Oct. 9, 2010
Saturday: New Mexico State 16, Lobos 14
Up Next: San Diego State at Lobos, Oct 23
By Richard Stevens -- Senior Writer/GoLobos.com
LAS CRUCES, N.M. -- It probably is a good thing and a bad thing that the University of New Mexico Lobos slip into a bye week looking for health, looking for answers, looking to change the misfortunes of an 0-6 season. For sure, the Lobos need the time off to heal.
But the Lobos also have two weeks before they get a chance to wash away the awful taste of Saturday night's 16-14 loss to the New Mexico State Aggies. This one hurts or as Lobo coach Mike Locksley put it, it "will stick In our craw for the next two weeks."
"This bye week couldn't come at a better time for us," the Lobo coach added. " We have a chance to get healthy not only physically but also mentally. Hopefully we'll come back a smarter and better football team."
The loss to NMSU was a stunner simply because the Lobo defense seemed to have established that there was no way the sluggish Aggie offense was going to score off the UNM defense.
And that defense never did yield a touchdown to the Aggies on a warm night in Aggie Memorial Stadium. In fact, Lobo Bubba Forrest's first career interception set up a UNM touchdown that put the Lobos up 14-6.
The Aggies scored their lone touchdown when UNM's return man let a punt slip between his legs and into the UNM end zone. When the wild scramble was over, the refs stuck a nose into the pile and declared an Aggie touchdown. A review failed to reverse the decision.
That lone Aggie TD came with 4:24 to go in the first half and cut UNM's lead to 14-13. That score was carried into the half and UNM never scored in the second half.
The Aggies also banged through three field goals with the winning kick coming with 1:56 to play. It was the only score by either team in the second half.
That heartbreaking kick was set up by UNM's fourth fumble loss of the game, an unusual stat to favor an Aggie team that went into the game having created, or found, no turnovers in their four previous losses.
"When you turn the ball over five times, you don't give yourself a chance to win," said Locksley. "The guys got the game into the fourth quarter which is something we have asked of them. But we didn't make the plays we needed to make to win the game."
The Aggies did - just barely.
The Lobos had chances to put the game out of reach, but failed to score any points in the second half. The Lobos had a chance to ice the game in the closing minutes of the fourth quarter, but freshman quarterback Stump Godfrey fumbled away the ball on first down with 5:11 to play.
"We gave a team that maybe was on the verge of letting up that shot they needed of momentum," said Locksley.
The Aggies recovered at the UNM 44-yard line. The Aggies used a 21-yard pass from Andrew Manley to Marcus Allen to set up a first-and-goal at the Lobo 4-yard line. The UNM defense held, but Tyler Stampler banged in his third field goal, this one from 22 yards with 1:56 on the clock. Stampler also hit two field goals in the first quarter to give NMSU a 6-0 lead.
There was still time for UNM to work its way into position for a game-winning field goal by James Aho. A Lobo penalty on the kickoff pushed the UNM offense back from the 29 to the UNM 15-yard line. Brad Gruner took UNM to the UNM 39-yard line before the game ended on a Gruner desperation pass that was picked off by NMSU's Andrew Manley.
"It's definitely a frustrating feeling," Locksley said after the game.
Said Lobo defense end Jaymar Latchison: "Everybody is sticking together. It's not our character to give up and lay down."
The Lobos ended the game with 114 yards rushing and 160 passing for a 274 total. The Aggies had 168 yards on the ground and only 38 passing for a 206 total. The Aggies had one interception, picked off by Lobo Bubba Forrest, and NMSU lost one fumble.
UNM lost four of five fumbles and had Gruner's pick in the closing seconds. The Aggies had two turnovers, an interception that led to a UNM TD and a fumble recovered by UNM's Brett Kennedy on the Lobos' 26-yard line. This fumble negated a Gruner fumble 13 seconds earlier.
UNM was penalized eight times for 115 yards and the Aggies were flagged eight times for 75 yards.
UNM gave up an average of 33 yards on NMSU kickoff returns. Aggie Taveon Rogers returned the game's opening kickoff 44 yards which help set up Stampler's 39-yard field goal at 9:57 which gave NMSU a 3-0 lead.
Gruner led UNM with 49 yards rushing. He went 10-20-1 passing for 145 yards. Godfrey went 2-of-3 passing for 15 yards. Bryant Williams had four catches for 97 yards, including a 42-yard TD pass from Gruner. The Lobo defense got 12 tackles each from Joe Stoner and Carmen Messina. Seth Johannemann had 11 wraps and Forrest had 10 total tackles.