The University of New Mexico football team needed a miracle at Boise State, but instead the Lobos got a nightmare in the form of two Broncos blocked punts returned for touchdowns and more UNM injuries on Saturday night.
The Lobos had the compelling, made-for-movie type story in backup quarterback Bryson Carroll, who had been a student manager this season, but BSU finished with a 37-0 victory in front of an announced crowd of 28,452.
UNM (3-8, 1-6 Mountain West Conference) has struggled on offense this season, especially after injuries to senior quarterback Terry Wilson (elbow), Mannie Logan-Greene (chest) and Trae Hall (ankle).
On back-to-back plays early in the second quarter against BSU, UNM running back Bobby Cole and redshirt freshman quarterback Isaiah Chavez sustained leg injuries. Chavez was later carted off while wearing a boot and wincing in pain. That led to the Lobos to turn to the 5-foot-6 Carroll, a 22-year-old redshirt senior who was recruited as an option quarterback.
Carroll made a few plays, including an 18-yard run. That’s pretty impressive as it was his first time in a game since 2019. But he couldn’t help the Lobos avoid their second shutout of the season. In addition, it was the fourth time this season the UNM offense was shut out. It was Boise State’s first shutout in six years.
The Lobos also used backup quarterback Connor Genal, a walk-on redshirt sophomore, on passing situations.
UNM coach Danny Gonzales’ record fell to 5-13. In his 18 games, he’s had seven different quarterbacks to start a game. With the injury to Chavez there will most likely be another different quarterback start in the season finale aginst visiting Utah State on Friday.
After the game, Gonzales said in a virtual press conference that he challenged the team.
“I told them, ‘If you don’t believe in what I’m doing then quit; don’t show up’,” Gonzales said. “I fully expect them to show up.”
Boise State (7-4, 5-2) put the game out of reach by building a 24-0 halftime lead that featured two blocked punts recovered for touchdowns and a crazy touchdown reception with no time remaining in the half.
The Lobos endured a rough start with their offense going three and out after Boise State had won the coin toss and deferred since UNM has been struggling on offense this season.
On its first punt, UNM’s Aaron Rodriguez had his kick blocked by Kekaula Kaniho and recovered by Tyreque Jones, who ran it in from six yards out for the touchdown and a 7-0 Boise State lead.
The Broncos’ second blocked punt gave them a 17-0 lead. Alexander Teubner blocked it and Dylan Herberg recovered it for a 6-yard return.
Things got wacky late in the second quarter.
Genal was called for a fumble when he was sacked, a play that was reviewed. During the review, Fox Sports 1 announcer Petros Papadakis and former referee Dean Blandino both said it appeared that Genal threw an incomplete pass. But Boise State took advantage of a fortunate call.
A couple plays later, Boise State wide receiver Khalil Shakir got behind the defense for a 56-yard touchdown reception from quarterback Hank Bachmeier with no time remaining in the first half.
UNM’s defense had been playing at a high level before Shakir’s touchdown, producing a three-and-out, an interception and a turnover-on-downs.
With the Broncos driving, and at the UNM 15-yard line, with a little under six minutes left in the first half, the Lobo defense came up with a big turnover.
Redshirt freshman safety Tavian Combs tipped a Bachmeier pass high into the air and cornerback Donte Martin came down with it.
But UNM’s offense couldn’t do much with it, gaining just 21 of the 46 offensive yards it had in the first half.
Shakir finished with 116 yards and the TD on seven catches. Running back George Holani led Boise State with 114 rushing yards on 14 carries.
The Broncos beat UNM for the fifth straight time and improved to 11-1 in the series.