against non-conference competition.

Picked to finish second in the MWC in the preseason poll, UNM returns 53 lettermen - including 17 offensive and defensive starters - from a team that finished second in the MWC last year and played in a bowl game for only the second time since 1961.

New Mexico was picked to finish second in the official Mountain West Conference preseason poll. That's the highest predicted finish for a Lobo team since polls could be found dating to the early 1980s. Six Lobos were named to the 2003 preseason all-MWC team: OT Jason Lenzmeier, TB DonTrell Moore and OG Claude Terrell on offense and DE Daniel Kegler, S Brandon Ratcliff and NT D.J. Renteria on defense.

The Lobos received nine votes in the ESPN/USA Today Top 25 preseason coaches' poll, good for a tie for 47th place with Georgia Tech. They had 13 votes prior to the Texas Tech game. UNM's Rocky Long is one of 63 NCAA Div. I-A head coaches who votes in the poll.

For only the second time in the history of University Stadium, the Lobos will play seven home games in 2003. UNM also played seven here in 1995.

Going 13-12 in 2001-02, New Mexico guns for its third straight non-losing record for the first time since a seven-year run from 1958-64. After playing in the Las Vegas Bowl last year, UNM seeks consecutive postseason appearances for only the second time in school history, since appearing in the 1945 Sun Bowl and the 1946 Harbor Bowl. The most wins by New Mexico in a three-year period is 22 between 1962-64. * New Mexico has the distinction of being the only school in the nation to increase its win total every year since 1999: UNM was 3-9 in 1998, 4-7 in 1999, 5-7 in 2000, 6-5 in 2001 and 7-7 in 2002.

LOBOS WORTH WATCHING: Several Lobos are currently on "Watch Lists" for national awards:

Rimington Trophy - Outstanding Center (www.rimingtontrophy.com) C Ryan Cook

Doak Walker Award - Outstanding Running Back (www.doakwalkeraward.com) TB DonTrell Moore

Butkus Award - Best Linebacker (www.butkusaward.org) LB Billy Strother

Rotary Lombardi Award - Outstanding Lineman (www.rotarylombardiaward.com) DE Daniel Kegler OT Jason Lenzmeier DE D.J. Renteria OG Claude Terrell

Outland Trophy - Outstanding Interior Lineman (www.fwaa.com) OG Claude Terrell

UNM VS. THE PAC-10: While this is the first meeting between the Lobos and Cougars, New Mexico has a 24-67-2 record against current members of the Pac-10. All but three games (1-1 vs. Oregon State, 0-1 vs. UCLA) have been played against either Arizona or Arizona State. UNM is 18-43-3 against Arizona and has a 5-22-1 ledger versus ASU. The Lobos travel to Oregon State next year.

UNM has lost five straight games to its western neighbors. The last win was against Oregon State in Albuquerque in 1979. The last five games vs. the Pac-10:

December 25, 2002 UCLA 27, UNM 13 Las Vegas Bowl

September 9, 2002 Oregon State 28, UNM 20 Albuquerque

December 27, 1997 Arizona 20, UNM 14 Insight.Com Bowl

September 15, 1990 Arizona 25, UNM 10 Albuquerque

September 19, 1987 Arizona 20, UNM 9 Tucson

UNM VS. RANKED TEAMS: UNM has lost seven straight games to ranked opponents, three times to BYU, twice to Colorado State and once to Texas Tech and North Carolina State. The last win over a ranked foe was November 5, 1994, as Dennis Franchione's Lobos knocked off Utah 23-21 at University Stadium. The Utes came into the game 8-0 and ranked 9th in the nation.

The last time New Mexico defeated a ranked team on the road was October 25, 1975. UNM upset No. 13 Arizona 44-34 in Tucson. The Wildcats were 5-0 going into the game. UNM was 2-4.

October 28, 1995 No. 22 Texas Tech 34, UNM 7 Albuquerque

Septmber 21, 1996 No. 25 BYU 17, UNM 14 Provo

December 6, 1997 No. 20 Colorado State 41, UNM 13 Las Vegas

October 16, 1999 No. 20 BYU 31, UNM 7 Albuquerque

October 13, 2001 No. 17 BYU 24, UNM 20 Albuquerque

August 24, 2002 No. 25 North Carolina State 34, UNM 14 Raleigh, N.C.

