Junior running back Kasey Carrier set a single season record for rushing yards and senior quarterback B.R. Holbrook threw for the most passing yards by a UNM quarterback this season but the New Mexico Lobos were unable to parlay the individual achievements into a win, falling to the Colorado St. Rams 24-20 Saturday night before 12,286 at Sonny Lubick Field at Hughes Stadium in Ft. Collins, Colo.
Carrier gained 59 yards on 16 carries to move past DonTrell Moore as the single-season rushing leader in UNM history with 1,469 yards on the season.
"I'm really happy for Kasey," said UNM head coach Bob Davie. "Really, there were no easy yards tonight. It's really amazing that this team can have the all-time leading rusher (season) at New Mexico and end up (fifth) in the nation in rushing."
Holbrook had a season-high 205 passing yards on 12 of 21 passing with no interceptions and one touchdown pass.
"I thought B.R. would play well tonight," said Davie. "He was able to come back and on the final play of his career he almost had a chance to have a magical moment."
The game came down to two final drives and three successful stops by the Rams defense as they kept the Lobos out of the end zone on their final drive of the fourth quarter.
Kevin Pierre-Louis tipping away a third-down desperation pass by Holbrook pass in end CSU zone to end the game after UNM marched from its own 25 yard line to the Rams’ 16-yard line with 17 seconds left.
"It's really kind of the same story. It's exactly the same story," said UNM head coach Bob Davie. "We had the ball at the end with a chance to win it or tie it."
New Mexico (4-9, 1-7 MWC) has had the ball with a chance to win late in the fourth quarter in five MWC games this season but was unable to get the win in each case.
The Lobos had taken their first lead of the game at 20-17 with 3:12 left in the fourth quarter on a 55-yard touchdown pass from Holbrook to running back Jhurell Pressley. The drive came after a fourth-down stop by the UNM defense.
But Colorado State (4-8, 3-5) drove 76 yards on 7 plays to take the lead back on a 30-yard touchdown pass from Conner Smith to Joe Hansley to give CSU a 24-20 lead with just 1:29 left in the game.
The Lobo defense had a chance to win the game in the final two minutes of play with CSU facing a fourth-and-two on the CSU 49-yard line, but running back Chris Nwoke ran for six yards to get a first down. Two plays later the Rams scored to win the game.
New Mexico fell into a 14-0 hole in the first quarter as Smith finished a 6-play, 75 yard drive with a 29 yard pass to Hansley to give CSU a 7-0 lead 12:18 into the first quarter, Donnell Alexander made the score 14-0 just under six minutes later on a 3-yard run that capped a 9-play, 61 yard drive.
UNM got on the board just before the end of the first quarter on a 1-yard TD run by Carrier set up by an interception by Dallas Bollema that gave the Lobos the ball at the CSU 3 yard line. Colorado St. added a 48-yard Jared Roberts field goal in the second quarter to take a 17-7 halftime lead.
Justus Adams kicked a 38-yard field goal in the third quarter to cut the CSU lead to 17-10 then added a 30-yard kick in the fourth quarter to further cut the Rams’ lead to 17-13.
The Rams had 253 total yards in the first half to 58 for the Lobos as Colorado St. would outgain New Mexico 413 to 342 in total yards. The Rams just outgained UNM 159 to 137 yards with Alexander rushing for 112 yards on 24 carries and one touchdown. Smith finished with 254 yards passing on 19 of 26 passing with one interception and two touchdown passes. Cole Gautsche added 44 yards on 10 carries for New Mexico.