Flashback: New Mexico gets a 21-yard touchdown run in overtime from Kasey Carrier, then stops UTEP inches short of the first-down marker on a fourth-and-1 from the UNM 4 to take an exciting, 42-35 victory over the Miners at the Sun Bowl.
What went right: The Lobos’ straight-ahead running game, stifled in a 21-13 loss to UTSA the previous Saturday, came back with a vengeance — 395 yards worth — at UTEP. Carrier accounted for 291 of those yards on 41 carries. The offensive line dominated virtually all night and overcame the loss to injury of starting center Dillon Farrell in the second quarter. The Lobo defense gave up five touchdowns and 399 yards, but was there when it counted — forcing two UTEP punts in the second half as well as getting that final stop.
Quarterback Clayton Mitchem, starting his first game in place of injured starter Cole Gautsche, ran for two touchdowns and set up another with a 29-yard pass to tight end Reece White. So successful was the running game that punter Ben Skaer was called upon only once.
What went wrong: The defense gave up a 65-yard touchdown run and tackled poorly at times. Kicker Justus Adams, a model of consistency last season, is 0-for-2 on field goals this year after clanking a 21-yarder off the left upright in the Sun Bowl. Mitchem fumbled, setting up UTEP’s first touchdown. Tight end Andrew Aho dropped what would have been a first-down pass on a third-and-1, forcing the only UNM punt of the night. Confusion forced the Lobos to burn a time out before they’d run a play on their final, unsuccessful drive in regulation.
Injury report: Starting center Dillon Farrell is likely to miss Saturday’s game at Pittsburgh after suffering an apparent MCL sprain in the second quarter against UTEP. Otherwise, Davie said, it’s the usual assortment of bumps and bruises.
Quoting Davie: “(Finding) a way to win a close game is hard to do, and we found a way to do it. Whether it came down to one inch or one yard or one first down, we got on that bus with a win. And that’s a big deal for us.”
Next up: The Lobos travel to Pittsburgh for a 10:30 a.m. MDT game on Saturday. The Panthers are 0-1 after a 41-13 loss to Florida State on Aug. 31. They had last Saturday off. Davie, a native of the Pittsburgh area, got his start as a college coach as a Pitt graduate assistant in 1977.