New Mexico Lobos Football – Branch Field – University Stadium
New Mexico Lobos 45, Air Force Falcons 37
Up Next: 5 p.m., Saturday (Nov. 16) – Colorado State at New Mexico
By Richard Stevens – Senior Writer/GoLobos.com
Maybe the Lobos should have another Brian Urlacher Night.
On a night the Lobos retired Urlacher’s No. 44, the New Mexico Lobos snapped a three-game losing skid and registered their first Mountain West win of the 2013 season with a 45-37 win over the Air Force Falcons.
“To just have the type of discipline, courage and resiliency to beat an Academy, I’m just proud we are in a position to be able to do that,” said Lobo Coach Bob Davie. “We just beat a team we had beaten only twice in ten years.
“We just played the Air Force Academy and did not turn the ball over and had two penalties on the night."
And no punts.
It wasn’t exactly a textbook night for the New Mexico defense, but on a night the UNM Pistol was unstoppable with 451 yards on the ground, the Lobo defense probably needed to stop the Air Force option just one time.
The Lobo defense got two stops. The stops were huge. Air Force had five touchdowns and a field goal. UNM had six touchdowns and a field goal.
The first Lobo stop came on Air Force’s first possession of the game and led to the only punt of the game – by Air Force. That stop also sparked an important 14-0 Lobo lead.
The second defensive stop came in the fading minutes of the fourth quarter and obviously was aided by a 15-yard penalty slapped on the Falcons for an illegal block. The Falcons had only three penalites on the night.
The Lobos’ Brett Bowers then got a sack while Air Force was looking at a 4th-and-24 at the UNM 39. The Lobos took over at the Air Force 48. UNM sealed the win with a drive that led to a Justin Adams’ 24-yard field goal with 2:32 to play. That put UNM up by 11 points – 45-34. Air Force got a 52-yard field goal with 1:25 to play to cut its hole to 45-37, but UNM recovered the on-side kick.
The UNM defense gave up 257 rushing yards, 188 passing yards, and 445 total yards to the 2-8 Falcons, who are 0-6 in Mountain West play.
“We were prepared. We really were,” said Davie of his defense. “Their quarterback is the one who at the end of the day made that (offense) go with his ability to throw the ball.”
The Falcon freshman, Nate Romine, went 15-of-23 with three touchdowns and no picks for 188 yards.
The Falcons actually attacked with some balance but also got 177 yards from Anthony Lacoste, who averaged 8.4 yards per carry.
However, the Falcons had even more problems stopping the Cole Gautsche-led New Mexico Pistol that racked up 451 rushing yards. Gautsche had 140 yards and two TD runs and Kasey Carrier went over 1,000 yards on the season with his 179-yard effort. The Lobos also got 87 yards and two rushing scores from Jhurell Pressley on only four carries.
It was a shootout between two of the top rushing teams in the nation, however, both teams used key passes to help their cause on the scoreboard.
The Lobos scored their first TD on a Gautsche pass to Jeric Magnant and used a Gautsche to Andrew Aho pass to finish a critical two-point conversion that gave UNM a seven-point lead at 35-28. UNM and Gautsche went 1-of-3 passing vs. Air Force.
The Falcons scored their first touchdown on the ground, but then used three Romine passes to take a 28-27 lead -- a lead that was aided by Air Force blocking a UNM PAT on the previous series. It was Air Force's only lead of the game.
It’s difficult to say the Lobos (3-6, 1-4) had a key drive in this MW win. The Lobos never had to punt.
For sure, UNM’s drive to push their lead to 42-34 was key. It came after Lobo Fatu Ulale blocked an Air Force PAT that kept UNM up 35-34. Adams made his kick and UNM had an eight-point lead with 10:32 to play.
The Lobo defense then got the stop finalized by the Bowers' sack and put a seal around the win with Adams' field goal with 2:32 to play.
