On Thursday, the University of New Mexico football team kicked off their 2021-22 season with a 27-17 win over NCAA Division I Championship subdivision opponent Houston Baptist University. After a 642-day gap for the Lobos playing at University Stadium, a large crowd welcomed their players back.
Early on in the game, the Lobos dominated the Huskies as quarterback Terry Wilson passed for two touchdowns — one to tight end Kyle Jarvis and another to wide receiver Trace Bruckler — while the defense held Houston Baptist to zero points.
Momentum swung to the Huskies in the second quarter after a 44-yard punt return by wide receiver Tyson Thompson and a 44-yard field goal by kicker Gino Garcia.
With the score at 14-10, the Lobos responded to Houston Baptist's run when Wilson hit a wide-open Keyonte Lanier (wide receiver) for a 47-yard touchdown pass, extending the lead to 21-10.
After half time, UNM’s offense sputtered but its defense thrived, holding the Huskies to another quarter of zero points. UNM added only a 30-yard field goal from kicker Andrew Shelley, which changed the lead to 24-10.
The Lobo offense continued to stumble throughout the fourth quarter, which had numerous three-and-outs and a missed field goal from placekicker George Steinkamp from 53-yards.
Meanwhile, Houston Baptist found its offensive footing as their quarterback Blaise Bentsen hit wide receiver Charles King for a 6-yard touchdown, cutting the score to 24-17.
Houston Baptist had a chance to tie the game after UNM punted the ball back to the Huskies with 3:03 left in the game, but a fumble by running back Xzavier Ford allowed Shelley to kick a 37-yard field goal that sealed the 27-17 victory.
This victory was the first for UNM at University stadium in 712 days; the last win we saw there was against New Mexico State on September 21, 2019.
After the game, head coach Danny Gonzales expressed disappointment that the Lobos weren’t able to keep Houston Baptist scoreless for four quarters rather than just two and expressed frustration about the difference in quality between the two special teams. However, he did say it’s easier to talk about mistakes after a win.
“I thought the difference in the game being so close was their punter,” Gonzales said. “I thought he did a phenomenal job and we didn’t.”
Gonzales also had hoped that UNM would’ve run the ball better than they did and revealed that starting quarterback Terry Wilson had twisted an ankle the morning of the game; however, Wilson said this wasn’t much of a problem.
The Lobos will continue training for their next game against New Mexico State University on Saturday, Sept. 11, at University Stadium.
Matthew Salcido contributed reporting to this article.
Spencer Butler is a beat reporter at the Daily Lobo. He can be contacted at email@example.com or on Twitter @SpencerButler48