Flames light up Lobos defense in UNM Homecoming upset - Albuquerque Journal

Flames light up Lobos defense in UNM Homecoming upset

For the past two weeks, New Mexico coach Bob Davie did his best to prepare his Lobos out of the bye week.

He worked them harder than last year when UNM came out of its off week and was shut out by Fresno State.

Davie also said he was wary of the opponent, knowing full well the weapons the Liberty Flames have. But he wasn’t really expecting career-high-type numbers.

The Lobos could not stop Liberty’s passing attack Saturday at Dreamstyle Stadium in a 52-43 loss in UNM’s Homecoming game.

Liberty quarterback Stephen Calvert and wide receivers Antonio Gandy-Golden and B.J. Farrow overwhelmed the Lobos (2-2) and helped Liberty (2-2) earn its first road win as an FBS squad in front of announced crowd of 18,804.

Liberty’s performance took Davie by surprise because he thought his defense would be able to cover the Flames’ receivers better.

Even more damaging was that UNM has lost redshirt sophomore quarterback Tevaka Tuioti for the season. He broke his clavicle (left non-throwing shoulder) and will have surgery on Monday. He suffered the injury after a 24-yard run in the second quarter with the Lobos trailing, 28-10.

“We have no excuses,” Davie said. “The reality is we haven’t been able to consistently stop anybody other than what we did in Las Cruces. It starts with me. We have to get back at it tomorrow. We can’t tuck our tails and we can’t hang our heads. We gotta stick together and we gotta get some things solved.”

Gandy-Golden went for a career-high and school-record 245 receiving yards and one touchdown on 11 catches. His 11th catch was the most damaging, a 50-yard reception that took the air out of the Lobos, who trailed 49-43 with about two minutes left.

Calvert overcame cramps and threw for 417 yards and three touchdowns on 24-of-41 passing with one interception. It was the third time in his career that he threw for 400 yards or more.

Farrow finished with 122 yards and one touchdown on seven catches.

Gandy-Golden said he read a story that appeared in the Journal earlier this week that featured the Jalin Burrell and the UNM defensive backs studying him and wanting to stop him. He said he was motivated by it.

“They can talk,” Gandy-Golden said. “It was nothing personal. We’re a quiet team. We work and we don’t say anything about it … They were actually good. Nothing bad to say about them. Hopefully they keep their heads up. It’s a loss. But they can come back.”

UNM junior quarterback Sheriron Jones, who for the second time this season stepped in after Tuioti started but was injured, did his best to bring back the Lobos with his best game of the season. He threw for 312 yards and four touchdowns on 15-of-27 passing. But he also had three interceptions.

The UNM defense struggled the most, trying to overcome the loss of its leader, senior linebacker Alex Hart who is out for the year with a torn ACL he suffered against New Mexico State.

The Lobos knew the Flames would be the best passing team they would face so far this season. They might be the best they face all year. But UNM still could not stop Liberty.

Liberty dominated the first half, jumping out to a 42-10 lead with Calvert leading the way.

UNM opened with an impressive and quick scoring drive with Tyrone Owens scoring on a 19-yard run. The Lobos’ drive consisted of four plays, including a 22-yard reception by Elijah Lilly and a 28-yard run by Tuioti.

But after that it was as if the Lobos stepped in quicksand and continued to sink and sink.

The Flames capitalized on each mistake. And just when things got bad, they went worse as Tuioti suffered the shoulder injury.

Liberty went for a 21-0 scoring blitz after allowing the Lobos to score on their first drive.

Each drive featured great throws by Calvert and sensational catches by Gandy-Golden and Farrow.

Calvert threw three touchdown passes in the first half. His 10-yard scoring pass to Damian King gave Liberty a 21-7 lead with 45 seconds left in the first quarter.

Calvert threw to Gandy-Golden for a 20-yard touchdown that gave Liberty a 28-10 lead with 8:08 left before the halftime.

Calvert later hit Farrow for a 24-yard touchdown that put the Flames up 42-10 with 22 seconds left in the first half.


BOX SCORE: Liberty 52, New Mexico 43

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