“At some point, you do have to win,” said Davie. “They’ve (Lobos) won a Mountain West game and they showed the people across this country how far they have come. We’re making some progress.”
The Falcons came out of the halftime break down 21-14 and quickly -- and impressively -- knotted the game at 21-all. Air Force marched 86 yards in four plays and 56 seconds. They finished with a 10-yard pass from Romine to Jale Robinette, who broke a tackle to get into the zone.
The Falcons still needed to prove on defense that they could stop the UNM “Pistol” offense. They tried to do it with an on-side kick however UNM recovered and had a short field on the Air Force 46-yard line. It wasn’t a bad gamble by Air Force. Even a long field hadn’t stopped the UNM option from rolling through Air Force’s defense.
The Lobos traversed the 46 yards in seven plays with Jhurell Pressley scoring from three yards out. The point-after kick was blocked and UNM held a 27-21 lead with 9:59 to play in the third quarter. That miss ended Justin Adams’ school-record streak of 73 consecutive extra points.
The Falcons then took their first lead of the game. They marched 74 yards in nine plays with Romine finishing the 74-yard drive with an 7-yard pass to Garret Griffin. AFA made the kick and was up 28-27.
The Falcons’ lead was short lived. A 61-yard dash by Pressley off a pitch from Gautsche made it 33-28. UNM went for a two-point conversion and a perfectly thrown pass from Gautsche to Andrew Aho in the corner of the end zone put the Lobos back up by seven: 35-28.
The Lobos lead lasted a bit longer thanks to UNM’s Fatu Utale blocking the extra point after an Air Force score. UNM led 35-34 with 14:58 to play. The Lobos went up 42-34 with 10:32 to play on a 76-yard drive that Gautsche ended from 11 yards out. Adams made the PAT.
“It was a heck of a win," said Davie. "It was nice to win a close one. it was a big deal to our kids and it was a big deal to have Brian Urlacher here. It was neat to see him out there. He knows about the challenges in this program."
First Half: New Mexico 21, Air Force 14
The beginning was perfect. The Lobos converted a key fourth down and reached the end zone on a 28-yard pass from Gautsche to a wide open Jeric Magnant. It took the Lobos 10 plays to march the 66 yards.
It got better. The Lobos’ defense held Air Force on its first possession and quickly gave the ball back to the UNM offense. The Gautsche-led option again ripped through the Falcons’ defense behind gaping holes cut out by the UNM offensive line. This drive went 71 yards in 11 plays.
Gautsche ended that march on a quarterback sneak from about three inches out. Justin Adams converted and UNM had a 14-0 lead with 3:06 to go in the first quarter.
The Lobos ended the quarter with 109 yards rushing to 32 for Air Force. UNM had eight first downs to three for the Falcons. The Lobos had 137 total yards in the quarter to 51 for Air Force.
Air Force got on the board in the second quarter on a drive that began in the first quarter. The Falcons also used a 4th-down conversion to keep their drive alive and finished it with a one-yard plunge by freshman quarterback Nate Romine.
The Lobos again rolled through the Air Force defense to take a 21-7 lead with 9:02 to play in the half. Teriyon Gipson ended that 75-yard drive on a run from five yards out. The Falcons made it 21-14 on a 4th-and-3 pass from Romine to Garrett Brown, who ran a 19-yard post pattern through the heart of the UNM defense. The Falcons were down a touchdown with 3:14 to play.
Again the Lobos marched but they were fighting the clock as well as geography. A 10-yard holding penalty by UNM and a sack of quarterback Clayton Mitchem helped Air Force avoid a quarter-ending score by UNM. Mitchem got sacked a second time to end the quarter.
The Falcons probably weren’t too disappointed at the halftime score considering the stats leaned toward the Lobos. UNM had 250 total yards to 157 for AFA. UNM won the first-down battle 21-to-14 and the time of possession battle 19:07 to 10:53. Neither team had a turnover in the half and both teams were penalized one time.