STEVENS: Lobos lose opener 41-6 at Texas A&M
Courtesy: New Mexico Athletics  
Release:  09/05/2009
Courtesy: New Mexico Athletics

Sept. 5, 2009

Lobo Football
Saturday: Texas A&M 41, Lobos 6
Up Next: Tulsa at Lobos
When/Where: 6 p.m. Sept. 12, University Stadium

By Richard Stevens -- Senior Writer/GoLobos.com

COLLEGE STATION, Texas -- A loss to the Texas A&M Aggies in tradition-rich Kyle Field doesn't go down as a surprise for Mike Locksley's young Lobos. There was no question this rugged 2009 schedule would take a hard bite or two out of the rebuilding University of New Mexico Lobos.

But Locksley, UNM's first-year coach, could not have been happy with a Lobo offense that failed to score a touchdown and a Lobo defense that gave up 41 points and 606 total yards to an A&M team bitten by 14 penalties for 123 yards. UNM lost 41-6 Saturday night.

So, what do you do when you get stung by 35 points. You go back to the drawing board and get to work. Especially since the Lobos' next opponent is a Tulsa team that pounded UNM by 42 points in 2008, racking up 606 total yards.

The 0-1 Lobos return to University Stadium this coming Saturday for a 6 p.m. kickoff with Tulsa, which beat UNM 56-14 last September in Oklahoma.

The only scoring weapon the Lobos took with them to College Station that came up with any points was the toe of sophomore kicker James Aho, who banged in field goals of 19 and 48 yards.

The Lobos actually had a chance to score a TD in the final minutes, but a fumble by Lobo quarterback Donovan Porterie on the A&M 11-yard line ended that UNM threat with 3:32 to play. The Aggies ran out the clock to seal the 41-6 victory.

Porterie had decent stats in the UNM opener going 29-of-40 for 210 yards with no interceptions and no TDs.

One problem for Porterie -- and the UNM offense -- was a running game that netted only 21 yards. UNM freshman Demond Dennis had 23 yards on 10 carries and freshman A.J. Butler added 22 yards on three totes. Porterie had a minus 30 yards, getting sacked five times.

The Lobos totaled only 231 yards in total offense, with Porterie getting 210 via the pass.

"The effort was there," said Locksley. "We did get worn down. We need to finish with scores and touchdowns. We need to sustain some drives and get off the field (on defense). It's never as bad as you think or as good as you think."

"Our biggest growth should be between Game One and Game Two. I told them there weren't many things we did wrong that can't be corrected."

A&M quarterback Jerrod Johnson countered with 349 yards and two TDS, going 31-of-41 through the air and running 13 times for 57 yards and one TD. Jeff Fuller had ten grabs for 111 yards and nine other A&M receivers combined to haul down 22 passes. The Aggies got 93 yards on 11 carries from their freshman sensation, Christine Michael.

The Aggies might have surprised the Lobos with a hurry-up, no-huddle attack, but UNM really had no answer for the balanced Aggie attack, especially Johnson. The Lobos quickly worked themselves into a 20-0 hole and never worked their way out. The loss was the tenth straight for a UNM team against a Texas foe on Texas soil.

First Quarter The Lobos won the coin toss and opened on offense. UNM got a single first down, but then fizzled and punted the ball away. The Aggies came back and marched behind junior quarterback Jerrod Johnson.

A 42-yard pass from Johnson to Uzoma Nwachukwu placed the Aggies in sweet position on the UNM 18-yard line. The Aggies added two more yards off a run before Johnson escaped from a collapsing pocket and scrambled the final 16 yards into the Lobo endzone. The Aggies converted the boot and held a quick 7-0 lead at the 9:52 mark of the first quarter.

The Lobos' second possession ended the same way -- a punt. The Aggies returned the favor, punting the ball to UNM's Ian Clark, who got tackled on the spot. Porterie got sacked on the first play, placing the Lobos in a quick hole and looking at a second-and-17. UNM failed to scratch out of the hole and punted the ball back to the Aggies. Texas A&M started at its 33-yard line with 5:49 to go in the first quarter.

"Is it just me or does UNM look a little flustered out there," said Kole McKamey, the color commentator for the Lobo Radio Network.