November 23, 2002 No. 20 Colorado State 22, UNM 14 Fort Collins, CO

COUGAR TALK: Washington State finished 10-3 in 2002, falling to Oklahoma 34-14 in the Rose Bowl. The Cougars tied USC for first place in the Pac-10 with a 7-1 mark. WSU returns 51 lettermen, including 14 starters, five on offense and seven on defense.

Head coach Bill Doba is in his first season in Pullman, but this is his 15th year on the Cougars' staff. The 1962 Ball State graduate was WSU's defensive coordinator under Mike Price for nine seasons (1994-2002). Doba was named the Cougars' 30th head coach on Dec. 18, 2002.

The Washington State defense features nine senior starters. Every defensive starter has played in at least 11 games in his career at WSU, while nine have seen time in 24 or more contests. Through three games, the Cougars' defense has forced 12 turnovers, six interceptions and six fumbles. They are 3rd in the nation in turnover margin at +2.0. The unit has also recorded 12 sacks (by eight different players) and is yielding just 18.3 points a game.

The starting center for WSU - Mike Shelford - is listed at 6-2 and 269 pounds. The four guards and tackles around him average 6-7 1/4" and 317 pounds.

SE Sammy Moore has just seven receptions this season, but three have been caught for TDs. Moore has also scored on a kickoff return.

The Cougars have TDs via returns of an interception, kickoff and fumble through three games.

The kicking game has been exceptional as well. Punter Kyle Basler has kicked 17 times for a 45.6-yard average, good for 8th nationally. Kicker Drew Dunning is 8-of-9 on field goals. He is 2nd in the nation, averaging 2.67 FGs a game.

BYU RECAP: In a rarity, a BYU team relied on defense and field position to fend off the Lobos 10-7, denying UNM from taking consecutive wins over the Cougars for the first time since 1971.

The Cougars held UNM scoreless and to just 125 yards of total offense in the first half. New Mexico finished with 312 yards.

Of the Lobos' 13 possessions, eight started inside their own 17-yard line. UNM's average starting field position in the second half was its own 15.

BYU got on the board first. An 89-yard run from TB Reynaldo Brathwaite on a busted play put the Cougars in business at the UNM 2. The Lobo defense held and BYU had to settle for a field goal. Early in the second quarter, UNM drove to the Cougar 25 where it faced a 3rd-and-6. An option try resulted in a bad pitch by QB Casey Kelly (Portland, Ore.) and BYU recovered at the 34.

The Cougars made it 10-0 on a 29-yard pass play from QB Matt Berry to Phillip Niu with six minutes left before halftime.

The teams traded punts to start the third quarter before the Lobos finally got a big play. Senior WR Adrian Boyd (Flint, Mich.) took a screen pass from Kelly and weaved his way 66 yards to the BYU 5. DonTrell Moore scored from the 3 to make it a 10-7 game with 1:06 left in the third period.

The Lobos seemed poised to tie or take the lead on their next possession as they marched to the BYU 28. However, UNM lost three yards on a 3rd-and-1 then came up just short on fourth down as the 13-play drive stalled. New Mexico's final two possessions started at its own 7 and 15, respectively. The Cougars took over with 4:47 left and picked up three first downs to seal the victory.

' NOTES FROM BYU: The New Mexico home winning streak was snapped at four games. UNM is now 9-3 in its last 12 games at University Stadium.

The 10 points scored by BYU are the lowest in the series since UNM blanked them 14-0 in 1971.

The two teams totaled the fewest combined points at University Stadium since Oct. 28, 2000, when New Mexico defeated Utah 10-3.

The crowd of 33,606 is the 8th-largest at University Stadium.

Senior LB Daniel Gawronski (Marshville, N.C.) recorded a career-high 10 tackles. His previous best was 4 vs. Texas Tech last year.

Of BYU's 185 first-half yards, 89 came on Brathwaite's first quarter run. The Cougars had 96 yards on their other 32 plays, an average of three yards per play.

