Big Second Half Propels Air Force Past UNM 44-22
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(11/23/2019) Football vs. Air ForceALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — New Mexico, already short-handed, lost a few more players, and Air Force’s air attack stunned UNM, as the Falcons threw for 327 yards and four touchdowns on just nine completions as they turned a close one into a runaway, winning 44-22 at Dreamstyle Stadium. The win was Air Force’s first in four tries in Albuquerque, and it propelled them to 9-2 and 6-1 in conference play. UNM dropped its eighth in a row, falling to 2-9 overall and 0-7 in the Mountain West.
The game was close through three quarters, and UNM’s already thin numbers suffered a catastrophic injury when starting quarter Tevaka Tuioti went down with a hamstring injury, necessitating freshman Trae Hall into the game. Hall, who had played just two series in two years, was stellar, going 5-for-7 for 55 yards and a pair of touchdowns. He hooked up on his first drive with Jordan Kress for a 31-yard touchdown on his first collegiate throw, putting UNM down 21-16 with 5:24 left in the third quarter, but a bizarre play turned the momentum around quickly.
Andrew Shelley’s extra point was low, and it careened off of the helmet of lineman David Zavala and away from everyone, where Milton Bugg III of Air Force grabbed it and used a convoy for a defensive two-point conversion, the first ever scored against UNM, making it 23-16.
— New Mexico Football (@UNMLoboFB) November 23, 2019
From there, it was the Air Force passing game that took over. Darrell Hammond III hit Benjamin Waters for a 59-yard touchdown, then in the fourth quarter he hit Garaud Sanders from 27 yards out and then Waters against from 76 yards, and midway through the fourth, it was 44-16.
Hall got UNM back on the board one more time, leading a 10-play, 77-yard drive, capping it off with a 27-yard pass to Aaron Molina to account for the final score.
The game started out perfectly for UNM with Tuioti leading UNM on a time-consuming opening drive, scoring on a 3-yard Bobby Cole run after a 6:18 drive. Air Force however answered with touchdowns on its first two drives, a 1-yard run by Hammond and a 4-yard run by Taven Birdow.
Air Force only had four drives in the first half as UNM’s game plan of keep-away was effective. Down 14-7, Air Force looked to have a touchdown on a 14-yard pass, but an illegal block called it back, and two plays later Alex Hart laid a devastating hit on Birdow, knocking the ball loose. UNM recovered at the 5-yard line as Joey Noble fell on it, and UNM drove the length of the field to get a 40-yard field goal from Andrew Shelley to make it 14-10 at the break. UNM probably should have tied it but Tuioti overthrew a wide-open Kress in the back of the end zone just before the field goal.
Overall, UNM only threw for 90 yards through the air but rushed for 268 as eight players logged carries and six had at least 25 yards on the ground.
SoundCloud: New Mexico and Air Force Audio Interviews
Postgame Notes: Air Force 44, New Mexico 22
This was the 37th meeting between the two teams.
Air Force now leads 23-14
Series is now tied 10-10 in Albuquerque
Air Force leads 11-3 in Colorado Springs
Series is tied 1-1 in Denver
New Mexico leads 1-0 in Dallas
Air Force has now won two straight in the series
Air Force has now won one in a row in Albuquerque
Starting lineup changes for UNM from published two-deep
Offense: Kentrail Moran started at RB for the injured Bryson Carroll. David Zavala started at left guard for Chris Estrella, and Cade Briggs started at right guard.
Defense: Langston Murray started at nose tackle for Ben Gansallo. Kameron Miller started at free safety for Letayveon Beaton.
*New Mexico’s captains were Alex Hart, Kyle Stapley and Trent Sellers
*Air Force won the toss and deferred. UNM received off to start the game, defending the south goal. UNM is now 5-6 on the coin toss.
*Micah Gray served as New Mexico Man. It was his second career honor, and the fourth time this year he has led the team carrying the state flag onto the field.
*New Mexico scored on its opening possession, using 6:18 of the clock, its longest drive of the season. The previous long touchdown drive was the final drive at Boise State which took 5:20 off the clock.
*New Mexico allowed Darrell Hammond III to throw for 327 yards, the first time Air Force has had a 300-yard passer since October 14, 1989 when Dee Dowis threw for 306 against Notre Dame.
*New Mexico outrushed Air Force 268-213.
*New Mexico has lost eight straight, its longest losing streak since losing 12 in a row from 2010 to 2011 (last three of 2010 and the first nine of 2011).
*Bobby Cole scored to end the opening drive for UNM, his second career touchdown (his first was at Notre Dame).
*Tevaka Tuioti’s 48-yard run in the second quarter was a career long. For the game he rushed for a career-high 79 yards before his injury.
*Alex Hart forced his third career fumble in the second quarter, ending an Air Force drive at the Lobo 4-yard line. Joey Noble had his first career fumble recovery on the play.
*Trae Hall was pressed into service after an injury to Tuioti, and his first collegiate pass was a 13-yard touchdown to Jordan Kress.
*Kentrail Moran made his first career start, as did Langston Murray.
*UNM had eight players rush the ball in the game, and seven set new career-highs in rushing yards, and the eighth player tied his previous best.
*Tyson Dyer had two of three punts inside the 20, and he netted 48.0 yards per kick.
*Michael LoVett III played his first game as a kickoff returner, and he had six opportunities, averaging 23.6 yards per return.