Lobos Host Aztecs for 80th Homecoming Game
Courtesy: New Mexico Athletics  
Release:  10/18/2004
Courtesy: New Mexico Athletics

Oct. 18, 2004

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The University of New Mexico seeks consecutive wins for the first time this season as San Diego State comes to town Saturday for UNM's 80th homecoming game. The Lobos and Aztecs kick off at 4:37 p.m., Mountain Time from University Stadium. The game will be televised live by SportsWest with local availability provided by KRQE-TV in Albuquerque. It's also part of the ESPN GamePlan package.

The Lobos improved to 3-4 overall and 1-2 in the Mountain West Conference with a 24-20 victory last week at UNLV, halting a two-game losing streak in the process. UNM trailed 17-7 five minutes into the second period. New Mexico is 3-4 after seven games for the sixth consecutive season. The past three years, however, UNM has played well enough in late October and November to become bowl eligible with invitations coming from the Las Vegas Bowl in 2002 and `03.

San Diego State is 2-4 in all games and 0-2 in the league after a tough 21-17 home loss to Colorado State. The Aztecs, who held CSU to 196 total yards, have dropped three in a row and are winless in three road games this season. SDSU has the same record as UNM did going into last week's tilt at UNLV.

Mountain West Conference road teams have a 6-4 record after 10 league games.

Both UNM and SDSU attempted to hold onto leads in the closing minutes of their respective games last week. The Lobos prevailed by causing their sixth turnover with a minute left in the 24-20 triumph at UNLV. San Diego State had the ball and a 17-14 lead over Colorado State with less than two minutes remaining, but the Aztecs fumbled at their own 10-yard line, allowing the Rams to punch in the winning score with just 1:10 left.

A quick look at the stats shows a run-first Lobo team facing the league's top run-stopper in San Diego State. With QB Kole McKamey and TB DonTrell Moore healthy for the first time in four games, New Mexico is coming off a 284-yard rushing day at UNLV. UNM is now averaging 174.6 yards a game on the ground with Moore churning for 101.2 in six games. The Aztecs are allowing just 103 rushing yards a game to rank No. 17 nationallly. SDSU has been even better in two MWC games as Wyoming and Colorado State - both passing squads - were stifled to a combined 135 yards. UNM is last in the conference and 107th overall in total offense at 292.1 yards a game. San Diego State is allowing a stingy 325 yards a game, but only 230 in its first two MWC contests. The Aztecs are also among the nation's leaders in pass efficiency defense with a rating of 102.2. The Lobos' pass efficiency offense rating of 75.7 ranks 116th out of 117 schools.

On the other side of the ball, SDSU is averaging 405.2 yards of offense, including 273 yards a game through the air, 2nd in the league and 16th in the NCAA. All those yards have not been turned into points, though, as the Aztecs are averaging just 20.5 points a game and rank last in the loop in 3rd-down conversions at 28 percent (28-100). The Lobos are allowing 20.4 points and 347.9 total yards a game. Both teams have registered 18 sacks, trailing only BYU's 22.

After gaining six turnovers at UNLV, the Lobos now lead the conference and rank 17th in the nation in turnover margin at +1.0 for the year.

New Mexico has a 39-37-3 record in homecoming games since the first one was played in 1925. UNM has been successful of late, winning five straight and 9 of 11 since 1993. San Diego State has been the homecoming opponent twice and has spoiled the festivities both times: 35-7 in 1979 and 49-21 in 1992.

Saturday's game pits head coaches who are serving their alma maters. Rocky Long was a three-year starter at quarterback and graduated from New Mexico in 1974. Tom Craft received his diploma from San Diego State in 1977.

GAME SPONORS / PROMOTIONS - Game sponsors include Bank of Albuquerque, COMCAST, 107.9 Big Country and 94 Rock.

In addition to the normal homecoming coronation activities, there will be a postgame fireworks show. The first 1,200 fans will receive a Brian Urlacher bobblehead courtesy of Bank of Albuquerque, and the UNM men's and women's basketball teams will be recognized during the first quarter break.