Brathwaite tallied 169 yards on 19 carries and became only the 7th player to eclipse 100 yards rushing against the Lobos since the start of the 2000 season, a span of 40 games. It's the most yards rushing against UNM since Utah's Dameon Hunter had 177 in 2001.

Boyd finished the game with three rushes for 17 yards and had five catches for 85 yards. He grabbed a career-long 66-yard reception (previous best was a 31-yard gain at BYU last year).

Despite nursing a tender ankle, sophomore TB DonTrell Moore (Roswell, N.M.) rushed for 104 yards on 21 carries. He has surpassed 100 yards six times in his career, all those coming in the past 10 games. Moore's third quarter touchdown is his 10th touchdown in the last three home games. He has 18 career rushing TDs, tying the late Donald Sellers for 10th place at UNM, while 20 career TDs is tied for 8th place in the UNM record book. Moore now ranks 21st at UNM with 1,385 career rushing yards.

Sophomore RB Adrian Byrd (Missouri City, Texas) had a career-high eight carries for a career-high 26 yards. Byrd came into the game with only 15 carries and 53 yards in his career.

New Mexico failed to gain a turnover for only the 10th time in Rocky Long's 63-game tenure at UNM. The Lobos are 1-9 in those games, the lone win coming against Northern Arizona in 1999. BYU has been error-free against Long's Lobos three times (1999, 2001, 2003).

Senior TE Bryan Penley (Victoria, Texas) recorded 15 knockdown blocks.

OFFENSE NOTES: It's early, but the Lobo offense looks to be improved over last year when it finished 77th in the nation in scoring (24.4 ppg), 102nd in total offense (324.4 ypg) and 104th in passing offense (145.5 ypg).

After three games, UNM ranks 8th nationally in total offense (484.0 ypg), 13th in rushing (235.0 ypg), 22nd in scoring (35.68 ppg) and 40th in passing (249.0 ypg).

Despite being 1-2, the Lobos have outgained each of their first three opponents. UNM had a slim 312-308 advantage over BYU in total offense. New Mexico also has a huge margin in time of possession, averaging 34:41 to the opponents' 25:19.

The Lobos have committed five turnovers (3 turnovers, 2 fumbles) the past two games (four at Texas Tech) and all five were lost on the opponents' side of the field.

Casey Kelly is 46th in the nation in total offense, averaging 223.3 yards a game. He is 44th in pass efficiency with a rating of 132.37. Kelly is 12-10 as a starter at New Mexico, which ties Graham Leigh for 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 4,118 yards passing, 4th in career completions (333), 5th in TD passes (26) and 6th in career completion percentage (53.2%).

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).

The Lobos have produced a 100-yard rusher in each game this season. DonTrell Moore had 109 yards against Texas State and 104 against BYU. D.D. Cox churned out 187 yards at Texas Tech.

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.

Cox is averaging 94 rushing yards a game, good for 3rd in the MWC. Moore is close behind an 83.7 average, 5th-best in the league.

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). Six of Counter's nine career TD passes from Casey Kelly have been 25 yards or more. Counter is averaging an amazing 38.6 yards on his nine career TDs at UNM, including two of more than 80 yards.

DEFENSE NOTES: The Lobos have allowed just one rushing TD through the first three games.

Through three games this year against predominantly passing teams, UNM is allowing 20 points, 77.7 yards rushing, 303.7 yards passing and 381.3 yards total. The Lobos have eight sacks.

Last year, New Mexico was yielding 32 points, 152.3 yards rushing, 240 yards passing and 392.3 total yards in games against North Carolina State, Weber State and Air Force.

WORDS FROM ROCKY: (on Washington State) -- "They are a very impressive football team. They present the classic problem for us defensively. If we put too many guys in coverage then they can run it down our throat. If we stack the line, then they have some very athletic receivers they can find. Football is a game of execution and we are not doing that very well right now. Whether it's assignment errors, turnovers or missed chances, it's all very frustrating. We've had opportunities to win our last two games. We haven't made the plays when we need to, though. It's that simple. Our execution will have to be much better this week to compete with this team."