Friday, December 31, 2004
Lobos RB DonTrell Moore Has Had 3 Straight Frustrating Bowls
By Greg Archuleta
Journal Staff Writer
SAN FRANCISCO The situation was all too familiar for DonTrell Moore. The struggle to fight back tears, to utter a single word, was not.
For the third consecutive bowl game, the junior tailback on the University of New Mexico football team had a statistical performance that fell far short of his spectacular regular seasons.
Moore, a Roswell High School graduate, missed the final three quarters of UNM's 34-19 loss to Navy in Thursday's Emerald Bowl because of a knee injury.
Moore likely tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee on a pitch from quarterback Kole McKamey when Navy cornerback Vaughn Kelley dove low to tackle Moore at the same time the ball arrived.
Wide receiver Anthony Carter missed the seal block on Kelley that allowed his penetration.
Moore will have an MRI today to confirm the diagnosis by Lobos trainer David Binder.
"It sucks, man," an emotional Moore said, after 16 seconds of silence in trying to respond to a question. "Sorry, I wanted to help them (his teammates), but I couldn't."
Moore had 8 yards on five carries Thursday. He also had three receptions for 21 yards in 11 minutes of work.
In three bowl games, Moore has 37 rushing yards on 29 carries. He has surpassed 1,000 yards in each of his three regular seasons.
"I mean, he's the best running back in the Mountain West Conference," Lobos offensive coordinator Dan Dodd said. "You just don't say you take him out of the offense and it's OK. But you've got to play with the ones you have."
The Lobos, however, entered the game hoping to spread out Navy, and using Moore as a slot receiver was a giant part of their game plan. UNM hoped that would open up the inside running game for Moore and the offense to wear down the smaller Midshipmen.
Quarterback Kole McKamey tried to atone for Moore's absence. The sophomore finished with 138 rushing yards and one touchdown.
But D.D. Cox managed just 32 yards on 11 carries as the leading back for UNM, a far cry from the 108.3-yard per-game average Moore had going into the Emerald Bowl.
"It was so big because DonTrell is so multi-talented," McKamey said. "He can come out the backfield, run routes and catch balls for us, and then he's a great tackle-to-tackle runner for us."
Moore would require surgery to repair the ligament if it is torn and will require at least six months of recovery time. He'd miss 2005 spring practice for sure, and the Lobos would have to hope he'd be ready by fall camp.
After the game, Moore's teammates hurt for Moore almost as much as he was hurt.
"It's just so sad because DonTrell deserves to have a great game more than anybody," linebacker Nick Speegle said. "And he would have had a great game, but that happened and it's just terrible."
Moore was asked how much this latest setback would motivate him for his senior season.
The strain to say anything was obvious.
"A lot," he said, finally. "A lot."