COACH LONG SAYS - (on UNLV) -- "That was a game exactly like I thought it would be with all the momentum shifts. We caused a fumble at the end of the game that gave us the win. We have speed on defense and in the first half we were running past the toss sweep. In the second half we played it much better. That forced them to go to other things. Our defense did some things to get our offense moving. One of the key plays in the game was after the roughing the kicker penalty, Gabriel Fulbright got a pick in the end zone to keep the game close. Our offense did a much better job and I liked the way we mixed it up."

(on San Diego State) -- "They are in nearly the exact same situation as we were at this time last week: 2-4 overall, 0-2 in the league and coming off a tough loss. They're a talented team and I know they will come in here with a lot of energy. Utah certainly appears to be the best team in the league, but after that we are all very even. Most of the games have been decided by a touchdown or less. We all have a couple of players that can impact the game. As usual when teams are evenly matched, turnovers usually play a big part in the outcome."

LONG APPROACHING RECORD FOR GAMES COACHED - Head coach Rocky Long is in his seventh season at his alma mater and is now third on the school's all-time win list at 36-44.

In terms of total seasons, only Roy Johnson (11) and Bill Weeks (8) have been at UNM for more time than Long. However, with 80 games spent on the sidelines, Long will become the school's career leader in games coached when the Lobos visit BYU on Nov. 13. That will be Long's 83rd game at UNM, surpassing Weeks' total of 82 from 1960-67.

UNM VS. SAN DIEGO STATE - New Mexico and San Diego State meet for the 31st time. SDSU leads 20-10, although the Lobos have won 3 straight for the first time since the first three games of the series (1953-56). UNM has a 4-1 lead in MWC games, including last year's 30-7 victory at San Diego.

The Aztecs have a 10-4 lead in Albuquerque, including an 8-game winning streak from 1986-2000. SDSU has a 10-6 advantage in San Diego, however, UNM has won 4 in a row at Qualcomm Stadium after losing 7 straight between 1984-95.

The Lobos' 15-8 victory two years ago in Albuquerque snapped a six-game winning streak by the visiting team. Lobo LB Billy Strother knocked down a pass on 4th-and-2 from the Aztec 6 to secure the win.

The average margin of victory in the last six games is a mere 7 points, which includes UNM's 23-point win last year. The Lobos have held SDSU to averages of 11.8 points and 245 yards of offense in the last four games. However, UNM has not been much better against the Aztec defense, averaging only 267.4 yards in the past five contests.

Aztecs' secondary and special teams coach Fred Bleil was UNM's defensive coordinator under Dennis Franchione from 1992-95

LAST YEAR AT SAN DIEGO STATE - New Mexico tied a school record by intercepting five passes - three by Gabriel Fulbright in the end zone - and Billy Strother returned a blocked punt for a TD in the 30-7 triumph. The 23-point margin is the Lobos' largest in San Diego. Turnovers and special teams play led directly to 20 of UNM's points.

The Aztecs entered the Lobo red zone six times and came away with just one TD. The other results were three interceptions, a missed field and a turnover on downs.

San Diego State marched inside the Lobo 10 on its opening drive of the game, but missed a 23-yard FG. A Brandon Ratcliff interception put UNM in great shape at the SDSU 19 and DonTrell Moore scored five plays later from the 2 and a 7-0 lead.

The Aztecs got to the Lobo 6 on their next drive, but Fulbright ended the threat with his first interception on a slant route.

The first quarter stats showed the Lobos with one first down and just 23 yards of offense while the Aztecs produced seven first downs and 172 total yards.

In the second quarter, Hank Baskett blocked Seth Santoro's punt. Strother picked up the loose ball and scored from the 14 to give UNM a 14-0 lead. The Aztecs answered with their only score of the night, going 64 yards in 10 plays. The Lobos got a big lift right before halftime. With less than a minute remaining in the half, Ratcliff returned a pooch kickoff to the 44 then QB Casey Kelly connected with WR Dwight Counter on a 23-yard pass. That set up a 48-yard FG by K Wes Zunker to give UNM a 17-7 lead at the break. Statistically, SDSU had a huge advantage at halftime with 274 yards of total offense to UNM's 103. The Lobos only had three first downs in the first half.

UNM really put it away on the opening series of the second half, mounting a 73-yard drive that ended in Moore's 3-yard run. The key play was Moore's 45-yard run on a 2nd-and-24 from the Lobo 13. He looked to be stopped twice on the play, but kept churning. UNM added two more FGs by Zunker and forced four more turnovers.

