Terry Wilson threw three first half touchdown passes, and the New Mexico defense forced two late turnovers to help propel the Lobos to a 27-17 win over Houston Baptist Thursday night in the season opener for both squads.
The Lobos built a ton of momentum early in the contest, intercepting Houston Baptist quarterback Blaise Bentsen on the Huskies opening possession. New Mexico quickly turned that turnover into points as Wilson found Kyle Jarvis from 11-yards out to put the Lobos up 7-0.
After the UNM defense forced Houston Baptist into a three-and-out, the Lobos offense drove 74-yards for another touchdown, this one a Terry Wilson touchdown pass to Trace Bruckler from four yards out. That gave New Mexico a 14-0 lead with 8:16 left to play in the first quarter.
The score was still 14-0 in the second quarter when Tyson Thompson of Houston Baptist returned a UNM punt 44 yards for a touchdown to close the gap to 14-7. After both teams traded punts, the Huskies cut it to 14-10 on a 44-yard Gino Garcia field goal.
On the ensuing UNM drive, Wilson fired his third touchdown pass, this one went to Keyonta Lanier from 47 yards out. That made the score 21-10 in favor of New Mexico.
Midway through the third quarter UNM extended their lead with a 30-yard field goal from Andrew Shelley that pushed the lead to 24-10. After that, the Lobos offense became stagnant.
After a couple of punts in the fourth quarter, Houston Baptist found the endzone as Bentsen hit Charles King from six yards out to cut the lead to 24-17. New Mexico quickly went three-and-out on their next drive giving the Huskies a chance to tie.
That chance fell by the wayside on the first play of the drive, though, as Bentsen’s pitch to Dreshawn Minnieweather resulted in a fumble which the Lobos recovered. UNM took the ensuing drive to the Houston Baptist 20-yard line, where Andrew Shelley knocked through another field goal, this one from 37 yards away, giving UNM a 27-17 lead.
The following Houston Baptist drive looked promising, as the Huskies drove to midfield. The Lobos defense would come up big again as Tavian Combs intercepted a pass by Bentsen at the UNM 19-yard line to seal the victory.
Early on it appeared as though UNM was going to run away with the contest. The defense forced a turnover on the opening Houston Baptist possession and quickly turned that into points. The Lobos struck again on their next drive too, and with a 14-0 lead appeared headed for an easy win.
Then something happened. Outside of Wilson’s third touchdown pass of the game, the play calling seemed to go conservative, and didn’t challenge the Houston Baptist defense at all. Which is somewhat concerning giving that New Mexico State and Texas A&M are on the horizon. This feels like the Lobos were working out kinks from their offense, which is what a game like this was scheduled for. Nonetheless, fans are going to want to see continued creativity that we saw on the first two drives Thursday night.
The defense played solidly; able to force three Houston Baptist turnovers, also ending with five sacks and allowing just 10 offensive point to HBU, the defense lived up to their billing of a Rocky Long defense. That is something that is a great sign for UNM, especially if the offense continues to sputter.
The Lobos have a couple of extra days to prepare for their next contest, which will be the renewal of the Rio Grande Rivalry versus New Mexico State next Saturday, the 11th, in Albuquerque. The Lobos have now won three consecutive games dating back to last season. The last time that the Lobos won three games in a row was to end the 2016 season and the beginning of the 2017 season. The Lobos looked pretty good for game one, let’s see if they can continue that in week two.