Although the UNM football team has shown marked improvement this season, it has still failed to beat a team with a winning record.
On Saturday, UNM lost 31-24 to Nevada (7-4, 4-3 MWC) at University Stadium in front of an announced crowd of 17,290.
The Lobos’ four wins for the season came against Southern University (3-7), Texas State (3-7), New Mexico State (1-9) and Hawaii University (1-9). Head football coach Bob Davie said he’s frustrated by the fact that the Lobos can’t seem to beat a quality football team.
“I’ve never been around it where you can’t get it solved. We just can’t get it solved,” he said. “We’ve come a long, long way, but we’re still not good enough to win these types of games.”
Seniors Matt Raymer, left, and Joe Stoner celebrate after Raymer made a tackle against Nevada on Saturday at University Stadium. UNM’s 24 seniors have started a culture change for the Lobos.
UNM (4-8, 1-6 MWC) is now on a five-game losing streak, and junior running back Kasey Carrier said the team needs to continue to learn from each loss.
“They’ve (the losses) definitely been frustrating because we haven’t been coming out with a victory,” he said.
Trailing Nevada 31-24 with fewer than six minutes left in the game, junior linebacker Dallas Bollema picked off Nevada sophomore quarterback Cody Fajardo and ran the ball back to the Wolf Pack’s 14-yard line.
However, Bollema’s interception was all for naught. On third-and-7, sophomore running back Crusoe Gongbay fumbled and Nevada sophomore defensive tackle Jordan Hanson recovered. The Wolf Pack then ran out the clock to hand UNM a 31-24 defeat on Senior Day.
The Lobos went 2 of 11 on third down, and Davie said it was a chess match on the field.
“No matter how hard you play, no matter how much effort you give, no matter how much chemistry you have, how much discipline you have, if you don’t execute on defense and give up plays, you can’t win,” he said.
The Lobos tallied 352 rushing yards but went 0-2 passing for 0 yards. It was the first time UNM did not record any passing yards since Sept. 26, 1964, when the Lobos also completed 0 of 2 passes against Montana.
Davie said freshman Cole Gautsche isn’t developed enough as a quarterback for the Lobos to start airing it out.
“Everybody wants us to throw it a little more, but that’s really not an option right now,” Davie said.
Gautsche scored the first touchdown of the game when he rumbled 20 yards into the end zone to give the Lobos a 7-0 lead just 1:16 into the first quarter.
Nevada answered with a 12-play, 67-yard, 3:58 drive capped by junior running back Stefphon Jefferson’s 1-yard touchdown run to tie the game at 7-7 with 9:39 left in the first quarter.
The Lobos retook the lead on their next possession with Gautsche’s second touchdown of the game, this time from 3 yards out to make it 14-7.
The Wolf Pack then outscored the Lobos 14-3 to take a 21-17 advantage in the third quarter.
On the Lobos’ first offensive play of the second half, Carrier scampered 76 yards to Nevada’s 3-yard line. Three plays later, freshman halfback Jhurell Pressley scored from 2 yards out to tie the game at 24.
Nevada regained the lead on its next drive thanks to Fajardo’s third and final touchdown pass of the game, taking a 31-24 advantage with 4:02 left in the third quarter. For the game, Fajardo completed 18 of 27 passes for 133 yards, made three touchdowns and ran for 186 yards on 20 carries.
The Wolf Pack tallied 491 yards of total offense, and senior safety Matt Raymer, who totaled 12 tackles and a sack, said Fajardo was tough to contain.
“The quarterback really hurt us when he scrambled on the pass plays,” Raymer said. “He’s really fast, and he would just break free. They were a really tough offense to face.”
After receiving a UNM punt, Fajardo dropped back to pass but was intercepted by Bollema. Then on third down at Nevada’s 13-yard line, Gongbay fumbled to end UNM’s hope of a Senior Day victory.