Interim head football coach George Barlow won’t be leaving UNM without a win.

On Saturday, the Lobos beat the UNLV Rebels 21-14 with a game-winning touchdown run late in the fourth quarter.

“I’m definitely more excited for the kids,” Barlow said. “They’ve never quit working. It says a lot about the character of these kids. I’ve won national championships and won a lot of big games, but this game here was as big as any, because I was as proud of them as any team I’ve ever coached.”

UNM linebacker Carmen Messina led the seniors with 14 tackles. He said the Lobos sported pink on their jerseys and jokingly said that was why they won.

“It feels great to know that we’re not going to go winless this season,” he said. “It feels great to celebrate with our fans. I think we should wear pink more often, because we’re undefeated when we wear pink.”

With 1:58 left in the game, the score tied at 14, Messina stripped the ball from UNLV quarterback Taylor Barnhill, to be recovered by UNM senior defensive end Jaymar Latchison.

The offense marched 34 yards down the field in the next three plays, and sophomore running back Demarcus Rogers put the ball in the end zone on a 2-yard run to make the score 21-14, sealing the win for the Lobos.

The fumble didn’t happen by accident: it was a move the defense had been working on all week.

“Creating turnovers was definitely an emphasis this week, and they did a good job of trying to strip at it most of the game,” Barlow said. “Finally, it came out when we needed it the most.”

The Lobos started strong Saturday. Junior quarterback B.R. Holbrook threw an 80-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Deon Long on the first play from the line of scrimmage.

UNLV running back Dionza Bradford scored on the first drive of the game from a 45-yard touchdown run, to even up the score at seven.

Rogers scored on a 1-yard touchdown run with 32 seconds left in the first quarter, to put the Lobos back on top 14-7.

Neither team scored during the second and third quarters. UNLV scored early in the fourth quarter after a 4-yarder by Tim Cornett, to tie the score at 14.

It would be the Rebels’ last score of the game, as the Lobos held on to win their first game of the season.

Barlow said the game was a needed win.

“We were looking for ways to start fast and start with some confidence,” Barlow said. “It’s important when you have a young team to give them some confidence early.”