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Football: After loss against rivals, Gonzales guarantees a bowl game

The University of New Mexico lost 27-17 at home against the New Mexico State Aggies on Saturday, Sept. 16. Going into the game, the Lobos were favored to win by 2.5.

Head Coach Danny Gonzales fell to a 1-2 record against the Aggies while Aggies Coach Jerry Kill advanced to 2-0.

NMSU Head Coach Kill had experienced health issues early in the week and it was called into question if he was able to coach the game. During the game, Kill was struck by a football and fell to the ground but immediately stood back up and went looking for a referee to fight for his players.

In his post-game press conference, Coach Gonzales still had unwavering confidence in the team.

"I'm going to make a bold statement right now. I guarantee that this team will be in a bowl game this year. We will find five wins from here to the Utah State game because of the players we have in that locker room – the attitude we have in that locker room," Gonzales said.

UNM was able to move the ball, putting up 401 total yards in the game – four more yards than the Aggies. The Lobos had 26 first downs in the game.

Quarterback Dylan Hopkins threw for 247 yards and one touchdown. He went 20-39 in the game with zero interceptions.

Though they were able to move downfield, Hopkins said NMSU's secondary is what kept them from finding the end zone.

"I thought their safeties got a little more depth, and from last week, they took away those long balls," Hopkins said.

Jeremiah Hixon led the team in receptions and receiving yards with five and 45 respectively. Andrew Erickson wasn't far behind with 38 yards, including a one-yard pass for a touchdown.

The Lobos had 151 rushing yards in the game. 83 of them came from Jacory Croskey-Merritt who had a one-yard rush for a touchdown. The Lobos run game slowed down in the second half, only rushing for 54 yards.

The defense slipped in the second quarter where they gave up 17 points. In the quarter, NMSU rushed for 67 yards and threw for 95. The Lobo secondary gave up a 75-yard touchdown pass for the Aggies to go back up by 10 with 10:06 remaining in the game.

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Tavian Combs led the team in tackles with eight. After the game, he stated where improvement of the secondary would come from.

"I would say it's a communication issue. We got to make sure we get those picked up and really make sure we make plays when they come through us. Coach is going to put us in a position to make those plays," Combs said.

NMSU quarterback Diego Pavia controlled the game. He threw for 203 yards and two touchdowns going 9-14. He also rushed for 96 yards in the game, presenting a dual threat for the defense.

There was another storyline present during the disappointing Lobo loss.

During the first quarter, Terance Mathis was honored on the field for entering the college football Hall of Fame. Mathis was a Lobo wide receiver during 1985-89. In his time as a Lobo, he picked up 4,254 receiving yards and 36 touchdowns. Mathis went on to play in the NFL where he is known for his time with the Atlanta Falcons, earning a pro-bowl nomination.

Coach Gonzales stressed that the loss of the game doesn't affect the destiny of the team and won't impede their path to six wins.

"I was really disappointed in the amount of people that showed up but they missed a heck of a football game. Our football team is hurting. Give them credit. They made enough plays to win the football game but there is a lot of football yet to be played. I like the trajectory of this football team. We have a lot to play for," Gonzales said.

UNM will look to get back on track in Massachusetts against UMass on Sunday, Sept. 24.

Thomas Bulger is the sports editor for the Daily Lobo. He can be contacted at or on Twitter @thomasbulger10

Thomas Bulger

 Thomas Bulger is the sports editor for the Daily Lobo. He can be contacted at or on Twitter @thomasbulger10 


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