Lobos Lose at Liberty 17-10
LYNCHBURG, Va. — After a wild offensive affair just a week ago, offense was at a premium on Saturday in Lynchburg, Virginia, and the Liberty Flames had just enough of it to top New Mexico 17-10 in front of 17,101 fans at Williams Stadium. The loss dropped UNM to 2-2 on the season, and it denied UNM its first 3-1 start in 12 years.
The Lobos looked to get on the board first after the defense turned in a fourth-down stop inside of Liberty territory, but Tevaka Tuioti, threw an interception (one of two) in the end zone on third down, ending UNM’s scoring threat. UNM’s defense held firm, bending but not really breaking, allowing just an Antonio Gandy-Golden touchdown on the final play of the first quarter, and a late play-action touchdown pass near the end of the second quarter.
Golden’s first score came after a 51-yard catch set up the Flames inside the 10, and he caught a short 3-yard pass from Buckshot Calvert two plays later. Liberty’s only other touchdown came after another long pass play set up Liberty inside the five, and this time Calvert threw a 2-yard pass with just 23 seconds left in the half.
UNM got a huge red zone stop early in the second quarter down 7-3 when Erin Austin chased down Liberty quarterback Buckshot Calvert as he was at the one-yard line and forced a fumble into the end zone, which was recovered by De’John Rogers for a touchback.
The Lobos got on the board on the strength of a season-long 52-yard field goal by Andrew Shelley, who got the kick-off after Tyson Dyer handled a low snap. The field goal was tied for the sixth-longest in UNM history. It wasn’t the only big play for Dyer, who time and again punted UNM out of trouble, averaging 47.8 yards per punt, punting five times and pinning Liberty inside the 20 all five times.
UNM was down 17-3 after a field goal and drove inside the Liberty 45, but a pass form Tuioti to Anselem Umeh was high, and UNM had to punt. After a missed field goal, UNM again drove down the field, but Tuioti overthrew Jay Griffin IV for a second interception. UNM’s defense continued to hold, giving UNM a chance to get back in the game, and UNM drove inside the 15-yard line but on fourth down from the 10 yards line needing eight yards for a first down, Tuioti rushed and got seven-and-half yards, turning the ball over on downs at the Liberty 3-yard line.
UNM eventually got the ball back in the final minutes and went the length of the field, with Tuioti hitting Aaron Molina for a 14-yard touchdown with 43 seconds left to make it 17-10. UNM than attempted an onside kick and the ball hung tantalizingly in the air but just before Jordan Kress could snag it, a Liberty receiver snatched it first to seal the game.
The Lobos now flip coasts on a short week to open conference play at San Jose State.
— New Mexico Football (@UNMLoboFB) September 29, 2019
Postgame Notes: Liberty 17, New Mexico 10
This was the second meeting between the two teams.
Liberty now leads series 2-0
Liberty now leads 1-0 in Lynchburg
Liberty leads 1-0 in Albuquerque
Liberty has now won two in a row in the series
Liberty has now won one in a row in Lynchburg
Starting lineup changes for UNM from published two-deep
Offense: No changes on offense.
Defense: Dylan Horton started at Rush for Jacobi Hearn. Erin Austin started at defensive end for Adebayo Soremekun, Nahje Flowers started at nose tackle for Ben Gansallo.
*New Mexico’s captains were Alex Hart, Kyle Stapley and Trent Sellers
*New Mexico won the toss and elected to defer. UNM kicked off defending the South goal. UNM is now 2-2 on the coin toss.
*UNM’s defense held after the Lobos turned the ball over on an interception, the first time this season that UNM didn’t allow a touchdown or a score after a turnover.
*Liberty recorded a sack with 12:48 left in the second quarter, making UNM’s offense the last in the nation to allow a sack this year.
*UNM has now thrown six interceptions on the season, and UNM has not won the turnover battle since week one.
*UNM has now been 2-2 in each of the last five seasons, and the team missed a shot at its first 3-1 start since the 2007 season.
*UNM recorded a season low in yards and points.
*UNM’s defense allowed just 17 points, the second fewest in the last 22 games, and it ended a string of 10 straight games allowing at least 20 points.
*Andrew Shelley’s 52-yard field goal in the second quarter was his longest of the season, and it made him 5-for-5 this season from beyond 40 yards. It also tied for the sixth-longest field goal in school history. The kick was one yard short of his career-long of 53 against Utah State on the road last year.
*Tyson Dyer averaged 47.8 yards per punt on five punts, and he pinned all five inside the 20-yard line. Dyer pinned Liberty at the 15, 13, 18, 8 ad 10-yard lines.
*Emmanuel Logan-Greene made his first catch as a Lobo on the four-yard catch in the third quarter.
*Jerrick Reed II had a career-high 10 tackles.
*Alex Hart recorded a team-best 2.5 tackles for loss and a pass break-up.
*One week after allowing just three tackles for loss, UNM’s offense allowed just four.