The UNM football team finally earned a victory outside New Mexico, holding off Hawaii University 35-23 on Saturday.
The game was the Lobos’ first win outside the Land of Enchantment since 2007, when UNM defeated SDSU 20-17.
The Warriors fought to within 5 points of the Lobos when running back John Lister scored from 1 yard out to cap a 9-play, 65-yard drive with 9:49 left in the game.
The Lobos answered with a gutsy 11-play, 75-yard and 6-minute touchdown drive of their own to end the Warriors’ hope of a comeback. On the second play of the drive, senior quarterback B.R. Holbrook hit sophomore running back Chase Clayton for a 33-yard gain to spark the Lobos’ offense. UNM sealed its first MWC victory under first-year head coach Bob Davie when Holbrook rushed for a 5-yard touchdown with 3:49 remaining.
Davie said Holbrook played valiantly even with an injured knee.
“We knew it was there, but they covered it really well; it was a good throw and good catch,” he said. “If you play man-to-man coverage, there’s a price to pay with everything. There’s a trade-off with everything.”
The victory came with a price, as freshman quarterback Cole Gautsche suffered a concussion. But Davie said Gautsche is fine after undergoing several concussion-related tests.
“Cole was pretty good,” Davie said. “I talked to the doctors this morning, and they said he’s really symptom-free. He kept his symptoms down.”
UNM jumped out to a 21-0 lead after junior running back Kasey Carrier ran for a 1-yard touchdown with 12:24 left in the first half. The Lobos’ defense stifled the Warriors early, forcing two three-and-outs and recovered a Hawaii fumble on a kickoff. UNM’s offensive game plan was executed to perfection on its first three drives, scoring touchdowns on each one.
However, before the first half ended, Hawaii found its groove and scored 10 points to pull within 11 points of UNM.
After UNM punted to start the second half, Hawaii drove down to the UNM 5-yard line but was stuffed on fourth and 1, and the Lobos took over on downs. On the third play of the drive, Gautsche extended the Lobo lead to 18, thanks to a 76-yard touchdown run with 4:52 remaining.
Hawaii came right back with a touchdown of its own on the ensuing kickoff, when cornerback Mike Edwards ran the return back 100 yards for the score, cutting the deficit back to 11.
In the fourth quarter, after Lister’s touchdown, Holbrook made his first and final rushing touchdown of the game with 3:49 remaining to clinch the victory. Holbrook finished seven of 12 for 109 yards and rushed for 15 yards on six carries.
Davie said the team’s energy came back when the Warriors (1-5, 0-3 MWC) pulled within a touchdown of the Lobos (4-3, 1-1).
“We came out of there a battered football team,” he said. “I could see the fatigue — that’s why I’m so proud of these kids. We were able to hold (Hawaii) off.”
UNM carried the football for 332 rushing yards. It was the fourth consecutive week the Lobos have tallied over 300 rushing yards and the fifth time this year. The last time UNM accomplished that was in 1972. Carrier led the team with 161 yards on the ground on a career-high 35 touches with two touchdowns.