The New Mexico Lobos got off to a fast start but it was the finishing kick of the Fresno State Bulldogs that decided the match up as FSU scored 21 third quarter points to defeat UNM 49-32 Saturday afternoon before 19,856 on Branch Field at University Stadium in Albuquerque.
The Bulldogs (6-1, 3-1 Mountain West) racked up 600 yards of total offense, mostly in the third quarter, and senior quarterback Derek Carr threw for 416 yards on 31-of-44 passing with four touchdown passes and one interception on the day.
Carr threw passes of 7, 7, 21 and 89 yards in leading Fresno State back from a 21-0 deficit early in the second quarter.
"I think offensively we had some matchups that we took advantage of this road game," said Bulldogs’ first-year coach Tim DeRuyter. "Once we did that we tried to help guys on the perimeter then our running game opened up. I think offensively our guys do a really good job of analyzing what we are seeing personnel wise to get matchups. Obviously, we have some guys who have talent and make plays."
First year Lobo head coach Bob Davie had nothing but praise for Fresno State, which became bowl eligible for the first time in two season with the win.
"I tell you what, anybody that plays them, they are talented," said Davie after the game. "It was a chess game. At the beginning we had him (Carr) confused a little bit and then he got settled in and made adjustments and they're talented. But we saw it, if our offense against a team like that can't control the ball and make first downs we're going to struggle, and when you have no option to go to, they sat on us pretty good. They deserve all the credit they came back, on the road, and beat us."
New Mexico got the scoring going just four minuets in the game when Kasey Carrier scored his first of two touchdown runs with a 7-yard run to give UNM a 7-0 lead. Carrier, who rushed for 138 yards on 19 carriers, scored on a 30-yard run less than two minutes into the second quarter to give UNM a 21-0 lead.
Carrier’s second touchdown came on the heels of 40-yard interception by Joe Stoner that gave the New Mexico a 14-0 lead.
But the Lobos’ lead came at a price as they lost starting quarterback Cole Gautsche left the game after suffering a neck injury, starting center Dillon Farrell left with a stinger in his left arm and back up quarterback B.R. Holrbook was knocked out with a separated shoulder.
The Bulldogs took advantage and Carr was able to cut the lead to 24-14 by halftime before taking over completely in the third quarter. DeRuyter said he encouraged his team at halftime, telling them ‘Don't panic, just do what we do and you'll be fine.’
"We have a team of high-character guys that don't point fingers," said DeRuyter. "They will find a way. Our coaches do a good job of making changes on the sideline and explaining it in clear language to our guys. Tackling is a sign of football and early on we didn't do it. You have to give them credit for scheming things up that gave our guys some issues."
Fresno scored 35 unanswered points in the second half before New Mexico was able to add a touchdown in the final minutes of the game.
Davante Adams had 198 yards receiving on nine catches including the 89-yard touchdown pass that gave Fresno State the lead in the third quarter. Robbie Rouse led the Bulldogs with 120 yards rushing on 18 carries and one touchdown.
"There was a momentum shift," said DeRuyter said. "We talked to our guys and tell them that we needed to come out strong. I thought we handled it pretty well. Our defense was getting off the field and our offense was scoring. You have to put it in perspective, too, though. They were down in the third quarter and they had to do some wildcat and other things that are tough on them."
New Mexico gained 349 of its 394 total yards of offense running the ball. By contrast, Fresno St. gained 416 of its 600 yards passing, gaining 184 yards on the ground and