This was the win University of New Mexico coach Danny Gonzales wanted, only it didn’t finish the way he wanted.
The Lobos’ second-year coach, who unapologetically dislikes rival New Mexico State, wanted to win going away. His team beat the Aggies 34-25 in front of an announced crowd of 28,470 at University Stadium on Saturday.
UNM did put away the Aggies with a dominating drive late in the fourth quarter. The drive didn’t end with any points, but it was enough for the Lobos, who got big games from quarterback Terry Wilson and wide receiver Mannie Logan-Greene.
The Lobos, who were a 18½-point favorite, are 2-0 for the first time since 2005, and their four-game winning streak that dates to back to two wins last season is the longest such streak since they won five straight in 2016.
“I thought we were better,” Gonzales said, when asked the reasons the Lobos won.
“We’re the better football team. I thought we made too many mistakes to win it the way we should’ve. … We didn’t execute good enough. We made way too many mistakes. In the first half we had seven penalties for 67 yards, which is way too many. We need to eliminate those and continue to get better at that, but we were the better football team tonight.”
Wilson threw for a career-high 381 yards and three touchdowns. His passing yardage is 13th in the UNM history record books for most passing yards in a game and the most for the Lobos since 2003. His previous high was 267 yards when he played for Kentucky.
“I feel like we all put it together,” Wilson said. “But at some points it felt like we were shooting ourselves in the foot. Penalties (12 for 112 yards for the game), that’s something we can’t do as an offense. You guys have seen how explosive we are. It stops us a little bit. We have to reboot. We need to get past that and stop hurting ourselves.”
Logan-Greene, like Wilson also a super senior who received an extra year due to the coronavirus-delayed and shortened 2020 season, racked up 254 yards of all-purpose yardage — 106 yards receiving and his first career touchdown, to go with 95 kickoff return yards and 53 punt return yards.
Wilson hit Logan-Greene for a 58-yard touchdown early in the fourth quarter, which proved to be the final points of the game.
The Lobos later put the Aggies (0-3) away with a 15-play, 73-yard drive that ended with NMSU stuffing UNM at the Aggie 1-yard line on fourth-and goal. It was the third time in the game that the Aggies stopped UNM on a fourth-and-short play.
However, the UNM defense stepped up after its final turnover on downs. UNM safety Jerrick Reed intercepted NMSU quarterback Dino Maldonado’s pass three plays later to stop any threat of an Aggie comeback.
Reed’s brother, Torrey Gill, is a graduate assistant on the NMSU staff and works with the Aggie wide receivers.
“I was disappointed that we didn’t win this thing going away,” Gonzales said. “We made way too many mistakes in the first half.”
The Aggies, just as they did last week against San Diego State, played a strong first half with Maldonado leading the way. The Aggie redshirt sophomore threw for 114 yards and one touchdown on 7-of-14 passing with one interception in the first half. His one touchdown went to sophomore wide receiver Isaiah Garcia-Castaneda, a 75-yard catch-and-run. That score pulled the Aggies within 21-20 with just under two minutes left in the first half.
It was a quick response — just 10 seconds after UNM wide receiver Andrew Erikson caught a 17-yard TD pass from Wilson.
Garcia-Castaneda also threw a touchdown pass earlier in the second quarter. Each of his scores helped keep the Aggies close. NMSU never led, but drew within a point once and two points twice, including 27-25 with 12:32 left when Ethan Albertson hit a 37-yard field goal.
But 31 seconds later, the Wilson-Logan-Green connection struck for the big touchdown.
(Click here for an ESPN.com link to the box score.)
SATURDAY: UNM at No. 5 Texas A&M, 11 a.m., SEC Network, 770 AM/96.3 FM