Johnson got the Aggies moving forward by scrambling out of another collapsing pocket and rambling to A&M's 46-yards. The Aggie's drive was killed by their second holding call of the game followed by a 5-yard penalty for an illegal formation. A&M punted.

UNM's third drive of the game started at the Lobos' 33-yard line. A chop block call on UNM pushed the Lobos back to their 20. A hard A&M rush sacked Porterie at the 15-yard line. UNM, looking at a 4th-and-28, again punted. The quarter ended with the 7-0 score favoring the team from College Station.

The Lobos' no-huddle offense did not distinguish itself in the first 15 minutes. UNM had 35 yards passing and a negative four yards rushing.

Second Quarter

The Aggies opened the quarter with a punt and pinned UNM at its 8-yard line. The Lobos ran the ball twice and Porterie missed his target forcing UNM's Adam Miller to punt out of the endzone.

Johnson quickly went to the air and three completions set up the Aggies on the UNM 8-yard line. UNM did a good job thwarting A&M in the red zone and got a touchdown-saving tackle from Frankie Baca. The Aggies salvaged a 22-yard field goal off the toe of Randy Bullock and grabbed a 10-0 lead with 9:40 to play. At that point, Johnson was 10-of-15 passing for 119 yards.

The Lobos came back strong and marched. A nice drive was slowed by two incomplete Porterie passes followed by a Porterie sack. UNM punted the ball into the endzone, setting up A&M at the 20-yard line with 6:28 to play. The Aggies went to the legs of freshman Christine Michael to get 56 yards on three carries. A&M's Cyrus Gray put the finishing touch on the drive, going 13 yards for the TD.

The Aggies sat on a 17-0 lead with 4:44 to play in the half. It got worse for the Lobos. UNM's Dennis committed his first fumble at the D-I level and A&M recovered. The Aggies were looking for a knockout punch with the ball on the UNM's 28-yard line. An intentional grounding call on Johnson helped the Lobos' avoid the KO punch, but the Aggies' Bullock did punch in a 34-yard field goal to form a 20-0 A&M lead.

The Lobos salvaged some momentum, some confidence and, most importantly, three points with a nice drive in the final 1:56. Porterie completed passes to Dennis, Roland Bruno and Ty Kirk before Dennis was stopped at the 1-yard line on third down with 18 ticks to go. Sophomore James Aho popped in a 19-yard field goal to put the Lobos on the board at 20-3. UNM went into the halftime break down by 17.

UNM had 124 yards passing and two yards on the run in the first half.

Johnson ended the half going 15-of-21 from 159 yards. Porterie went 19-of-26 for 124 yards. He was sacked three times. Dennis had 19 yards on nine carries and pulled down five passes for 29 yards. Michael had 58 yards on five carries for the Aggies and teammate Jeff Fuller had five grabs for 48 yards.

Third Quarter

The Aggies might have lost a knockout punch in the second quarter, but they hit the Lobos on the chin quickly to open the second half. The A&M's hurry-up, no-huddle offense seemed to catch the Lobos on their heels.

The Aggies started a drive on their 14-yard line and ended it 12 plays later in the UNM endzone. Michael went the final two yards to hand his Aggies a fat 27-3 lead. "They look a little tired," McKamey said of the UNM defense. "At some point, you would think UNM would get up to the line a little quicker and get ready."

The Lobos came back with a short drive that started on their 25-yard line and ended on the A&M 31-yard line. Aho jogged out and banged in a 48-yard field goal to pull UNM to 27-6 with 6:46 to play in the third.

The Lobos had a good chance to shift the field position war in their favor. The Aggies started a drive on their 12-yard line. However, A&M drove out of that hole, burned more than six minutes off the clock, survived two holding penalites, and still reached the UNM endzone. Johnson ended this drive with a 7-yard TD pass to Fuller. A&M converted and rolled into a 34-6 lead, a score that closed that quarter.

Fourth Quarter

The Lobos first drive of the final quarter ended thanks to a clipping penalty and a sack of Porterie. UNM punted the ball away at the 12:28 mark to an A&M team looking to burn time off the game clock while scratching out some first downs.

The Aggies did more than burn the clock. They also burned the Lobos' secondary for a 44-yard TD pass from Johnson to Kenric McNeal. Texas A&M was up 41-6 with 9:14 to play. The Lobos did mount a scoring challenge in the final minutes, but Porterie fumbled and A&M recovered the loose ball.