The New Mexico Lobos ran their way to an improbable 25-17 victory over the Fresno State Bulldogs on Saturday night in Fresno.
Jacory Croskey-Merritt led the way with 204 yards on 21 carries with two touchdowns. Andrew Henry would add 65 yards on 11 carries as well, as the Lobos went for 345 yards on the ground.
What was really the shocker was the UNM defense. After being one of the worst defenses in the Mountain West in yardage allowed, the Lobos rose up and allowed just 230 yards to the Bulldogs while compiling two sacks, and four tackles for loss.
Aside from the rushing output, there were two key plays that, one helped the Lobos stay in it, and the other sealed the win.
First, trailing 14-12 to Fresno State in the second half, Dylan Hopkins threw an errant pass that was intercepted by Levelle Bailey. Bailey then had a big return going on when Lobo receiver Andrew Erickson made a tremendous effort play by chasing Bailey down and knocking the ball out at the UNM 14-yard line. That fumble was recovered by DJ Washington from UNM to give the Lobos a fresh set of downs and swung the momentum back away from Fresno State.
Then, in the fourth quarter, the Lobos went on a long drive, taking up nearly half the quarter, but it was how it ended that had everyone talking. Devon Dampier, who was in relief of an injured Dylan Hopkins, had to deal with a low snap, then he picked it up and saw a Bulldog in his face as well as an open Caleb Medford. Dampier threw it up and Medford ran under it for a 33-yard touchdown catch that extended the Lobo lead to 11.
From there, it was the defense that allowed the Lobos to hold on for the huge win.
The win was UNM’s first in Fresno since 1994, and sixth in just 21 meetings between the two.
The victory is the 499th all-time for the program. The first chance to get 500 wins overall will take place against Utah State on Friday.
Quarterback Dylan Hopkins was seen on the sidelines in the fourth quarter with his right arm wrapped and with ice on it. His status will be updated as the week goes along.
Croskey-Merritt now just needs 48 yards to break the 1,000-yard barrier for the season. He would be the first Lobo running back to do so since 2016 when both Tyrone Owens and Teriyon Gipson went for over 1,000 yards each.
The Lobos will have a Friday afternoon game against Utah State. That game will kickoff at 1:30 p.m. Mountain, and will be broadcast on Fox Sports 1.