Lobos Look To Get Back on Winning Track in Vegas
Oct. 30, 2012
Saturday: New Mexico (4-5, 1-3 Mountain West) at UNLV (1-8, 1-3)
The University of New Mexico football team looks to snap a two-game losing streak on Saturday when it travels to Las Vegas, Nev., to take on the UNLV Rebels. The lone UNM win in 2011 came at home when it topped the Rebels 21-14.
The game is on Comcast channel 77 through the Time-Warner Cable SportsNet broadcast. Barry Tompkins has play-by-play duties and Jay Leeuwenburg is the analyst. The game will air on the Lobo Radio Network with play-by-play announcer Scott Galetti and analyst Greg Remington.
Quarterback play has been the issue for UNM the last two weeks, or rather, lack of quarterback play. The Lobos played the last two second halves without their top two QBs -- senior B.R. Holbrook and true freshman Cole Gautsche. Both have been sidelined with injuries. The two had been key rotating figures in the team's 4-3 start this season, and UNM had leads of 10-0 and 21-0 the last two weeks against Air Force and Fresno State, respectively. Without them, the Lobos couldn't mount enough offense to preserve those leads.
Junior Kasey Carrier has been the nation's best rusher the last four weeks. During that span, Carrier has 826 rushing yards (an average of 206.5 yards per game) and 11 TDs on 115 carries. Carrier is No. 2 in the nation in rushing with an average of 138.0 yards per game. His 13 rushing TDs are tied for the fourth most in school history and are currently second in the Mountain West. Carrier surpassed the 1,000-yard mark rushing against Fresno State -- the first Lobo to do so since Rodney Ferguson in 2008.
New Mexico is No. 5 in the nation in rushing offense with an average of 302.7 yards per game. UNM has rushed for 2,724 yards and 28 TDs this season. The Lobos had 2,654 rushing yards and 23 rushing TDs during the 2010 and 2011 seasons combined. The 2012 offense has seven 300-yard rushing games and six in a row; the 1971 edition had nine consecutive 300-yard games and averaged 384.5 yards rushing per game.
The Lobos are No. 15 in the nation in fewest penalty yards at 35.3 yards per game. They are tied for No. 13 in turnover margin at plus-1.0 per game and in turnovers forced with 20. UNM is fifth in time of possession at 33:30 per game.
UNLV enters the game looking to end a five-game losing streak. Redshirt freshman QB Nick Sherry has thrown for 2,001 yards with 12 TDs and 10 interceptions. Junior RB Tim Cornett is averaging 103.9 rushing yards per game with six scores. Sophomore WRs Marcus Sullivan and Devante Davis are Nos. 4-5 in the Mountain West in reception yards per game (62.4 and 61.6, respectively). Senior LB John Lotulelei leads the league with 89 tackles.
New Mexico will travel to Las Vegas, Nev., Saturday to play UNLV for the 20th time since the series started in 1978. UNM has an overall record of 10-9 against the Rebels, but just 3-5 in Las Vegas. Last season when the two met in Albuquerque, the Lobos prevailed 21-14 for their first and only win of the 2011 season.
Junior quarterback B.R. Holbrook was 15-of-23 for 274 yards and one touchdown. Cruesoe Gongbay led the way for the running backs with 93 yards on the ground and RB Demarcus Rogers had 47 yards and two touchdowns. Defensively, senior linebacker Carmen Messina led UNM with 14 tackles and the forced fumble that led to the game-winning drive.
THE STARTING LINEUP
The Lobos (4-5, 1-3 Mountain West) look to get back to the .500 mark Saturday when they travel to UNLV. The Lobos are trying to make it two straight wins against the Rebels after losing three straight from 2008-10.
The Rebels are 1-8 and 1-3 in conference play. Despite an impressive win over Air Force and near misses in two of the last three weeks against Nevada and San Diego State, UNLV has a five-game losing streak entering Saturday's game and has lost 20 in a row on the road.
The Rebels have been a thorn in UNM's side since the two became members of the Mountain West in 1999.
In 2000, the Rebels scored a touchdown with 18 seconds left in a bowl-bid elimination game in Las Vegas to win 18-14. UNLV went on to play in the Las Vegas Bowl, its last postseason appearance. In 2003, the Rebels took advantage of six Lobo turnovers for a 37-35 win at University Stadium that ultimately prevented UNM from winning a conference championship. And in 2008, UNLV eliminated New Mexico from bowl contention with a 27-20 November win at Sam Boyd Stadium.
UNM had its own memorable victory in Vegas in 2002. Third-string QB Justin Millea, a converted DB pressed into service, ran for 148 yards and a TD on 20 carries to lift the Lobos to an improbable 25-16 win. UNM went on to qualify for the Las Vegas Bowl, its first postseason game in five years.
In that game, Millea completed 2-of-8 passes for 20 yards with an interception, but his 73-yard touchdown run with 5:47 left in the third quarter gave the Lobos a 21-10 lead and allowed the visitors to ride their defense the rest of the way home.
Saturday's game is similar for UNM, which may have to rely on its third-string quarterback. Sophomore transfer Quinton McCown is the only healthy scholarship QB left on the team's roster. Senior B.R. Holbrook suffered a separated shoulder and true freshman Cole Gautsche suffered a neck injury.
McCown has appeared in three games, and he threw his first touchdown pass of the season against Fresno State, a 19-yarder to Thomas.