Injuries are a part of the game, but unfortunately for the UNM football players, injuries lost them a victory against Fresno State on Saturday at University Stadium.
The Lobos lost their top two quarterbacks — freshman Cole Gautsche and senior B.R. Holbrook — after building a 21-0 lead with 13:32 left in the second quarter. UNM went up at halftime 24-14, but in the second half allowed Fresno to score 35 straight points en route to a 49-32 win over the Lobos.
Early in the first quarter, Gautsche suffered a neck injury when he took a hit on a 4-yard run that caused him to fumble the ball to the Bulldogs. Holbrook went out during the second quarter with a right shoulder injury after getting tossed to the ground on a 5-yard run.
Not only did the Lobos (4-5, 1-3 MW) lose Gautsche and Holbrook, they lost junior center Dillon Farrell in the first half to a shoulder injury.
Head coach Bob Davie said the offense was limited after losing both quarterbacks.
“It’s kind of your worst nightmare when you lose both guys. Once the option phase of it was really gone, they (Fresno) were pretty stout up in there,” Davie said. “They’re not like some of the teams we’ve played where you can count on running dives up in there. It hurt us losing Dillon Farrell, too.”
After junior kicker Justus Adams drilled a 26-yard field goal to put UNM up 24-7 with 3:21 remaining in the first half, the Lobos didn’t score again until senior receiver Lamaar Thomas caught a 19-yard touchdown pass from sophomore Quinton McCown with 47 seconds left in the game.
The Fresno offense was confused early and often due to UNM’s blitzes, said senior linebacker Joe Stoner, who returned a 40-yard interception for a touchdown in the first quarter to give UNM a 14-0 lead.
“We did a good job of disguising our blitzes,” he said. “Toward the end of the second quarter, they started to pick up on it. They did a good job of picking up on it.”
The Bulldogs’ high-octane offense wasn’t completely ineffectual in the second half, and took the lead for good in the third quarter on an 89-yard touchdown pass from junior quarterback Derek Carr to freshman Davante Adams to give the Bulldogs a 28-24 edge.
In the third quarter, Fresno scored three touchdowns for a 35-24 advantage heading into the fourth quarter.
Davie said he thought the Lobos didn’t react to the situation as well as they should have.
“It’s disappointing because we really did get off to a fast start,” he said. “In the end we didn’t respond to the adversity we had.”
Fresno senior running back Michael Harris scored the Bulldogs’ final touchdown on a 1-yard plunge into the end zone to cap a 52-yard, 6-play, 2:07 drive for a 49-24 lead with 6:06 left in the game.
The Bulldogs (6-3, 4-1 MW) gained 600 total yards on offense, with Carr gaining 416 yards through the air.
UNM rushed for over 300 yards for the sixth time in seven games, and junior tailback Kasey Carrier gained 138 yards on the ground to surpass the 1000-yard mark. He is the first Lobo to accomplish this feat since Rodney Ferguson in 2008.
Carrier said he and Thomas must step up because of the quarterbacks’ injuries.
“Definitely, we know now, having two quarterbacks that we need in our system go down, that me and (Thomas) have to step up in the option game,” Carrier said.