Coach Danny Gonzales’ rebuilding project for his alma mater, the University of New Mexico, hit a new low, specifically on offense, on Saturday night when the Lobos produced 79 yards, a Mountain West Conference record for fewest yards gained in a league game.
It resulted in New Mexico’s fifth straight loss and second straight game without points from the offense. Colorado State dominated on defense and won its 11th straight game in the series, 36-7, in front of an announced attendance of 15,403 at University Stadium.
“Losing is absolutely miserable,” said Gonzales, the Lobos’ second-year coach. “We’ve been good at the places I’ve been for so long that it’s really frustrating. But it’s why I’m here. … Year two was the one that I was really concerned about. I was hoping that bringing back (super) seniors would lessen the blow. It hasn’t.”
The Lobos (2-5, 0-3 MW) went to a different quarterback — freshman CJ Montes — when senior Terry Wilson was ruled out before the game with a left, non-throwing elbow injury sustained last week.
Montes, out of Paraclete High in Lancaster, California, threw for 11 yards on 3-of-19 passing with two interceptions and a fumble in his first collegiate start. He had a string of 10 straight incompletions.
Last week, linebacker Ray Leutele provided New Mexico’s only points on a fumble return for a touchdown. This week, it was freshman Luke Wysong who provided the Lobos’ only points.
Wysong, a former Cleveland High standout, was nearly tackled and driven out of bounds at the end of his punt return, but he would not be denied to score his first collegiate touchdown.
It was just UNM’s second punt return for a TD since Aug. 30, 2002, a span of 231 games. And, it was Wysong’s first punt return for a TD, including high school.
“I knew coming here it would be a process changing it, and we’re in the process right now,” said Wysong, who led the Lobos with 152 all-purpose yards. “People from the outside may not see that, but internally it’s going to get going and once it starts clicking we’re going to be a dangerous group.”
Wysong, the Lobos’ leading receiver this season, did not have a catch, but drew a defensive pass interference penalty on a deep pass.
After Wysong’s touchdown, the Lobos trailed 13-7 with 7:47 left in the first half.
But with UNM’s offense struggling, the defense grew tired.
Colorado State (3-3, 2-1) finished with 452 total yards.
UNM had the previous MW-record low output with 83 yards in a 31-3 loss to Wyoming on Nov. 24, 2018.
The Lobos’ 79 yards of offense is not the lowest in program history. The Lobos went for 66 yards in a 47-0 loss at Texas on Sept. 17, 1988.
“We’ve gotta fix offensively an opportunity to even be competitive,” Gonzales said. “Three-of-19 throwing the ball it makes it really hard to run the ball because they can load up the box. When they outnumber you and you’re getting out-physicaled that’s a bad combination.
“We gotta do some things to give them a chance. Schematically, come up with better smoke and mirrors till we can establish something on offense. Hopefully we’ll have Terry back next week. … Hopefully he can practice Tuesday and play at Wyoming next week. If not we’ll evaluate between Isaiah (Chavez) and CJ (Montes) and see who gives us a best chance to compete.”
Montes did not finish the game. Chavez, a Rio Rancho product who led the Lobos to two wins last year, entered in the fourth quarter. He missed the first four games of the season after he sustained a concussion during the last week of preseason camp. Against Air Force on Oct. 2, Chavez began his return-to-play protocol, a process that includes minimal conditioning and activity. He did not fully practice until Oct. 7, said Gonzales, who did not feel comfortable putting Chavez in earlier in the game, but feels better about his status after another week and some action against the Rams.
“You gotta understand how hard it is to not do anything for six weeks,” Gonzales said. “He wasn’t allowed to ride a bike. He wasn’t allowed to jog. He wasn’t allowed to do anything. Then you’re going to throw a young man out there and play a football game for four quarters against a team that’s very physical? That’s not fair to the young man. And I won’t do it. I love Isaiah Chavez as much as anybody around here. But if the young man doesn’t have a chance to be successful I’m not putting him out there.”
NOTES: DonTrell Moore, the Lobos’ all-time leading rusher who is now the color analyst for games on the Lobo Radio Network, was officially inducted into the UNM Ring of Honor during the first half.
Former UNM offensive lineman Teton Saltes, a Valley High alumnus, was presented the 2020 Wuerffel Trophy by Danny Wuerffel during the first half.
Audio from Danny Gonzales, below
(Audio from Lobos Joey Noble, top, and Luke Wysong)
New Mexico at Wyoming, 1:30 p.m., 770 AM/96.3 FM, streaming on Stadium