New Mexico Lobos Football – Branch Field – University Stadium
Saturday: Colorado State Rams 66, New Mexico Lobos 42,
Up Next: New Mexico at Fresno State, 2 p.m. (MT), Saturday (Nov. 23)
By Richard Stevens – Senior Writer/GoLobos.com
In a Mountain West shootout featuring sizzling plays, sensational plays, gutsy plays and big plays, maybe the different came down to just a few plays -- and a couple of defensive stops.
The Colorado State Rams made two fourth-down stops to outlast New Mexico in a 66-42 shootout Saturday night on Branch Field. It was a game of wondrous offensive accomplishment for both teams, who combined for 108 points, 58 first downs and 1,176 yards.
“You can’t fault our offense,” said Lobo Coach Bob Davie. “They couldn’t stop us either.”
The Lobos went into this Mountain West contest battling injuries and had to play the second half without their two main offensive weapons: tailback Kasey Carrier and quarterback Cole Gautsche. Still, behind junior quarterback Clayton Mitchem and Crusoe Gongbay, the Lobos continued to move the football.
“It says a lot about Clayton Mitchem to come in and play the second half the way he did,” said Lobo center Dillon Farrell. “That’s tough for someone to step in when someone goes down. I think he did a heck of a job.”
The New Mexico Lobos racked up 527 yards on 64 plays averaging 8.2 yards a play. UNM also got a 100-yard kickoff return for a score by Carlos Wiggins. The Colorado State Rams fueled by 291 yards and six touchdowns by tailback Kapri Bibbs rolled out 649 yards on 77 plays and averaged 8.4 yards per play.
“Give credit to Colorado State,” said Davie. “They are a pretty tough football team, particularly on offense. They took it to us and we couldn’t get off the field. We played the run pretty good early in the game and eventually (their offense) wore us down.”
Really, it was a game until the 10:33 mark of the fourth quarter when the Rams stopped UNM’s Crusoe Gongbay on a 4th-and-two at the UNM 36. The Rams then went 37 yards in four plays to push their way into a 59-42 cushion that they rode to the final.
The score was distorted a bit at the end when UNM went into a hurry-up passing attack that was stopped on downs and CSU padded the count with Bibbs’ sixth touchdown of the game.
“I appreciate the effort,” said Davie of his defense. “It’s going to take time. The reality is they shouldn’t score 66 points. We couldn’t stop them.
“But I saw a lot of positive things. But I’m really proud of these kids. We had so many young kids out there. We have two games left against great offensive teams, so we know what’s ahead of us.”
The loss dropped UNM to 3-7 on the season and 1-5 in Mountain West play. The Rams moved to 6-5 and 4-2 and are one win away from bowl eligibility. UNM finishes the season on the road at Fresno State and at Boise State. “We’re not going to run and hide,“ said Davie. “We’re going to step up and accept the challenge.”
The Rams actually had the lone punt of the game, but that came late in the second quarter when their hurry-up offense sizzled. That punt did not hurt the Rams as Gautsche was intercepted to end the first half.
Gautsche ran for 60 yards and went 6-of-9 passing for 133 yards. He threw two picks at the close of the second quarter, but CSU did not score off either turnover. “Cole made some great throws,” said Davie. “Everybody has seen his development.”
Gautsche became ill at halftime and Mitchem took over the huddle in the second half. He went 5-of-8 for 116 passing yards. Mitchem led UNM to three touchdowns in the third quarter, but UNM did not score in the final period.
The Lobos got 14 tackles from Dakota Cox, 10 from Dallas Bollema and seven from Ryan Santos.
Gongbay ended with 98 yards on 12 carries for an impressive 8.2 average per run. Teriyon Gipson had 48 yards on six totes for an 8.0 average and David Anaya had 35 yards on four carries for an 8.8 average. UNM averaged 6.0 yards as a team and totaled 278 yards on the ground. CSU was giving up an average of 139.5 yards rushing coming into University Stadium.
“We take pride in moving people,” said Farrell. “The big thing was getting a win especially on Senior Night. That was something we really wanted.”
The Lobos said goodbye to 18 seniors Saturday, but Farrell and senior defensive lineman Jacori Greer like the direction this program is heading.
“We’re young and we’re building something,” said Greer. “It’s going to take time but the effort is there. Guys aren’t quitting.”
Said Farrell: “I see where our program is heading and I really love it. I’m excited about the future of this program.”
Bibbs, who came into the game leading the nation in rushing scores, set a CSU record with his six rushing TDs. The Lobos also were hurt by Rams’ quarterback Garrett Grayson , who went 20-of-28 passing for 302 yards and three scores. He also had three big scrambles out of the pocket on third down to keep CSU drives alive.
The Ram’s defensive stop in the fourth quarter was CSU’s first stop since UNM’s first offensive possession of the game -- a drive that also ended on fourth down.
Second Half: Colorado State 35, New Mexico 21
The Lobos came out of the half down 31-21, but got the kickoff to open the second half. They scored in two plays: 31-28. Crusoe Gongbay set up the score with a 61-yard run and Teriyon Gipson took it over from seven yards out. Clayton Mitchem had taken over the huddle from Cole Gautsche, who played the entire first half.
