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Lobos Win Opener 39-31 over Sam Houston State

(8/31/2019) Football vs. Sam Houston StateBox Score | 2019 Season Statistics | Purchase Photos via Lobo Photo Store

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. —The University of New Mexico got a pair of second half touchdowns from Sheriron Jones and then staved off a late comeback attempt with a fourth down sack by Jacobi Hearn as the Lobos defeated Sam Houston State, the No. 22 team in the FCS, 39-31 in front of 13,749 fans at Dreamstyle Stadium.
After the game, UNM’s postgame press conference was canceled after head coach Bob Davie needed medical attention after meeting with his team.  Director of Athletics Eddie Nuñez released the following statement.
“Immediately following tonight’s football game between The University of New Mexico and Sam Houston State University, Lobo Head Coach Bob Davie was taken to the hospital as a result of what appeared to be a serious medical incident.  The University will release more information as it becomes available.  We ask that you keep the Davie family in your prayers.”
The Lobos are idle next week and then head to Notre Dame on Saturday, September 14. 
UNM led for most of the game as starting quarterback Brandt Hughes threw for 218 yards in the first half.  Hughes led UNM to a pair of touchdowns by Ahmari Davis on the ground and three Andrew Shelley field goals, but he suffered a shoulder injury and gave way to Jones in the second half.

Jones, who started seven games last year, entered with UNM down 23-22 after the Bearkats took the opening second half kickoff and went 75 yards in seven plays for what amounted to SHSU’s only lead of the game.  After a quick three-and-out, UNM got the ball right back and Jones went to work.  Anu Somoye made a ridiculous grab near the Bearkat sideline, one of a career-high three catches, to put UNM in Sam Houston territory.  Jones then found Aaron Molina twice to get UNM inside the five, but UNM had to settle for a fourth Shelley field goal, giving UNM the lead for good at 25-23.
Jones than gave UNM a 16-point lead with back-to-back touchdowns.  After he hit Jordan Kress for 47 yards, Jones rushed to 10 and then 11 to make it 32-23.  Sam Houston State punted, Davis rushed 53 yards to the Bearkat seven.  Jones then raced to the pylon on the next play for his second career touchdown.  That made it 39-23, and then UNM had to deal with Sam Houston State’s late comeback attempt.
Down 16, the Bearkats mounted a long, 86-yard touchdown drive that took 12 plays and culminated with a Donovan Williams 4-yard run.  Sam Houston went for two and got it, making the score 39-31 with just 3:01 to go.  Sam Houston State then hit a little dribble kick and kicker Connor Crow recovered to give the Bearkats a chance.  A trick play moved the ball to the Lobo 22, but UNM’s defense held firm from there.  Alexander “Moana” Vainikolo and Adebayo Soremekun teamed up for a four-yard loss, and then after an interception Patrick Peek delivered another tackle for loss to make it 4th and 15.  JUCO transfer than clinched a victory with a backside sack of quarterback Ty Brock, and UNM took three knees to end the game.
The Lobos picked up 485 yards of offense on 72 plays, averaging 6.7 yards per play.  UNM also had plenty of big plays with eight of 25 yards or more.  Sam Houston outgained UNM with 558 yards, but it needed 95 plays to do it.  UNM had a solid pass rush with three sacks and six hurries.

NOTE:  After the game, the Davie family has released the following statement:  “On behalf of the Davie family, we would like to thank everyone for their thoughts and prayers. Coach Davie is doing well and recovering, he is surrounded by family and your continued thoughts, prayers, and privacy are greatly appreciated during this time.”

Postgame Notes:  New Mexico 39, Sam Houston State 31
This was the 2nd meeting between the two teams.
The series is now tied 1-1
The series is now tied 1-1 in Albuquerque
Starting lineup changes for UNM from published two-deep
Offense: None.  Brandt Hughes started at quarterback and Elijah Lilly was the Lobo receiver who didn’t start.
Defense: None
*New Mexico’s captains were Alex Hart, Aaron Blackwell, Kyle Stapley and Trent Sellers
*Reece Wilkinson carried the New Mexico flag onto the field as the New Mexico Man.  It was his first career honor.
*Sam Houston State won the toss and deferred.
*New Mexico has now won five straight season openers, and Bob Davie is now 6-2 in season openers.
*The temperature at kickoff was 97 degrees. It marked the warmest opening kickoff in Lobo history, topping the 95 degrees in 1985 against Texas Tech in Lubbock (which incidentally was not the Double T tragedy game).  The warmest opening kickoff previously for a season that started at home was 92 degrees in both 2012 (Southern in Bob Davie’s first game) and 2013 (UTSA).
*After three quarters, both teams had the same passing yardage, with 329.
*UNM’s four rushing touchdowns marked the first time rushing for at least four since rushing for five at New Mexico State on September 15, 2018.
*Ahmari Davis caught a 51-yard pass in the first quarter.  His previous career long catch was for -2 yards in last year’s opener against Incarnate Word.  Davis had two rushing touchdowns, giving him six in his career.
*Davis finished with 107 yards, his first career 100-yard game. 
*UNM’s first points of the year came on a 44-yard field goal by Andrew Shelley.  Shelley hit four field goals in the game.  Last year UNM didn’t even attempt a field goal until game four and it didn’t attempt its fourth until game eight.  UNM attempted eight field goals all last season.
*Shelley’s four field goals were tied for the fourth-most in school history, and they were the most since 2008 when James Aho hit five against Arizona.
*Trent Sellers recorded the first fumble recovery of his career, and it led to a Lobo field goal.
*Brandt Hughes started at quarterback but was injured and did not start the second half, giving way to Sheriron Jones.
*Sheriron Jones scored his first career rushing touchdown with 1:02 left in the third quarter to give UNM a 32-23 lead.  He ended up with two.  Previously, Jones had only scored on a two-point conversion.
*Somoye’s 62 yards receiving were a career high and nearly half of his career total entering the game, which was 141.
*Tyson Dyer averaged 46.8 yards on nine punts, including a59-yarder the went out of bounds at the 2-yard line.
*De’John Rogers took over the punt returning role and averaged 9.4 yards on five returns.
*Donovan Murphree, a freshman walk-on, made his debut as UNM’s kickoff specialist, and had seven touchbacks on nine kickoffs.