Lobos Open Conference Action Against Air Force Saturday in University Stadium
Courtesy: New Mexico Athletics  
Release:  09/14/2009
Courtesy: New Mexico Athletics

Sept. 14, 2009

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. --- New Mexico (0-2, 0-0 MWC) begins Mountain West Conference play Saturday, entertaining Air Force (1-1, 0-0 MWC) at University Stadium. Kickoff is 5:34 p.m. The game will be televised nationally in High Definition on CBS College Sports, which is channel 274 on Comcast Cable in Albuquerque and channel 613 on DirecTV. The radio broadcast is also available on Sirius 157.

The Lobos are 0-2 on the season after losing their home opener to Tulsa 44-10. The Golden Hurricane limited UNM to six first downs and 171 yards of total offense, while forcing four turnovers. New Mexico was on the short end of total plays (55 to 80) and time of possession (24:50 to 35:10).

Air Force fell to 1-1 following a 20-13 loss at Minnesota. The Falcons led 10-3 at the start of the fourth quarter.

Last year, the Lobos finished 4-8 overall and 2-6 in the MWC, tying UNLV for 6th place. Air Force was 8-5 in all games, 5-3 in the MWC (4th place). The Falcons lost to Houston 34-28 in the Armed Forces Bowl in Fort Worth. Air Force was picked to finish 4th in the MWC in the 2009 preseason poll.

• New Mexico has not started a season 0-3 since 2000

• UNM has lost 6 straight games, the longest drought since a 6-game slide in 1998-99: the last 4 games of `98 and first 2 games of `99...the Lobos have not lost 7 in a row since 10 straight in 1990-91, the final 6 games of 1990 and first 4 games of 1991...the Lobos have also dropped 5 in a row on the road

• The Lobos' offensive struggles mirror the current 6-game losing streak...UNM has not registered an offensive TD in more than 14 quarters, since Rodney Ferguson scored on a 5-yard run with 11:47 left in the 2nd quarter at UNLV on Nov. 8, 2008...since beating San Diego State 70-7 last year in Albuquerque, UNM has averaged just 9.8 points and 286.3 yards of offense the past 6 games

• The 16 points scored is the fewest by New Mexico in the first 2 games of the season since posting 14 in 1955: a 14-7 win over New Mexico State and a 25-0 loss at Colorado State

• The Lobos have a 4-game losing streak in MWC games, the longest since the league formed in 1999...it's the longest since 1998 when UNM lost its last 4 games in the Western Athletic Conference...the last 5-game skid in conference play was the final 6 games of 1990

• New Mexico is 3-7 in MWC openers, 2-4 at home and 1-3 on the road...the record is also 3-7 in MWC home openers

• 27th meeting and the Falcons have a 16-10 lead
• Last year: 23-10 Air Force at the Academy
• 2007 in ABQ: UNM won 34-31 to halt a 3-game series losing streak
• Lately: Falcons have won 4 of the past 5
• Tied 5-5 in MWC competition
• Albuquerque: Tied 7-7, but Lobos have won 4 of last 5
• Team with the time of possession advantage has won 9 of the past 10
• The last 2 games b/w the 2 teams have been played on Thursday
• UNM LB Clint McPeek had a career-high 15 tackles last year

AIR FORCE HEAD COACH TROY CALHOUN - Former cadet Troy Calhoun (Air Force `89) is 18-10 in his 3rd year as a collegiate head coach. He is 1-1 against the Lobos.

LAST YEAR AT THE ACADEMY - The Air Force defense was frazzled and fatigued -- not that safety Aaron Kirchoff minded rumbling 96 yards on a fumble return that helped the Falcons beat New Mexico 23-10.

The Lobos forced three first-quarter turnovers and were about to jump out to a 17-0 lead when Kirchoff scooped up quarterback Brad Gruner's fumble at the Falcons 4 and sped down the Lobos' sideline for the second-longest fumble return in school history, cutting New Mexico's lead to 10-7 at the end of the 1st quarter.

Nobody was more relieved than Falcons freshman quarterback Tim Jefferson, who had fumbled away the ball and thrown an interception on consecutive snaps that led to 10 Lobos points and watched fullback Ryan Southworth cough it up at midfield moments before Kirchoff's game-saver on the final play of the first quarter.

Ryan Harrison's 31-yard field goal just before halftime tied it at 10, and the Falcons took the lead for good early in the third quarter following Glover Quin's fumbled kickoff. Running a play that was installed just this week, Jefferson faked a keeper, pulled up and tossed a 1-yard touchdown pass over the pile to tight end Travis Dekker.

The Lobos, who twice were stuffed on 4th-and-1 inside the Air Force 10-yard line, converted the Falcons' first two turnovers into a 2-yard TD by Ferguson and a 45-yard field goal by James Aho.

• Air Force had 1 pass completion in 3 attempts, good for 1 yard and it went for a TD...it's the fewest passing yards by a Lobo opponent since Rice had 0 in 1997

• Entering the game, New Mexico had not allowed any points off turnovers in its previous 4 games; that changed when Air Force returned a fumble 96 yards for a touchdown at the end of the 1st quarter...the Falcons scored 17 points following 4 Lobo turnovers

• New Mexico entered the red zone 4 times and scored just once...the results were a TD, a fumble that Air Force returned 96 yards for a TD and twice failing to convert on 4th and 1, one time at the Falcons' 9, and the other at the 10

• UNM held Air Force to 228 yards of total offense - 164 yards below its average - and caused 3 turnovers...UNM scored 10 points after turnovers

• The Lobos ran 22 plays for 149 yards in the 1st quarter; the last 3 quarters, UNM only had 154 yards on 43 plays

2007 IN ALBUQUERQUE - Rodney Ferguson ran for 146 yards and John Sullivan kicked four field goals, leading New Mexico to a 34-31 victory. The Lobos capitalized on five lost fumbles by the Falcons - three in the fourth quarter.