CSU scored eight plays later going 80 yards and ending the drive with a 27-yard burst by Kapri Bibbs.
UNM again struck back. Mitchem threaded the needle on 3rd-and-12 hitting Tyler Duncan on the fingertips for 52 yards that set the Lobos up on the CSU 12-yard line. Jhurell Pressley went around the UNM’s right side to score on the next play: 38-35.
It was the Rams’ turn to try and answer. They got a big run from Bibbs on 4th-and-one with the ball just short of the UNM 35-yard line. Bibbs broke two tackles to squirm for the first down at the UNM 34. Bibbs bulled his way 18 yards to the UNM 1-yard line and scored two plays later to push CSU up 44-35.
It was the Lobos’ turn to march and they didn’t waste the opportunity. UNM got a big 4th-down run from Gongbay to keep the drive alive and David Anaya made a fingertip catch for 36 yards that set the Lobos up on the CSU three. Gongbay went over on the next play: 45-42. That score carried into the third quarter. CSU now had 475 total yards and UNM had 431 yards.
The shootout continued. The Rams marched 76 yards in nine plays with Bibbs getting his fourth TD of the game from seven yards out: 52-42. Bibbs had 189 yards at that point in the game.
The Rams finally came up with a stop. It was huge. UNM went for it on 4th-and-two at the UNM 36 and Gongbay was stopped a yard short. It was CSU’s first stop since UNM’s first offensive possession of the game – a drive that also ended on fourth down.
The Rams had a chance to finally create a bigger gap on the scoreboard. A 26-yard burst by Bibbs, his fifth TD of the game, helped push CSU to a 59-42 cushion. The Rams rode that gap to the 66-42 final.
First Half: Colorado State 31, New Mexico 21
So much for the running game.
UNM’s Cole Gautsche and CSU’s Garrett Grayson combined to go 22-of-28 through the air for 384 yards and five touchdowns. Gautsche added 60 on the ground, but Grayson went 16-of-19 passing for 251 yards and three scores.
UNM, the No. 2 rushing team in the nation, ended up with more passing yards (133) than running yards (106) in reaching its first-half total of 239 yards. CSU had 343 total yards. The Lobos got touchdowns from Joe Hansley, Reece White, Tyler Duncan and a stunning 100-yard kickoff return by Carlos Wiggins.
UNM had no rushing scores in the first 30 minutes while CSU got one from Kapri Bibbs, who ran for 90 yards on 18 carries. UNM’s Kasey Carrier had 13 yards on six touches.
The Rams took their first possession to the end zone – 7 plays, 66 yards, for a 7-0 lead. Grayson ended the drive with an 8-yard TD pass to Joe Hansley. UNM marched to the CSU 26-yard line, turning it over on downs. The Rams again marched all the way with Grayson finished with a 43-yard scoring pass to Chris Nwoke, who was all alone on the West sidelines. The Rams were quickly up 14-0.
The Lobos needed a score and got one. Gautsche stepped back and found a wide-open Reece White flying down the middle. The play covered 50 yards and ended a 6-play drive of 76 yards. The first quarter ended with CSU up 14-7 and in possession of the football on the UNM 31-yard line.
CSU ended the first quarter with 174 total yards and UNM had 125 with 63 on the ground and 62 through the air. The Rams had 135 passing and 39 rushing. CSU had 14 first downs and the Lobos had seven.
The Lobos held the Rams on their third offensive possession, but the Rams slipped in a 52-yard field goal to go up 17-7. The Lobos again needed to answer on the scoreboard. They did it in dramatic fashion as Carlos Wiggins returned the CSU kickoff 100 yards for the score. Justus Adams converted and the Lobos were close at 17-14 with 13:13 to play in the half.
The Lobos almost got another big play on their kickoff as CSU fumbled, but recovered its own miscue. The Rams had the ball at their 24-yard line and again drove for a score to go up 24-14.
The Lobos started their drive on the 34 with 8:57 to play. The Lobos used two big Gautsche passes to again reach the board and cut CSU’s lead to 24-21. Gautsche ended the drive with a 26-yard scoring pass to Tyler Duncan.
The Rams again rolled. They rambled 76 yards in 1:18 with the final play in the four-play drive an 11-yard burst from Bibbs. CSU was up 31-21 with 3:48 to play. The Lobos had time to score, but a holding call pushed UNM back to its 37-yard line with 2:19 to play. Gautsche made his first bad pass of the first half and his deep floater was picked off by Trent Mathews with 1:31 to play. The Lobos needed to keep the Rams off the boards in this shootout where possessions were vital.
The Lobos held the Rams’ hurry-up offense and the first punt of the half came with 58 seconds to go. UNM got the ball at its 41 with 46 seconds to play. Gautsche was picked off at the CSU 3-yard line and CSU took a knee to kill the first-half clock. CSU carried a 31-21 lead into the break.