Editor’s note: This continues an occasional series of “Lobo Classics,” which is largely the brainchild of University of New Mexico sports information specialist Daniel Gallegos with input from Lobo fans. Here, New Mexico won its first-ever road game against a Bowl Championship Series opponent, beating the Big 12’s Missouri Tigers 45-35 on Sept. 10, 2005. The following is the Journal’s story in the Sept. 11, 2005 edition.
COLUMBIA, Mo. – You don’t tug on Superman’s cape, especially in his house. Unless you have a team stubborn enough to believe it can beat him.
On a night that Missouri quarterback Brad Smith became his school’s all-time leader in both rushing and passing yards, the University of New Mexico came up big in all three phases – offense, defense and special teams – for a 45-35 victory Saturday in front of 50,701 fans at Faurot Field.
“It’s the first time in UNM history we’ve beaten a (Bowl Championship Series) opponent on the road,” junior quarterback Kole McKamey said. “It happened to be against the Big 12, against Missouri. It’s huge.”
The Lobos are 2-0 for the first time since the 1998 season, coach Rocky Long’s first. With the win, Long became UNM’s career victory leader with 42.
“That means nothing to me,” he said.
OK, you want to look elsewhere for super heroes? Let’s start with Lobos wide receiver Hank Baskett. The senior from Clovis caught 10 passes for a career-high 209 yards and three touchdowns – including a 9-yard fade-route touchdown pass that sealed the victory.
“The line was giving Kole so much time, and no one could have put the ball where Kole did tonight,” Baskett said. “That’s just us knowing each other as well as we do.”
McKamey deserves a cape as well. He completed 14 of 25 passes for 188 yards and three touchdowns. He had another 41 yards rushing – including a huge 12-yard run on third-and-11 to kick-start UNM’s go-ahead drive that culminated with junior Kenny Byrd’s 40-yard field goal with 4:22 left. That gave UNM a 38-35 lead.
Yes, you can include Byrd on that list. Byrd’s field goal helped the Lobos rally from a 28-21 deficit with 6:02 left in the third quarter.
“It’s just a standard now to step up,” Byrd said. “I thank Wes (former kicker Zunker) for that. I thank the offense for allowing me the opportunity.”
The offense also received a big boost from senior tailback DonTrell Moore, who had 94 rushing yards – 63 in the first half to help Baskett get in the clear in the second – and who threw a 41-yard touchdown pass to Baskett that tied the game at 28 with 1:11 left in the third.
“I thought our offense played really well and we made enough plays to win,” Long said, “but we didn’t stop Smith at all. Gee whiz! He had an all-time night.”
Smith had 165 yards rushing and three touchdowns on 29 carries to become Missouri’s rushing leader with 6,959 yards.
The senior also completed 32 of 55 passes for 248 yards and one touchdown to break the school’s passing mark with 7,060 yards.
“We kept getting to him, but he kept breaking tackles and breaking out of the pocket,” said senior nose tackle Marcus Parker, who was playing with a broken hand and was cramping throughout the evening. “He’s a lot faster than what you think he is.”
Smith led the Tigers (1-1) from a 14-6 second-quarter deficit to the seven-point lead in the third. He also threw a 13-yard TD pass to tight end Chase Coffman to tie the score at 35 with 7:58 left in the game.
The Lobos responded with a 61-yard drive for Byrd’s field goal. Then another UNM hero, senior cornerback Gabriel Fulbright, thwarted Missouri’s ensuing drive, intercepting Smith at the Tigers 30.
“I was kind of expecting the quick out,” said Fulbright, whose interception against UNLV preserved the Lobos’ season-opening win on Monday. “Coach Long made another great call, and the defense just stepped up when it had to.”
Fulbright intercepted two passes Saturday.
Missouri ran a remarkable 105 plays and had 490 total yards Saturday, but defensive end Evroy Thompson – yet another Super Friend – scored on a 28-yard fumble return off a Parker sack to give the Lobos a 21-14 lead less than a minute into the third quarter.
“I’ve never seen a defense have to play over 100 plays in a game before,” Long said. “But the defense scored a touchdown, had two interceptions and the defense stopped them at the end of the game.”
Then again, the Lobos never had seen the scoreboard look so pretty at the end of the evening on the road against a BCS school in Long’s tenure.