New Mexico football didn’t quite live up to expectations as last season’s No. 1 rushing team and as Mountain Division champion. The Lobos seemed to take a major step back, suffering their seventh consecutive loss to end the season.
For the fifth time in the last seven games, New Mexico (3-9, 1-7 MW) failed to score an offensive touchdown in the first half and found itself in the familiar position of playing from behind. The Lobos were never able to mount a serious comeback and succumbed to San Diego State by a score of 35-10.
The offense showed glimpses during the season of what it was capable of — but Friday wasn’t one of them. UNM was held to a season-low 82 rushing yards — the lowest output during Bob Davie’s Lobo coaching tenure.
Punter Corey Bojorquez saw a lot of action, as the Lobos were only able to sustain one drive in the half. The lone drive that didn’t result in a three-and-out lasted 12 plays — though it only covered 32 yards — before it ultimately ended in a punt as well.
Despite scoring a touchdown on its opening drive, San Diego State (10-2, 6-2 MW) had its difficulties in the opening half as well.
The Aztecs got a big play on its first offensive possessions after running back Rashaad Penny rumbled 41 yards to get into New Mexico territory. Quarterback Christian Chapman found Kahale Warring in the red zone for a 9-yard touchdown to snag a quick 7-0 lead.
And SDSU appeared to be poised to score again, but Chapman threw an interception to junior linebacker Jordan Flack, who returned the ball into Aztec territory to set things up nicely for the UNM offense.
But despite starting the drive at the SDSU 46-yard line, the Lobos weren’t able to do anything with the ball. In fact, the team went backwards — losing yardage on the possession and being forced to kick the ball away again.
The defense held strong for the most part but relented another scoring drive as the second quarter drew to a close. With UNM trying to make a third down stop and force a field goal attempt, Penny eluded tacklers to carry the ball into the end zone for a 20-yard touchdown run for a 14-0 lead heading into the locker rooms.
SDSU scoring before the end of the half was key, as the Aztecs got the ball to start the second half as well — and they wasted little time blowing the game wide open.
The Lobos got a heavy dose of Penny, as the running back saw four straight touches to open the third quarter — culminating in a 51-yard jaunt for another touchdown to make it a 21-0 game.
Penny ended the game with 203 yards on the ground on 22 carries — the fourth straight game he eclipsed the 200-yard mark. It also put the senior at over 2,000 rushing yards for his collegiate career, running his total up to 2,027.
New Mexico caught another break after SDSU fumbled on a punt return, and Patrick Reed secured the loose ball. But the Lobos only managed a field goal after making a switch to freshman quarterback Tevaka Tuioti during the drive.
Tuioti brought the Lobos closer after he connected with Jay Griffin IV for a 62-yard catch and run to cut the deficit to 21-10 with 4:14 remaining in the third quarter, but that was as close as UNM would come.
The freshman quarterback threw two picks in the fourth quarter, while the Aztecs tacked on two touchdowns to emerge with the 35-10 win. The victory was San Diego State’s sixth straight win over New Mexico.
Friday’s loss also brought the Lobos’ winless streak to seven, with their last win back on Sept. 30 when it picked up a 56-38 win over Air Force.
The seven-game losing skid is the longest such streak since Davie took over the program, surpassing the six-game drought the team finished on to close the 2012 campaign.
Robert Maler is the sports editor for the Daily Lobo. He primarily covers basketball, football and tennis. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @Robert_Maler.