The University of New Mexico Lobos lost 52-24 at home against the San Jose State Spartans on Saturday, Oct. 14. A disappointing second half led to a 28 point loss for the Lobos, earning them their 14th conference loss in a row.
The Lobos are now 2-4 overall and 0-2 in conference play.
Early in the game, the Lobos began to switch between senior quarterback Dylan Hopkins and freshman Devon Dampier. Dampier went in for the first time midway through the first quarter and continued to play periodically throughout the game.
Hopkins had 187 yards with no touchdowns and one interception. Dampier was five-for-six passing for 75-yards and one touchdown. Combined, the two quarterbacks went 18-for-30 for 262 yards total.
Jacory Croskey-Merritt scored his two touchdowns of the game in the first half on a seven and four yard run. By the end of the night, he rushed for 68 yards on 17 carries.
The field was colorful as UNM sported their cherry red jerseys and San Jose dawned their home yellow. When UNM played the Spartans in 2020, they were allowed to wear their home jerseys since the game was moved from Albuquerque to San Jose, so the Lobos returned the favor this year.
The only score of the first quarter was by UNM’s Luke Drzewiecki, a 41—yard field goal — his longest field goal of the season so far.
A slow start in the first quarter led to a chaotic touchdown by the Spartans at the beginning of the second quarter. UNM’s Aaron Rodriguez punted the ball only for it to be blocked at UNM’s 26-yard line, and recovered by the Spartans resulting in a touchdown. The Spartans led 7-3.
In the post-game press conference, Head Coach Danny Gonzales gave credit to the effort the Spartans put out on the field and addressed the fact that they challenged the Lobos when it came to punt returns.
“Obviously after they blocked the first one, we gotta make sure that it doesn’t get blocked,” Gonzales said. “Once again give them credit, they’ve got some athletes on that punt return team that gave us some problems.”
Following the Spartans touchdown, the Lobos were in possession of the ball for nearly eight minutes as they worked their way across the field. On a handoff by Dampier, from the seven-yard line, Croskey-Merritt rushed up the middle scoring a touchdown for UNM, putting the Lobos up 10-7.
Croskey-Merritt scored his second touchdown of the game on a creative play call – receiving a direct snap at the four-yard line with 0:31 left in the second quarter. Confused by the play, the Spartans didn’t have time to adequately stop UNM’s running back from scoring.
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Gonzales commended how the offense worked together to complete the direct snap to put the Lobos up 17-14.
“You gotta do it when the opportunity presents itself to you … Dylan did a nice job. The offensive linemen executed it. Bill (Croskey-Merritt) did a great job,” Gonzales said.
Going into halftime, the Lobos led 17-14 and yet they managed to give up 24 points to the Spartans in the third quarter.
The Spartans came out of halftime a completely different team, not only allowing the Lobos to score in the third quarter but gaining 206 yards and holding the Lobos to only 20.
Much like the week before in Wyoming, it was long plays that hurt the Lobos in the second half.
The Spartans started the second half strong with a 55-yard touchdown on a screen pass, putting the lead back in the hands of San Jose, 21-17. From that point, the game accelerated with the Spartans at the forefront.
San Jose scored on another long play – a 54-yard pass touchdown, putting them up 28-17.
After the Lobos forced a field goal, Hopkins threw an interception, allowing the Spartans to score their third touchdown of the quarter, 38-17.
The Spartans added two rushing touchdowns to their score in the final quarter, four yards and three yards respectively. San Jose was up 52-17 with 06:15 left in the game.
It wasn’t until the end of the final quarter that UNM managed to cut the Spartans 35 — point lead to 28 with a 21-yard passing touchdown to DJ Washington from Dampier, 24-52.
The Spartans had five plays of 50 or more yards, ultimately securing their domination of the Lobos at University field.
Gonzales is confident that his team has what it takes to play in a competitive ball game, they just have to work for it.
“They’re frustrated with losing, they’re frustrated with having the early success,” Gonzales said. “We obviously have enough talent to compete and be competitive and be in it.”
The Lobos will be on the field Oct. 21 against the University of Hawaii Rainbow Warriors for UNM’s homecoming game.
Francesca Cicconetti is a beat reporter at the Daily Lobo. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @fran_cicconetti.
Francesca Cicconetti is a freelance reporter at the Daily Lobo. She can be reached on Twitter @fran_cicconetti