After having the ball for just 10:19 of the first half, UNM controlled the clock for 19:50 after halftime. The Lobos generated 223 yards of offense in the third and fourth quarters, while holding SDSU to just 119.

The three interceptions by Fulbright are the most by a Lobo since Sharay Fields set the single-game record of four against New Mexico State in 1979. The only other Lobos with three picks in a game are Chuck Roberts vs. Montana in 1959, Eddie Stokes vs. Montana in 1963 and Jay Morrison vs. San Jose State in 1969. Fulbright also added a season-high six tackles.

UNM forced six turnovers (5 interceptions, 1 fumble) against San Diego State, the most since Hawaii lost six fumbles in 1994.

TWO YEARS AGO IN ALBUQUERQUE - Playing their third consecutive heart-stopper, the Lobos held off San Diego State 15-8. A safety with 3:22 left in the final period provided New Mexico with the eventual seven-point margin, but it was far from over. The Aztecs completed a 39-yard pass to the UNM 13 with just over one minute to go. An 11-yard completion on 3rd-and-14 advanced the ball to the 6. With the Aztecs out of timeouts and the game clock winding down, Adam Hall's final pass attempt was batted away by Lobo LB Billy Strother, preserving the victory with just seven seconds remaining.

With swirling winds gusting to more than 40 mph, both teams were unable to do much on offense. The normally potent Aztecs passing game was held to 153 yards, or 180 yards below their season average. SDSU finished with just 183 yards of total offense, however, UNM was not much better, gaining only 237.

San Diego State held an 8-7 lead until early in the fourth quarter. Following a sack and forced fumble by S Terrell Golden that was recovered by fellow S Brandon Ratcliff, the Lobos marched 64 yards in 10 plays, capped by RB DonTrell Moore's 1-yard plunge. The big plays on the drive were a 13-yard run by WR Adrian Boyd on 3rd-and-4 and a 25-yard screen pass from QB Casey Kelly to TE Bryan Penley that put UNM 1st-and-goal at the 3.

After a Tyler Gaus punt backed SDSU up to its own 6, Ratcliff and Strother combined to sack Hall in the end zone. The ball squirted out of the back of the end zone for the safety and a 15-8 advantage.

The Lobos beat San Diego State in Albuquerque for the first time since 1983. The Aztecs had won eight straight at University Stadium. It also marked the first time since 1995 that the road team did not win.

The Lobo defense was spectacular considering San Diego State started four drives inside UNM territory (36, 42, 38 and 46-yard lines) and got just two field goals in the process. UNM stopped the Aztecs three times on 4th down and limited SDSU to just 2 of 15 conversions on 3rd down.

AZTEC NOTES - San Diego State was 6-6 last year and tied for 4th in the MWC at 3-4. Head coach Tom Craft (San Diego State `77) is 12-19 in his third year at his alma mater. Craft is 0-2 against the Lobos.

Senior LB Kirk Morrison is a two-time all-conference honoree and defending MWC defensive player of the year. Recently named a semifinalist for the Butkus Award, Morrison was named the league's defensive player of the week in the 21-17 loss to Colorado State. He recorded 14 tackles including eight solo, as San Diego State limited the Rams to a season-low 196 yards of total offense. Morrison also had two tackles for loss, forced a fumble and recovered a fumble. He leads the MWC in tackles, averaging 10.3 a game.

Junior WR Jeff Webb leads the conference and is 8th nationally in receiving, averaging 7.3 receptions a game (43 catches in 6 games). Webb has caught at least one pass in his last 16 games and three or more in his last 11.

UNLV REVIEW - With the 24-20 win at UNLV, the Lobos have won 6 of their past 8 MWC road games and 8 of 11...they also avoided an 0-3 conference start for the first time since 1998, the last year of the WAC...UNM is now 2-3 against UNLV in Las Vegas, winning the past 2

After averaging 208 yards of offense in its previous two games, UNM finished with 376 yards, 194 in the first half...New Mexico grounded out 284 rushing yards and is now 18-3 under Rocky Long when rushing for more than 225 yards

Once again, the Lobo defense had a big second half, allowing just 3 points and 138 total yards, including 29 yards rushing...over the past 6 games opponents have averaged just 4.3 points (4 FGs, 2 TDs), 49.3 yards rushing and 137.3 total yards after halftime

