Over 14,000 people witnessed the Lobos football team’s devastating 31-17 loss to the previously winless University of Nevada, Las Vegas at University Stadium on Nov. 6. The Rebels’ win ended their 14-game losing streak, which had just become the longest in the nation earlier that day, and handed the Lobos their biggest setback of the season.
Led once again by quarterback Isaiah Chavez, starting in place of the still-injured Terry Wilson, the Lobos went 91 yards on 10 plays and scored a touchdown on a one-yard reception by wide receiver Trace Bruckler at the start of the game.
Up 0-7, UNM forced a punt by UNLV on their opening possession and looked to extend their lead. The Lobos turned the ball over on downs after the Rebels’ defense held but UNLV didn’t capitalize on the turnover and had to punt once again.
The first sign of disaster happened in the next series, when Chavez fumbled the ball and set up UNLV with a short field. As Chavez was leaving the field, his limp indicated that he had sustained an ankle injury.
The Rebels then scored on a four-yard touchdown run by Charles Williams, who became the all-time leading rusher for UNLV during the contest.
With the score tied 7-7, UNM needed to find some offensive rhythm, but more bad news struck as Chavez, who was back on the field momentarily, once again fumbled the ball and gave the Rebels another short field. This was the last play for Chavez, as he was pulled due to his injury.
After another touchdown by UNLV that brought the score to 14-7, the Lobos needed a solution for their offensive struggles. The initial response came from a 75-yard touchdown run by Lobos running back Bobby Cole, which evened the score and flipped the momentum back toward UNM.
This new momentum didn’t last long, as UNLV quarterback Cameron Friel threw a 75-yard touchdown strike to Kyle Williams. Substitute Lobos quarterback C.J. Montes took over for Chavez with a strong 10-play, 71-yard drive that resulted in a field goal.
The score was 21-17 at the end of the first half, and the Lobos didn’t score any more points for the remainder of the game. UNLV added a field goal and a touchdown drive in the second half, which resulted in the final score of 31-17.
Montes ended the game with only 28 passing yards, and the Lobos gave up eight sacks, seven of those on Montes. Throughout the game, the UNM offensive line struggled to give their freshman quarterback any time to pass the ball.
While the Lobos were able to run the ball effectively at points and had 260 rushing yards, the offense was only able to muster 38 total yards in the second half of play.
After the game, Lobos head coach Danny Gonzales said his team is too reliant on rushing.
“We’re a one-dimensional football team on offense because we can’t throw it very well,” Gonzales said. “Over the course of the next couple of years, we’re going to have to develop the ability to throw the football so that they can’t load up the box.”
Gonzales said his team went into the game expecting to win and were disappointed in the final result.
“Last time that happened, it took us five weeks to overcome it,” Gonzales said. “So it’s a growing moment for this program — how fast can we get over it.”
Chavez will be reevaluated for his injury later in the week, according to Gonzales; for the time being, Wilson is still out with his dislocated elbow with no definitive timeframe for return.
UNM is now 3-6 overall and only 1-4 in conference play. For their next game on Nov. 13, they will be tested against the 7-3 California State University, Fresno.
Spencer Butler is a beat reporter at the Daily Lobo. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @SpencerButler48