The Lobo football team proved once again that it does’t have to throw the ball to win games.
UNM defeated Texas State and former UNM head coach Dennis Franchione 35-14 at University Stadium on Saturday. With the victory, the Lobos (3-3) matched their total number of wins from the last three seasons.
The Lobos ran through the teeth of the Bobcats’ defense most of the night to the tune of 361 yards on 59 attempts. For the fourth game this season, UNM rushed for more than 300 yards. The last time the Lobos accomplished that feat was in 1982.
Senior quarterback B.R. Holbrook went 1-3 passing for just 9 yards, but UNM head coach Bob Davie said he’s content to keep the offense run-oriented.
“It’s pretty impressive when you can run for more than 200 yards in the first half on dives,” he said. “Right now, that’s what we are finding — a way to compete as we piecemeal this thing together.”
Junior running back Kasey Carrier led the way by gashing the Bobcat defense for 192 yards on 23 attempts and four touchdowns — all career highs for Carrier. His four scores were the most for a UNM running back in a single game since Rodney Ferguson scored four touchdowns on Oct. 18, 2008 in a 70-7 victory against SDSU.
Carrier said he knew the team would torch Texas State (2-3) because the Lobos have been able to run the football against everyone.
“Our guys up front came in with the mentality to blow open holes for the running backs, and they came out and definitely did that,” he said. “I wasn’t very surprised because we’ve been able to move the ball against every team so far. Coming into the game, we thought we could get a push against their D-line in certain situations, and that’s what happened.”
UNM reached the end zone first when Carrier went 37 yards for a touchdown with 10:49 left in the first quarter. On the ensuing kickoff, Texas State fumbled and true-freshman wide receiver Marquis Bundy ran it back to the Bobcats’ 1-yard line. Carrier walked in for a touchdown on the next play, giving the Lobos a 14-0 lead.
Davie said the fumble recovery was crucial to setting the tone of the game early on.
“That was pretty good,” he said. “We talked all week about stealing a possession.”
The Bobcats answered back when TSU quarterback Shaun Rutherford first faked an option run, then threw a 40-yard pass to senior tight end Chase Harper for a touchdown.
On the Bobcats’ next possession, they went for a fake punt pass on fourth and 1 at their own 40 yard line. However, the pass bounced off one of the Bobcats’ linemen, and Texas State turned it over on downs. UNM capitalized on the field position and went 40 yards in nine plays, capped by redshirt freshman running back Jhurell Pressley’s 1-yard touchdown to give the Lobos a 21-7 advantage.
Texas State tried to mount a comeback when Rutherford connected on another long touchdown pass, this time from 35 yards out, for the Bobcats’ second touchdown of the game, cutting the Lobo lead to seven.
UNM didn’t wait until the second half to strike back. With 3:37 remaining in the second quarter, Carrier ran for his third touchdown of the half from 19 yards out to make the score 28-14 Lobos.
On the first play of the second half, Lobo senior cornerback Destry Berry laid out for his first career interception to set up UNM at its own 38-yard line.
The Lobos marched right down the field and hit pay dirt when Carrier ran 43 yards untouched for his fourth and final touchdown of the game.
Defensively, UNM allowed only 248 total yards: 216 through the air and 32 on the ground. This is the lowest number of yards the Lobos have given up since conceding 218 to NMSU in 2008.
Berry said he thought the defense played well all game and his interception helped keep the momentum with the Lobos.
“We went into half and felt like we played pretty well,” he said. “As a defense, we wanted to force a turnover.”
UNM sacked Rutherford five times in the game, the first time UNM has recorded five sacks since 2006, in a game against UTEP.
Davie said the defense played some of its best football of the season in the second half.
“We’re still a work in progress, but to shut this team out in the second half is pretty impressive,” he said. “As the game went on, they tried to take a lot of deep shots on our secondary and I thought our secondary responded really well. And for the first time all season, I thought we started to feel some pass rush.”