Even for a football team and a football program all too accustomed to reversals, this one might have been the cruelest of all.
Saturday at University Stadium, a reversal of an apparent New Mexico first down on a fourth-and-2 play in the fourth quarter effectively ended the Lobos’ hopes of springing a monumental upset.
Boise State’s wild and crazy 60-49 victory dropped UNM to 3-6 on the season, 1-4 in Mountain West play. The Broncos are 7-2 and 4-1.
Afterward, Lobos coach Bob Davie didn’t cite the reversal of the apparent first-down run by quarterback Lamar Jordan as the sole reason for the defeat. There was the little matter of the 60 points and 674 total yards rung up by Boise State, as well as a blocked punt and couple of crucial penalties.
The Lobos, who scored 42 of their points in a remarkable first half, also were hampered by the loss to an ankle injury of running back Jhurell Pressley late in the second quarter.
In the end, the Lobos’ 49 points, 505 yards rushing and 627 total yards were simply not enough.
“It was an unbelievable game,” Davie said. “We’re not good enough yet to win that kind of game.”
Even so, Davie might have liked his chances when, with UNM trailing 53-49, Jordan appeared to have gained a first down at the Boise State 49-yard line with 4:09 left in the game.
The situation was reminiscent of UNM’s game the previous week at UNLV, when the Lobos converted a crucial fourth-and-2 situation on a game-winning, fourth-quarter drive.
Not this time. Referee Jim Farmer told a pool reporter that the replay official determined Jordan’s elbow had touched the ground short of the first-down marker.
Davie said his assistant coaches in the press box didn’t believe there was sufficient evidence to overturn the call on the field. But, he added, “I’m sure it was the right call. (The officials) took a long time. They’ve got all the technology up there, all the different camera angles.
“All of us would have liked to see what happened (had the call not been reversed), but the most important thing is they make the right call, and I’m sure they did.”
Boise State then drove 49 yards for the game-clinching touchdown.
“We knew what it was gonna be,” Davie said. “But it’s just frustrating to be in position to have a chance to win a game like this and not be able to do it.”
Beyond frustrating was an apparently serious knee injury suffered by UNM star linebacker Dakota Cox during Boise State’s final drive.
“That’s devastating,” Davie said.
Devastating was a good word for the UNM running game in the first half, as the Lobos took a 42-35 lead at halftime.
“We kind of got rolling on offense,” said sophomore running back Teriyon Gipson, who finished with 205 yards on 24 carries and scored three touchdowns. “Our offensive line was dominating their D-line. We can take that as a positive and keep rolling, just go with the flow.”
In the second half, though, the Lobos managed just one touchdown and 88 yards on the ground as a 49-38 lead evaporated over the final quarter-and-a-half.
“They (the Boise State defense) didn’t change anything,” Gipson said. “It was just some plays that we could have made that we didn’t make, that we left on the field.”
The teams combined for 850 yards of total offense in the first two quarters, with UNM rushing for 417 yards on only 24 carries. Pressley and Gipson ran for 168 and 154 yards, respectively. Wide receiver Ridge Jones had a 100-yard touchdown kickoff return and a 75-yard run for a TD on an option pitch.
Yet, with all that, the Lobos settled for a mere one-touchdown halftime lead as the Broncos rushed for 197 points and passed for 223.
In a harbinger of things to come, UNM and Boise State traded long touchdowns on the game’s first two plays from scrimmage.
First, Pressley dashed up the middle for 75 yards and a TD. Then, Boise State running back Jay Ajayi went 75 yards after catching a quick hitch from quarterback Grant Hedrick.
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