Nov. 6, 2010
LOBOS 34, WYOMING 31
By Richard Stevens - Senior Writer/GoLobos.com
It was a 34-31 New Mexico Lobos win that was a part of almost everything.
It was part the James Aho field goal that split the posts from 38 yards with no time showing on the University Stadium clock that ended UNM's winless season.
It was part guts, part Stump Godfrey, part Lucas Reed, part band-aid, part limp, part Bubba Forrest, part Carmen Messina, part gift-wrapped and part simply just snatched away by a whole pack of determined Lobos, who refused to give up what Wyoming refused to take.
You look at the stats in this Mountain West Conference beauty and it almost doesn't make sense. The Cowboys totaled 536 yards on offense and racked up an amazing 392 yards on the ground. The `Pokes averaged 9.4 yards per play and lost a game turning the 0-8 Lobos into the 1-8 Lobos.
"This win shows the character of this team," said Lobo Coach Mike Locksley after his second win as a Lobo. "This is one of those character wins you can build a program around." UNM is 1-4 in MWC play. Wyoming owns the MWC basement with a 0-6 league stain.
For sure, there was character from the Lobos. There were several times the Cowboys seem about to deliver a knockout punch and the Lobos found some way to come back. Turnovers by the Cowboys/takeaways by the Lobos were one big reason.
The Cowboys had three turnovers inside the UNM red zone, including one fumble as Cowboy Robert Herron was about to step into the Lobo end zone. "They were at critical spots (on the field)," said Locksley.
Said Messina: "One thing the defense needs to improve on is stopping them before they get into the red zone."
The Lobos made huge plays on defense and huge plays on offense. The play of true freshman quarterback Stump Godfrey was huge, too. "He stepped up," said Reed,who pulled in two touchdowns from his young quarterback.
Godfrey rarely looked like a rookie to D-I ball receiving his first start. He went 16-of-20 through the air for 211 yards and two touchdowns against no picks. He carried the ball 23 times - more than any other back - for 69 yards.
"I think Stump was prepared to be a starter," said Locksley, who also said he would have turned to freshman Tarean Austin before throwing the hobbled B.R. Holbrook back onto the field to face possible damage.
Here's another stat that jumps out at you, suggesting maybe this score somehow got turned around by UNM scorekeepers: Wyoming had three 100-yard rushers. Alvester Alexander with 151 yards, Herron with 122 yards and quarterback Austyn Carta-Samuels with 119 yards.
Amazingly, the Cowboys averaged 8.7 yards per carry on the ground.
This easily could have been a game the Lobos could have lost. They were down 21-7 in the second quarter, but scratched into a 21-14 gap at halftime.
That score just before the half was crucial. The Cowboys had just scored on a 94-yard scamper by Alexander with 4:42 to play. UNM, the team that took punch after punch from Colorado State, but didn't punch back, decided to punch back against Wyoming.
"After the performance last week, I was glad to see these guys respond," said Locksley. "That' what I expect out of these guys. They fought to the end in a very tough ball game."
Godfrey marched the Lobos from the UNM 24-yard line into the Cowboys' end zone, capping the march with a 4-yard pass to Lucas Reed, who went up high to pull down the one-handed score.
"To answer like that is something we hadn't done," said Locksley. "That was a big drive. We had to have it. I thought we executed at a high efficiency."
The Cowboys decided to punch back, too. They had a first down on the UNM 16-yard line in the closing seconds of the half, when UNM's Bubba Forrest picked off a poorly thrown pass by Carta-Samuels. It was a hint of things to come.
Wyoming took the opening kickoff of the second half and used a 68-yard run by Herron to set up the Cowboy offense on the UNM two-yard line. It appeared Herron would go all the way, but Forrest came over to make the stop. Herron, obviously winded, got the call on the next play and was stripped of the ball by Joe Stoner, who also recovered the loose ball.
"This game is all about momentum," said Messina.
That strip by Stoner was huge.
"The biggest thing is we banded together for a cause, which is to send our seniors out the best way we can," said Locksley.
The Lobos still have three games left to play: at Air Force, at Brigham Young and at TCU, clearly one of the top three teams in the nation. The Lobos' road to any more wins in 2010 definitely gets tougher.
And it's possible the walking-wounded Lobos might be patched together with masking tape and spit come Saturday's game at Air Force. "We are a banged up team," said Locksley.
The Lobos obviously had one of their better offensive games and much of that credit has to go to the freshman Godfrey, who ran an offense with no turnovers while racking up 430 total yards. UNM had 219 yards on the ground and won the time of possession battle 37:13 to 22:47.
UNM also converted 12 of 19 third-down situations. Reed had another mammoth day from his tight end position hauling down seven passes for 100 yards. Kasey Carrier ran for 97 yards on 13 carries and James Wright had 65 yards on 19 totes. The game had a similar ending to UNM's only win in 2009 -- a win over CSU produced by a last-second Aho field goal.
"We had the same situation that we had last year," said UNM's Messina. "We come down and win by a field goal. It's great to rush on the field with our fans. You can't ask for anything better than that. It's like a party in there (locker room). It's awesome."