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Friday, December 19, 2014

Messina follows Urlacher’s record-setting legacy

Leading linebacker leaving last season with late win

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By Laurisa Galvan / New Mexico Daily Lobo

UNM linebacker Carmen Messina tackles UNLV’s Dionza Bradford on Saturday at University Stadium. In his final home game as a Lobo, Messina finished with a game-high 14 tackles.

On Senior Night, the Lobos’ senior linebacker Carmen Messina led his team to victory and became the second Lobo to get a hundred tackles in three consecutive seasons, but he said he doesn’t care about stats.

“Shoot, if I would have had one tackle and we won, I would have been happy with that,” Messina said. “I’m just happy with the win, and I’ll worry about all those records and accolades at the end of the season.”

The other Lobo, Brian Urlacher, reached 100 tackles in the 1997, 1998 and 1999 seasons.

With time winding down, Messina made the play of the game, stripping UNLV quarterback Taylor Barnhill of the ball in UNLV territory to help set up UNM’s game-winning touchdown.

The touchdown gave the Lobos a 21-14 win over the Rebels. After the game, Messina was named player of the game with 14 tackles.

Interim head coach George Barlow said Messina comes ready to compete every game, and wasn’t surprised to see him make such an important play.

“He’s definitely a ball player,” Barlow said. “He comes to play every Saturday … I use him as an example every day of the week because what he does on Saturday is not just on Saturdays.”

Originally from Addison, Ill., Messina said his main reason for coming to UNM was to follow in Urlacher’s tracks.

“It feels great,” he said. “(Urlacher) has always been a role model. He’s one of the biggest factors as to why I came here in the first place.”

This was the seventh time this year that Messina had double-digit tackles, and it was the 25th time in his career that he accomplished that feat.

Earlier in the year Messina eclipsed the 400-tackles mark and became just the fifth Lobo to do so. He is also leading the MWC in tackles with 110 and is averaging 11 tackles per game.

Junior quarterback B.R. Holbrook said without Messina the Lobos would be a completely different team, because he is the “motor” of the Lobos.

“When (Messina) has something to say, everybody stops and listens,” Holbrook said. “Next year is going to be rough without him, and I thought he played lights out. I couldn’t be more proud of him tonight.”