Sullivan set a school record by hitting his 18th straight field goal, a 36-yarder that put New Mexico ahead 34-31 with 10:10 remaining.

The Falcons got a big break when Sullivan finally missed, sailing wide right on a 32-yard try with 2:18 remaining. But Air Force's Mark Root fumbled and Herbert Felder recovered for the Lobos, who ran out the clock.

Air Force standout Chad Hall had 97 yards rushing on 21 carries and had 247 total yards. Sullivan, meanwhile, connected from 43, 20, 32 and 36 yards to break the school mark of 16 consecutive field goals by Vladimir Borombozin from 2000-01.

A key swing came in the second quarter when New Mexico scored 11 points in 15 seconds. Sullivan's 20-yarder cut Air Force's lead to 21-13, and Tyson Ditmore recovered Ty Paffett's fumble on the ensuing kickoff at the 12. On the next play, Donovan Porterie threw a 12-yard TD strike to TE Chris Mark, then found Mark on the successful 2-point conversion to tie it at 21 late in the first half.

Ferguson scored on a 3-yard plunge on fourth-and-1, putting New Mexico ahead 28-24 in the third. It was set up when Air Force's Garrett Rybak had a New Mexico punt bounce off his leg and Ian Clark recovered for the Lobos. The Falcons answered with a 65-yard drive, capped by an 8-yard TD run by Jim Ollis to give Air Force a 31-28 lead late in the third.

Head coach Mike Locksley has assembled a coaching staff that possesses a wealth of accomplishments. A look at the numbers, including graduate assistants, entering the 2009 season:

128 - Years of collegiate and/or professional coaching experience: Darrell Dickey 24, Doug Mallory 21, Rubin Carter 20, George Barlow 18, Mike Locksley 17, Toby Neinas 14, Cheston Blackshear 6, J.B. Gerald 4, Mike Degory 2, Tee Martin 1, Mike Mendenhall 1.

25 - Bowl games coached: Mike Locksley 6, Doug Mallory 6, Darrell Dickey 5, Cheston Blackshear 3, J.B. Gerald 3, Toby Neinas 1, Mike Degory 1.

19 - Bowl games as a player: Cheston Blackshear 4 (Florida), Mike Degory 4 (Florida), Tee Martin 4 (Tennessee), Doug Mallory 4 (Michigan), Aaron Moorehead 2 (Illinois), Darrell Dickey 1 (Kansas State).

3 - Super Bowl appearances as a player: Rubin Carter 2 (Denver), Aaron Moorehead 1 (Indianapolis).

2 - National championships as a player: Cheston Blackshear 1 (Florida 1996) and Tee Martin 1 (Tennessee 1998).

2 - Former college head coaches on staff: Darrell Dickey (North Texas) and Rubin Carter (Florida A&M).

1 - BCS national championship as a coach: Doug Mallory (LSU 2007).

2009 PERSONNEL PICTURE - The Lobos return 41 lettermen, including 11 position starters, eight on offense and three on defense. UNM returns 21 lettermen on offense, 17 on defense and three specialists.

TULSA REVIEW - G.J. Kinne threw for 310 yards and four touchdowns to help Tulsa defeat New Mexico 44-10. The Golden Hurricane (2-0) took advantage of early mistakes by the Lobos, then got their offense in high gear in the second half.

Kinne threw two touchdown passes to Slick Shelley and one each to Damaris Johnson and Jamad Williams before being removed in the fourth quarter. Tulsa scored in the first following a fumble by Lobos punt returner Frankie Solomon at the 16. Four plays later, Charles Clay went over the middle from the 1-yard line five minutes into the game.

The Golden Hurricane were unable to find the end zone again until Kinne found Johnson from 2 yards out with 38 seconds remaining in the first half.

The Lobos got their first touchdown of the season in the fourth when linebacker Tray Hardaway returned a fumble 92 yards.

• New Mexico had 81 yards of total offense in the 1st quarter, but just 90 the rest of the game...the Lobos (171 yards) were held under 200 yards of total offense for the first time since gaining 186 in last year's home and season-opener vs. TCU

Senior LB Tray Hardaway
• 8 tackles and he returned a fumble 92 yards for a TD in the 4th quarter
• the last Lobo to return a fumble for a score was DE Jaymar Latchison (28 yards) last year against San Diego State
• the longest fumble return in UNM history is 97 yards by Pete McDavid vs. Northern Arizona in 1936

Sophomore K James Aho
• made his only FG attempt, connecting from 48 yards, which tied a career-high for the 2nd straight game
• 21-27 FGs in 14 career games at New Mexico

Sophomore DE Jaymar Latchison
• Career-high 2.0 sacks and forced a fumble

Sophomore DE Johnathan Rainey
• 4 tackles, another sack and 2.0 tackles for loss
• 11 tackles, 3.0 sacks and 4.0 tackles for loss in 2 games, both off the bench

Sophomore MLB Carmen Messina
• Career-high 14 tackles, giving him 23 in the first two games...had 35 in 12 games last year

Senior DT Kendall Briscoe
• Career-high 3.0 tackles for loss (4 tackles total)...sack and forced the fumble that resulted in the Lobos only TD

Senior FS Frankie Baca
• Career-high 7 tackles - all solo - in his first career start (40 career games)

Junior WR Nick Wilhelm
• Walk-on led the team with a career-high 3 catches for 33 yards...4 grabs for 46 yards in his first season of regular gameday action

Junior OT Maurice Mears
• Made his first career start as a Lobo at right tackle in place of injured Ivan Hernandez