Flashback: The Lobos run roughshod on offense and, thanks to a couple of big plays on defense and special teams, hold off Air Force to take a 45-37 victory over the Falcons at University Stadium.
What went right: The Lobos (3-6 overall, 1-4 in Mountain West Conference play) executed their offense superbly: 451 yards rushing, no turnovers, just two penalties for 15 yards. They converted 5-of-10 third-down plays, 2-of-2 fourth downs and were 5-of-5 in the red zone. New Mexico’s blocking against the smallish Falcons defense was excellent, both at the point of attack and downfield, helping to spring senior running back Kasey Carrier for 179 yards rushing and quarterback Cole Gautsche for 140. The Lobos completed only one pass, but it was for a 28-yard touchdown. In a game where defensive stops were few and precious, the Lobos got one more than the Falcons did. Special teams contributed a blocked point-after, a field goal, a touchdown-saving tackle (by kicker Justus Adams) and two onside kick recoveries.
What went wrong: The UNM defense was as helpless against the Air Force offense as its Falcons counterparts were against the Lobos’ attack. Air Force scored on drives of 75, 79, 86, 74 and 71 yards, and a 15-yard Falcons chop-block penalty, not anything the UNM defense did, might have been the biggest play of the game.
Injury report: Running back Crusoe Gongbay left the game with a hip pointer, coach Bob Davie said afterward. Outside linebacker Tevin Newman left in the third quarter with an apparent leg injury. Several Lobos — Gautsche, offensive guard LaMar Bratton, defensive end Fatu Ulale, inside linebacker Dallas Bollema — came out of the game with injuries but returned.
Quoting Davie: “We’ve lost five Mountain West Conference games since I’ve been here by five points or less. We’ve lost six by seven points or less. We’ve lost seven games (overall) by eight points or less. … It’s nice to win a close game; that’s all it is.”
Next Up: Colorado State (5-5, 3-2 MWC) comes to University Stadium on Saturday for a 5 p.m. game to be telecast on ROOT Sports. The Rams routed Nevada 38-17 Saturday, as sophomore running back Kapri Bibbs rushed for a school-record 312 yards and four touchdowns.