The Lobos overcame a 17-10 halftime deficit to notch their first win in four tries this season when trailing after two quarters...UNM shut the door on its 24-17 third-quarter lead, however, winning for the 17th time in its last 18 games when leading after three quarters...the only loss in that span was 21-17 in this year's opener vs. Washington State (a 14-7 lead)

UNM forced 6 turnovers, recording 2 interceptions in the 1st half and recovering 4 fumbles in the 2nd half, while playing turnover-free itself...UNM scored 17 points following the Rebel errors...the 4 fumbles lost are the most by a Lobo opponent since San Diego State had 4 in the Lobos' 24-21 road victory in 1999...the 6 giveaways tie for the most turnovers by a UNM foe since Rocky Long became head coach in 1998...the Aztecs gave the ball away 6 times in the Lobos' 30-7 road win last year...UNM, meanwhile, did not have any errors for the first time in 10 games, since last year's 24-12 win over Air Force...the Lobos had 15 turnovers (10 int/5 fumbles) in the eight games in between...New Mexico is 27-9 under Rocky Long when committing fewer turnovers than its opponents and has won 10 of its last 11 when winning the turnover battle...the Lobos are 11-1 all-time under Long when it does not commit a turnover versus a 1-10 mark when it does not cause a turnover

Junior LB Mike Mohoric recorded 6 tackles, including a pair of sacks that caused fumbles recovered by the Lobos...his first hit on Rebels QB Shane Steichen came after UNLV had marched to the UNM 48 and the score tied at 17...redshirt freshman walk-on DE Stephen Hutchison pounced on the loose ball and the Lobos scored the eventual game-winning TD five plays later...Mohoric's second sack preserved the victory...trailing 24-20, UNLV moved from its own 6 to the Lobo 41 with just over a minute remaining...he jarred the ball loose from QB Kurt Nantkes and LB Fola Fashola covered it...UNM was able to run out the clock

Redshirt freshman WR Marcus Smith's 65-yard TD run in the third quarter was the longest rush by New Mexico in 12 games (Adrian Byrd 78-yard non-scoring rush last year at Utah) and the longest scoring jaunt since third-string QB Justin Millea went 73 yards for a score in the third quarter at UNLV in 2002...Smith was a standout tailback at Morse High School in San Diego before moving to receiver midway through the 2003 season...he also returned 2 kickoffs for 41 yards and had a tackle on a punt return

Junior CB Gabriel Fulbright recorded a pair of interceptions, the second multiple INT game of his career...he now has three on the season...Fulbright stepped in front of Rebel WR Earvin Johnson on the first UNLV drive of the game, which set up the Lobos' opening TD drive of 50 yards...he also grabbed a pass intended for Johnson in the endzone late in the 2nd quarter that prevented the Rebels from adding to their 17-7 lead...Fulbright had a career-high 3 interceptions in a 30-7 UNM victory at San Diego State last year...four of his seven career INTs have come in the endzone

Junior WR Anthony Carter's 34-yard TD reception was the first of his career and just his third catch of the year...Carter's reception was the longest of the season by a Lobo wide receiver, other than Hank Baskett...Carter's 9-yard grab in the first quarter of the season opener vs. Washington State was the previous long

Sophomore QB Kole McKamey's 34-yard TD pass to Carter was the first passing score for the Lobos in six games, since McKamey hit Hank Baskett with a 7-yard pass against Texas Tech...UNM came into the game with an NCAA-low 1 TD pass as a team...McKamey, who did not travel to the Air Force game due to a concussion suffered against Utah on Oct. 1, completed 14 of 26 passes for 92 yards, 0 interceptions and the 1 TD...he also rushed 11 times for 24 yards...UNM is 3-2 this year when McKamey is heathly the entire game...he had to leave the Oregon State game in the second quarter with a concussion

Junior TB DonTrell Moore finished with 141 yards on 26 carries...it's his 2nd straight 100-yard effort, his 3rd of the season and 16th of his career to tie Winslow Oliver for the most in UNM history...Moore's 1st-quarter touchdown was just his second this season, and his first since scoring from 61 yards out in the 3rd quarter of the Lobos' season opener vs. Washington State...Moore had 21 TDs last year, one off the national lead...he now has 3,191 rushing yards and 34 touchdowns in his 32-game career

