The No. 24 Boise St. Broncos narrowly averted a upset by their unheralded host, the New Mexico Lobos, but came up with plays on offense and defense when they needed them in the fourth quarter to escape Albuquerque with a 32-29 victory Saturday night.Turnovers played a big part in the Mountain West Conference for both teams.
The Broncos used three UNM turnovers to build a 25-0 halftime lead. The Lobos countered in the second half, using a pair of BSU fumbles to vault them to 29 second half points and the near upset before 28,270 at Branch Field at University Stadium.
"It was two different games, two halves of football and two different games," said New Mexico coach Bob Davie. "The biggest reason was because of turnovers. In the first half we turned the ball over three times. We were able to move the ball, but we had no points at halftime. Defensively, we've got to keep plugging away... keep plugging away. If we don't force some turnovers, we have a hard, hard time."
Looking nothing like the team that was beaten 45-0 by Boise St. in both teams' regular season closer in 2011, New Mexico (2-3, 0-1 MWC) close to 32-29 on a touchdown run by freshman quarterback Cole Gautsche with 7:42 left in the game. The score was made possible by a 53-yard fumble return by linebacker Joe Stoner after UNM's A.J. Butler stripped the ball from Boise ball carrier Shane Williams-Rhodes on an end around the play before.On the ensuing drive, the Lobo defense allowed the Broncos into UNM territory but stiffened at the UNM 27-yard line.
Boise St. kicker Michael Frisina missed a 44-yard field goal attempt to give the Lobos two minutes of clock and at chance to at least tie the game.But the Lobos went three-and-out, with senior quarterback B.R. Holbrook pass on 4th-and-4 at the UNM 33 yard-line - the only UNM pass attempt in the entire second half -- was broken up by BSU's Tommy Smith. The Broncos were then able to run out the clock to seal the victory.Boise St. (3-1, 1-0) finished with 514 yards of total offense. Quarterback Joe Southwick sparked the Bronco offense with 311 yards on 24-of-34 passing with three touchdown sand no interceptions while Jay Ajayi racked up 118 yards rushing on six carries with one touchdown. D.J. Harper added 98 yards on 19 rushes.
Gautsche scored two touchdowns and rushed for 73 yards on 11 carries for UNM. Kasey Carrier added 93 yards on 18 carries with one touchdown. Jhurell Pressley scored a touchdown and added 58 yards as New Mexico netted 330 of its 374 offensive yards using the run.In the first half, the Broncos defense did its job forcing three first half fumbles while the offense pulled off a pair of big plays in the half to give the Broncos and advantage they never relinquished. Southwick connected on a 50-yard pass play to Dallas Burroughs down the center of the UNM defense to finish the first quarter.
Boise scored two plays later when on a 10-yard TD strike from Southwick to Chris Potter to give BSU a 10-0 advantage.Jay Ajayi broke open the game in the with 3:52 left in the half when he broke free for a 71-yard run up the middle. Ajayi scored two plays later on a 1-yard run to make the score 25-0.
New Mexico (2-3, 0-1) twice moved into Broncos territory in the first half only to fumble away the ball to extinguish the drives. On the opening drive freshman Cole Gaustche fumbled on the Boise 39-yard line to set up the Broncos' first score. Then on their best drive of the half, UNM's Lamaar Thomas fumbled the ball away on the Boise 14-yard line.
Ajayi then ran the ball 71-yards the other way on the very next play."(At halftime I told them) ‘Narrow the focus - don't think about all of the ramifications," said Davie. "'Don't think about what the final score might be. Don't think about how hardwe worked and we might not get anything out of it. Just go play the second half.'"New Mexico's second half comeback was sparked when UNM's Jeric Magnant forced Boise's Burroughs to fumble the kickoff to start the second half.The Lobos took just 6 plays to drive 26 yards and score their first touchown to make the score 25-7 in favor of Boise.On the ensuing drive, BSU drove all the way to the UNM 4-yard line but the Lobos forced Southwick to throw an incompletion on 4th-and-1 to force a turnover on downs.
The Lobos took the ball 96 yards on seven plays - including a 40-yard run by Gautsche -to score and cut the lead to 25-14 with 3:22 left in the third quarter.Boise St. drove for a touchdown on the next drive to make the score 32-14, but UNM would no go away. The Lobos put together another touchdown drive, punctuated by a 7-yard run by Gautsche to pull New Mexico to within 32-21 with 5:17 left. The Lobos forced a fumble on the next play to set up the final sequence.
"I really appreciate our team in the second half - I really appreciate the fight," saidDavie. "You're down 25-0 at halftime; they really pulled off a little bit right there at the end of the first half. Chris Peterson kind of sat on it a little bit. But the second half shows you what this (team) can be."