New Mexico’s football team has fallen on hard times, suffering its fifth straight loss on Saturday at Air Force Academy, this one 42-24.
The Lobos dropped to 3-7, 1-5 in the Mountain West Conference and a win this week will be even more challenging than the previous with Boise State coming to Albuquerque on Friday night. The Broncos were early 19-point favorites as of Sunday.
However, it will be a very special night for their team captain, senior right guard Aaron Jenkins. This week might as well be, “AJ Week,” as Jenkins is set to break the school record for most games played with 51.
Jenkins will be a big reason for motivation this week. Who wants to lose on the night of breaking a significant record?
WHAT WENT RIGHT: Tyson Dyer, the Lobos’ 26-year-old sophomore from Australia, booted a school-record 84-yard punt late in the third quarter. It was the longest punt in the NCAA this season. The previous record was 81 by Bob Crandall in 1958.
Dyer also has the distinction of owning the longest punt by a sophomore in the Mountain West Conference.
Dyer’s 84-yard punt pinned Air Force on its own 1-yard line. On the ensuing play, defensive lineman Adebayo Soremekun forced a fumble on Falcons quarterback Donald Hammond III, and cornerback Jalin Burrell scooped up the loose ball in the end zone to pull the Lobos within 35-24.
Also, the Lobos responded well in the first half after falling behind 14-0. Redshirt freshman running back Daevon Vigilant provided a spark and flashed some optimism for the future.
He showed great emotion when he scored an 11-yard touchdown, his first career TD, that tied the game at 14 with 2:30 left before halftime.
The Lobo defense recovered three fumbles for the second straight week.
WHAT WENT WRONG: Aside from the fumbles, the Lobos just could not stop the Falcons’ triple-option attack. Air Force racked up a season-high 486 rushing yards. Hammond led the way with a career-high 136 yards to go with one touchdown on 19 carries.
UNM’s offense failed to find any consistency. The Lobos struggled because of turnovers and missed opportunities that the defense provided with two of the fumbles.
NOTABLE: Boise State defended its smurf turf and took down No. 16-ranked Fresno State 24-17 on Friday. The Broncos, who improved to 8-2, 5-1 in the Mountain West Conference, will play their second straight Friday night game this week.
HE SAID IT: “The thing that is hard for people to realize what makes it so difficult is you probably work harder when you lose than when you win. Just like last year, you get into these kind of deals and you keep working, you keep trying to solve problems, you keep trying to push guys and coaches grinding more and more. At some point, something good has to happen for us and not much good has happened. Even when we had the opportunities against Colorado State, San Diego State, we haven’t been able to close it. We just have to continue to accept the challenge and fight to get better, and just win a game.” — UNM coach Bob Davie