Senior S Josh Bazinet notched 8 tackles and his Mountain West Conference-leading 4th fumble recovery this season on a UNLV muffed punt to set up a UNM field goal in the 2nd quarter...Bazinet now has 6 fumble recoveries over the past two years

Senior K Wes Zunker had a string of 5 straight field goals snapped when his 3rd quarter kick was blocked...Zunker made a nice play, however, to prevent the Rebels from advancing the loose ball...UNLV was forced to punt on its ensuing possession...Zunker did convert a 32-yard FG, giving him 24 for his career, which ties Joe Bibbo for 6th place all-time at UNM...Zunker is now 6-9 on the year and 24-32 for his career...the 75% career accuracy ties Rick Walsh (18-24) for 2nd-best in the UNM record book...Zunker also sent two more kickoffs into the endzone, bringing his season touchback totals up to a career-high 8

UNM junior P Tyler Gaus was named MWC Special Teams player of the week after the UNLV game...Gaus punted 8 times for a 41.6-yard average and he dropped four balls inside the Rebels' 13-yard line...the four kicks came to rest at the 11, 3, 13 and 6-yard lines, respectively...his final boot was 53 yards and was downed at the 6, forcing the Rebels to travel 94 yards for a potential game-winning score...Gaus is averaging 40.6 yards on 49 kicks in 2004...18 of the boots have been downed inside the 20, while 10 have been fair caught...only 2 kicks have been touchbacks

SLOW STARTS, FAST FINISHES - That's been the story for Lobo football the past few seasons. As the leaves start to fall, so have the opponents. A look at UNM's recent record:

Year Start Finish (Regular Season Only) 2000 0-3 5-4 2001 2-4 4-1 2002 2-4 / 3-5 5-2 / 4-1 2003 1-3 7-2 2004 2-4 ???

TEAM NOTES TO DATE - UNM has outscored opponents 65-10 in the 3rd quarter and it's 51-0 in the Lobos' favor the past 5 games...the only teams to get on the board against the Lobos in the 3rd period are Washington State (1 TD) and Texas Tech (1 FG)

The Lobos have trailed by at least 10 points in the first half of all 3 MWC games: 21-7 to Utah, 21-0 at Air Force and 17-7 at UNLV...UNM also fell behind Oregon State 14-0 at the break

Attendance for Utah was a season-high 40,182, the 3rd-largest crowd in University Stadium history...through three home games, UNM is averaging 37,929 (113,788 total)...the school record for average attendance is 35,127 set last year

UNM has won nine straight games when it scores first...since the start of the 2001 season, the Lobos are 16-1 when getting on the scoreboard first...the only loss came at Utah State in 2002

The Lobos are 28-9 under Rocky Long when committing fewer turnovers in a game...they had won 10 straight before the loss to Utah...the Utes had three turnovers to UNM's two

The 21-17 loss to Washington State ended a 16-game UNM winning streak when it led after three quarters...the Lobos led the Cougars 14-7 going into the fourth quarter...the last loss had been to BYU in 2001, a game the Lobos led 13-10, but lost 24-20 to the 17th-ranked Cougars...must be something about playing the Cougars

It had been 12 years since New Mexico lost a game when leading by at least 10 points in the fourth quarter as it did against Washington State (17-7)...on Sept. 26, 1992, UNM had a 25-6 lead at Air Force only to fall 33-32 as the Falcons outscored the Lobos 27-7 in the final period

UNM and Washington State played to a scoreless first half, the first time the Lobos had been involved in that situation since Oct. 25, 1997, at Utah...the Utes eventually won that game 15-10

New Mexico has scored 4 touchdowns this season on defense or special teams

Wes Zunker's 43-yard FG as time expired gave the Lobos a gritty 27-24 victory over Texas Tech on Sept. 11, ending UNM's 10-game, 20-year losing skid against the Red Raiders...New Mexico had not beaten TTU since a 29-24 decision in Albuquerque on Sept. 22, 1984

The losses to Washington State and Oregon State pushed the Lobos' losing streak against Pac-10 teams to nine game

The Lobos' 38-3 win at New Mexico State was the largest victory margin in Las Cruces in 43 games, dating to 1905...it's the biggest road win since a 56-7 triumph at UTEP in 1972