Chavez's return, gritty defense spark Lobos' upset win at Wyoming - Albuquerque Journal

Chavez’s return, gritty defense spark Lobos’ upset win at Wyoming

Aaron Dumas scores a touchdown for New Mexico in its win Saturday over Wyoming in Laramie, Wyo. (Courtesy of Corie Apodaca/UNM)

Whenever the University of New Mexico is going through a losing streak, the Lobos might be smart to go to Isaiah Chavez, their gritty quarterback from Rio Rancho. He’s like that DJ Khaled song: All he does is win.

For the second straight year, UNM (3-5, 1-3 Mountain West) snapped a five-game skid with Chavez leading the way against Wyoming (4-3, 0-3). He guided the Lobos to a stunning 14-3 victory over the Cowboys, who entered as 20-point favorites, in Laramie on Saturday.

The win also snapped what was a nation-leading road-game losing streak at 16 games (UNM won twice at a neutral site last year). New Mexico State led the nation in consecutive road losses (15) going into its late Saturday game at Hawaii.

Chavez, a redshirt freshman who led the Lobos to wins over Wyoming and Fresno State last year, threw for 112 yards and one touchdown, completing 10 of his 11 passes. That is a UNM record for completion percentage, 90.9%, besting the previous mark of 80% (8-for-10).

Chavez completed his first 10 passes, including a 43-yard touchdown pass to wide-open freshman tight end Trace Bruckler on fourth-and-3. They mostly used an option offense, catching the Cowboys off guard.

“I’m sure they didn’t prepare for it,” Gonzales said. “We haven’t shown but five or six option plays all year, and all we ran (on Saturday) was triple-option stuff and some play action.”

The Lobos broke out of an offensive slump that included nine straight quarters of zero offensive touchdowns. Last week’s production of 69 yards was the least ever in a league game and the second-lowest in program history.

“Everyone likes to credit the offense just because we score, but I’m going to give it to the defense,” Chavez said. “Those guys played great. They played their tails off, kept (Wyoming) out of the end zone, only allowed a field goal. Credit to those guys. They are the ones who kept it to a 14-3 lead (after halftime).”

UNM held an MWC opponent to single-digit points for the first time since the Lobos beat San Diego State, 70-7, in 2008. Wyoming, which was shut out 17-0 last week by Fresno State, was held to 255 offensive yards Saturday. The Cowboys started Sean Chambers at quarterback, went to Levi Williams, then back to Chambers as they could not find any momentum.

Senior cornerback Corey Hightower, the Lobos’ first five-year varsity letter-winner, recorded his first career interception to end Wyoming’s first offensive drive. From there, Chavez directed a nine-play, 77-yard drive that ended with the TD pass to Bruckler.

The cameras for Stadium’s streaming production didn’t catch Chavez’s celebration, but he said he did break out the finger guns, something he became known for last year.

“They came out,” Chavez said. “Little sneaky ones. Nothing too dramatic.”

Chavez said he found out he would start on Friday. Senior Terry Wilson did not travel with the team to Laramie as he continues to recover from an elbow injury on his left non-throwing arm sustained during the fourth quarter of UNM’s 31-7 loss to San Diego State.

The Lobos are on a bye this week and host UNLV on Nov. 6.

Gonzales was asked if he will re-open the competition at quarterback if Wilson is healthy enough to play and the UNM second-year coach said; “Absolutely.”

Wilson started the first six games of the season, winning the first two against Houston Baptist and New Mexico State.

“Isaiah did a nice job today and we won,” Gonzales said. “I love Isaiah Chavez, but we’ll evaluate it during the week and see who gives us the best chance to win.”

Freshman running back Aaron Dumas also made his first start of the season and scored his first collegiate touchdown with 29 seconds left in the first half, when he ran in from 2 yards out. He rushed for 35 yards on 12 carries. Chavez led the Lobos with 49 yards rushing, while freshman wide receiver Luke Wysong had eight carries for 46 yards, part of his 65 all-purpose yards.

Redshirt freshman Cody Moon, a Volcano Vista alumnus, recovered his first career fumble during the fourth quarter.

“I just told (the Lobos) that we gotta play with heart,” Chavez said. “It doesn’t matter what the school’s history is with losing. It doesn’t matter how many games we lost. If you keep playing with heart, some things will just take care of themselves. These guys came out fired up, offense, defense and special teams. We were clicking on all cylinders.”


New Mexico 14, Wyoming 3

Associated Press

New Mexico 7 7 0 0 — 14

Wyoming 0 3 0 0 — 3

First Quarter

UNM—Bruckler 43 pass from Chavez (Shelley kick), 1:22.

Second Quarter

WYO—FG Hoyland 27, 4:30.

UNM—Dumas 2 run (Shelley kick), :29.



First downs 12 16

Total Net Yards 259 255

Rushes-yards 44-147 36-108

Passing 112 147

Punt Returns 2-18 2-1

Kickoff Returns 0-0 0-0

Interceptions Ret. 1-4 0-0

Comp-Att-Int 10-11-0 14-30-1

Sacked-Yards Lost 0-0 2-24

Punts 6-43.667 4-38.25

Fumbles-Lost 0-0 1-0

Penalties-Yards 5-45 7-40

Time of Possession 34:14 25:46



RUSHING—New Mexico, Chavez 16-49, Wysong 8-46, Dumas 12-35, B.Cole 6-10, Hall 1-5, Wooden 1-2. Wyoming, Valladay 14-41, Swen 5-27, L.Williams 5-23, Chambers 10-21, Neyor 1-(minus 2), (Team) 1-(minus 2).

PASSING—New Mexico, Chavez 10-11-0-112. Wyoming, Chambers 11-23-1-96, L.Williams 3-7-0-51.

RECEIVING—New Mexico, Scruggs 4-17, Jarvis 2-46, Wysong 2-1, Bruckler 1-43, Hall 1-5. Wyoming, Christensen 3-24, Neyor 2-45, Eberhardt 2-31, Cobbs 2-19, Valladay 2-10, Marcotte 1-6, Swen 1-6, Welch 1-6.

MISSED FIELD GOALS—New Mexico, Shelley 30.



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