New Mexico Lobos Football – On The Mountain West Road
Saturday: No. 15 Fresno State 69, New Mexico Lobos 28
By Richard Stevens – Senior Writer/GoLobos.com
The changing of the Lobo culture really was apparent in New Mexico’s loss at Fresno State, but maybe not on the scoreboard that favored the No. 15 ranked Bulldogs by a 69-28 lean.
The scoreboard reflected depth, experience, longevity of a program, size and lots of other program-building stuff including talent. The Bulldogs are very good, but Fresno State turned its corner a few years back and the Lobos are still heading toward their future.
What was impressive about this loss was the Lobo team that came out of the locker room at the half down 35-to-zip, but played the game with an impressive combination of pride and moxie. The Lobos – battered, bruised and injured heading into this Mountain West contest – did not roll over.
Instead, they stood up and exchanged a few punches.
“We could have run and hid, but that’s not what we did,” said Lobo Coach Bob Davie.
This isn’t to suggest the Lobos outplayed Fresno State in the second half. The 10-0 Bulldogs -- on a quest to go BCS bowling -- outscored New Mexico 34-28 in the final 30 minutes. Fresno had dipped into its bench – as had the Lobos.
But the Lobos shocked Fresno for 21 points in the third quarter forcing the Bulldogs to try and match those points on the board to get a win impressive enough to impress the men and the computers who figure out national rankings.
The Lobos were in Fresno without quarterback Cole Gautsche and without tailback Kasey Carrier, but got a gutsy performance from junior Clayton Mitchem, who went 8-of-11 passing for 157 yards and scrambled for 23 yards and one touchdown on the ground.
The Lobos again got an electrifying to touchdown on a kickoff from Carlos Wiggins, who burst out of a huge hole on the right side of the UNM blocking wall and raced 89 yards with 2:22 left in the third quarter. The Bulldogs did not kick to Wiggins again.
The Lobos also got offensive touchdowns from Crusoe Gongbay and Jhurell Pressley, who ran through and past the Fresno State defense on an 80-yard sprint to close the scoring for the day.
The loss dropped New Mexico to 3-8 on the season and 1-6 in Mountain West play. The Bulldogs roll to 10-0 and 7-0 in league play and earned a spot in the 2013 Mountain West Championship game.
Coach Davie was both philosophical and realistic after the 69-28 loss to Fresno State.
“The message is not what it is right now but what it was two years ago when we came in and what it can be two years down the road,” said Davie. “And rather than flinch and look for someone to blame, let’s just look in the mirror and see where we are and where we need to go.
“How do we get bigger, stronger? How do we get more explosive in order to compete? Instead of having a bad attitude from this, let’s have a realistic attitude from this.”
The reality of UNM’s trip to play the No. 15 ranked Bulldogs was that UNM was playing an extremely talented and established program – a mature program. The Lobos are in the early stages of building a program and the team Coach Davie took to Fresno was young, inexperienced, lacking depth and seriously battered.
The Lobos went to Fresno minus their No. 1 (Kasey Carrier) and No. 2 (Cole Gautsche) rushers and a number of other key Lobos played hurt.
And Fresno State took advantage of this advantage – as they should have. They used the awesome passing talent of 6-foot-4 senior Derek Carr, who was throwing to two NFL-type receivers and the Bulldogs marched and marched.
Carr went 27-of-37 through the air for 527 yards and tossed a school-record seven touchdowns. Davante Adams caught nine passes for 246 yards and four touchdowns and Josh Harper caught 10 passes for 161 yards and three scores. The Fresno State passing game was deadly.
The game was over by the 35-0 halftime score, as Fresno scored touchdowns on five of its first six possessions. The Lobos had 42 rushing yards on 30 carries in the first half. However, as Davie put it, the Lobos did not run and hide.
“It’s how do we take this situation that we’re in and take this as a positive,” said Davie. “We just have to get through this storm.”
Pressley’s 80-yard sprint pushed him to the top of the UNM rushing chart with 87 yards. Gongbay had 54 on 19 carries. Josh Quezada had 90 yards on 11 carries for Fresno and Malique Micenheimer had 65 yards on 8 carries. Those two Fresno backs averaged 8.1 yards per carry.
Fresno State totaled a school-record 820 yards – 543 passing and 277 on the ground. UNM had 325 yards in total offense – 168 rushing and 157 passing. The Bulldogs had 34 first downs to 10 for the Lobos. UNM punted the ball nine times to three for Fresno.
The Bulldogs’ defense also was dominant early. UNM did not score in the first half and ten Fresno defenders were involved in tackles for a loss.