Editor's Note: This article originally reported the Lobos were penalized nine times for 125 yards although the official box score recorded eight accepted penalties against UNM for 110 yards. The Daily Lobo apologizes for the error.
The University of New Mexico football team was beaten, battered and bruised in a 38-7 thumping by the Fresno State Bulldogs on Saturday evening at Dreamstyle Stadium.
In head coach Bob Davie’s assessment, it was a product of an “unpolished” offense and a culmination of unnecessary penalties.
Eight Lobo penalties — which accounted for 110 yards — didn’t help out much either, as Davie pointed out in the press conference after the game.
“That’s what a 6-1 team looks like,” Davie said of Fresno State. “And when you play a team like that, obviously you have to play…there’s not much margin for error. And we had a lot of error.”
Davie described the mistakes the Lobos made as “ sloppy” and “ undisciplined-looking” things that happened throughout the course of the game. And the Bulldogs were able to capitalize on the opportunities.
The visitors’ success came in large part as a result of a ruthless Fresno State defensive effort, which included intercepting UNM quarterback Sheriron Jones once and limiting the Lobos to just 295 yards of total offense.
FSU’s defense has held opponents to 13.5 points per game this season, a mark that continued to trend downward by holding the Lobos to seven points.
In their first two games in conference play, the Bulldogs held their opponents to just three points each. New Mexico (3-4, 1-2 Mountain West) scored a touchdown.
Fresno State had 433 yards of total offense behind its star QB Marcus McMaryion. He was a cool 20-for-30 with 280 yards and three touchdowns, as he made UNM’s secondary look clueless on more than one occasion.
“The quarterback was about flawless in his execution. So not our best performance by any imagination,” Davie said.
While UNM’s offense failed to do much in the first quarter, Fresno State slowly—but surely—got its offense into a rhythm.
On their first drive, the Bulldogs were held scoreless after a missed 42-yard field goal.
But on its next two drives, FSU produced a field goal, and then a touchdown on a 16-yard run from sophomore tailback Ronnie Rivers. That gave the Bulldogs a 10-0 lead after one quarter.
The Lobos’ offense failed to even make it past their own 35-yard line in the first quarter.
Those struggles continued into the second quarter, too. On the first drive of the frame, Zahneer Shuler, a senior tailback, was called for targeting and was ejected from the game. The Lobos, as they did in the first quarter, were stopped by FSU’s dominating defense and were forced to punt after the flag.
Then, on their second drive, the Lobos felt the force of the FSU defense once again after QB Sheriron Jones was picked off. It put the Bulldogs’ offense at the UNM 20-yard line, in position for another scoring opportunity.
After the UNM turnover, McMaryion rushed for 13 yards to the one-yard line after putting a couple of UNM players in the spin cycle, which set up a one-yard touchdown run from Rivers just two plays later.
Towards the end of the second quarter, UNM managed to put together a good drive. Jones opened up the drive with a 26-yard pass before he found junior wideout Elijah Lilly for a 16-yard touchdown pass a few plays later.
McMaryion continued to find holes in the UNM secondary. With less than a minute left, he completed a 34-yard touchdown pass to senior wideout KeeSean Johnson.
The Bulldogs entered halftime with a 24-7 lead over New Mexico.
And it was a total domination on FSU’s part, as its defense held the Lobos to just 147 yards total in the first half.
FSU opened up the second half with a drive that was a slow grind, going 14 plays and 75 yards down the field. The drive, which lasted a little over six minutes, was capped by a 15-yard touchdown pass from McMaryion, his second of the game. It put the Bulldogs up 31-7.
By the end of the first half, UNM had already accumulated six penalties, all personal. Two more personal fouls--a pass interference and an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty--only added to the Lobos’ demise when FSU opened up its second drive of the half.
McMaryion took advantage of those penalties and drove his team down the field and into the end zone once again. He capped the drive with a 23-yard touchdown pass to Rivers. The ensuing extra point made it 38-7 in favor of the visiting Bulldogs.
The Lobos were able to hold Fresno State scoreless in the fourth quarter, but at the same time weren’t able to score themselves. Fresno State went on to win the game 38-7, and improve its record to 6-1 overall and 3-0 in the Mountain West.
When asked his thoughts on Davie saying the offense was unpolished, senior wideout Delane Hart-Johnson responded: “We just got to get better. Get better each and every day. I mean, we’re gonna get it. And once we get it, we’re gonna be unstoppable.”
Matthew Narvaiz is a sports beat reporter and senior writer for the Daily Lobo. He primarily covers football but also contributes content for other sports. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @matt_narvaiz.