Freshmen Lead Way in 14-3 Win at Wyoming
LARAMIE, Wyo. — It was all about the freshmen. Freshmen Isaiah Chavez led UNM with a near perfect game throwing the ball, a true freshmen Trace Bruckler and Aaron Dumas scored touchdowns. That was more than enough for a Lobo defense that punished Wyoming as New Mexico picked up its first Mountain West win of the season, taking a 14-3 win in Laramie.
The win was not only UNM’s first win in conference play, but it ended the nation’s longest road losing streak at 16 games. The Lobos, in a bit of perfect karma, have now happily passed that streak onto New Mexico State, which entered their game at Hawai’i with a 15-game losing streak.
New Mexico implemented a ball control offense with Terry Wilson out for a second straight game. UNM was able to control the ball, and the game, as UNM easily won the time of possession battle at 34:14. The Lobos limited Wyoming to only 11 total drives, two of which started in the final minute of the half.
Neither team scored after halftime, with only UNM having a real scoring opportunity as Cody Moon, another freshman, recovered a fumble in the Wyoming red zone, but the Lobos couldn’t capitalize. Isaiah Chavez threw his only incompletion of the game on a throw away on third down and UNM missed a field goal into a tricky wind. It didn’t matter as the Lobo defense was stout throughout, holding the Cowboys to just a field goal and only 255 yards on 66 plays, forcing two changes of quarterbacks during the game.
New Mexico opened a 14-3 lead after a first half which couldn’t have gone any better. The Lobos punted on their opening possession, but Corey Hightower picked off Sean Chambers at the UNM 20-yard line to end Wyoming’s opening threat. UNM then drove the field and twice converted on fourth down. Aaron Dumas converted the first fourth down, bowling over for a two-yard gain on fourth-and-one just inside Lobo territory.
Chavez then set up the second conversion, and that one went for a touchdown. On third-and-7, he somehow escaped a couple of tackles and bullied his way to the Wyoming 43, setting up a fourth-and-three. Danny Gonzales chose to go for it, and Chavez rolled right and then threw back left, where tight end Trace Bruckler was wide open. He caught it and waltzed into the end zone for a 7-0 lead.
Wyoming had just 123 yards of offense in the first half, and 62 of those, just over half, came on its only scoring drive. Levi Williams, who entered on the drive, engineered a drive from the Wyoming 28 into the UNM 10-yard line, with the key play being Isaiah Neyor’s 38-yard catch. Neyor had an easy touchdown but couldn’t keep his feet, stumbling at the Lobo 11-yard line, and it cost the ’Pokes. Neyor also was open because UNM’s defender on the play stumbled as well.
A false start and a Tavian Combs pass breakup on third down forced a 27-yard Jon Hoyland field goal. UNM was able to answer, chewing up the rest of the half in the process. UNM took over at its own 25-yard line, and Chavez hit Kyle Jarvis for two big gains, one a 34-yarder to the Wyoming 35, and another to Wyoming’s 8-yardline, with a targeting penalty tacked on afterwards. That and an offside set up UNM at the 2-yard line and Aaron Dumas barreled in for his first career touchdown, making it 14-3 with 29 seconds left, and that was how the game went into the half.
This was the 74th meeting between the two teams.
Wyoming now leads the series 38-36 overall
New Mexico now leads the series 20-19 in Laramie
Wyoming leads the series 19-15 in Albuquerque
New Mexico leads the series 1-0 in Las Vegas
New Mexico has won two straight in the series
Starting lineup changes for UNM from published two-deep
Offense: Isaiah Chavez started at QB for Terry Wilson; Aaron Dumas started at RB for Bobby Cole, Zarak Scruggs started at WR for Andrew Erickson, Isaak Gutierrez started at LG and Austin Cook started at RT in place of Jack Buford. Radson Jang started at RG Shancco Matautia.
Defense: Tony Collier started at CB for Donte Martin.
*New Mexico’s captains were Terry Wilson (who didn’t travel), Jerrick Reed II, Kyle Stapley and Joey Noble.
*New Mexico’s Bryce Santana carried the state flag of New Mexico onto the field.
*Wyoming won the toss and deferred and UNM elected to receive, defending the south goal. UNM has received the opening kickoff in 14 of Danny Gonzales’ 15 games (Houston Baptist is the only exception).
*Danny Gonzales improved to 5-10 overall, and that record after 15 games is tied for the best record by a Lobo coach after his first 15 games since 1983-84, when Joe Lee Dunn started his Lobo career 9-6. Every coach on the list had the benefit of two non-conference seasons in compiling their record, where Gonzales had one and Barlow had one game.
Joe Lee Dunn (1983-84) 9-6
Danny Gonzales (2020-21) 5-10
Bob Davie (2012-13) 5-10
Dennis Franchoine (1992-93) 4-11
Rocky Long (1998-99) 4-11
George Barlow (2011) 1-7
Mike Sheppard (1987-88) 1-14
Mike Locksley (2009-10) 1-14
*UNM’s first quarter lead was UNM’s first in 219:11, since the 9:27 mark of the second half of the UTEP game on September 25.
*New Mexico’s seventh drive of the game ended in the fourth quarter. The Lobos had their seventh drive of the game in the first half five times in the first seven games.
*UNM won the turnover battle 2-0, and outscored Wyoming off turnovers 7-0.
*The last time UNM held a team to single digits was a 66-0 shutout over Mississippi Valley State on September 5, 2015. The last time UNM held an FBS team to single digits was a 21-9 win at UTSA on October 4, 2014. The last time UNM held a MW team to single digits was a 70-7 win over San Diego State in Albuquerque on October 18, 2008.
*UNM’s 255 yards allowed was it’s best defensive output against an FBS team this season.
*Isaiah Chavez started at quarterback, UNM’s third starting quarterback in the last three games. Chavez’ first collegiate action came in 2020 in Las Vegas against Wyoming, throwing the winning touchdown pass in the fourth quarter of a 17-16 win.
*Corey Hightower recorded his first career interception to end Wyoming’s opening drive. It was UNM’s first interception in the last three games (going back to Ronald Wilson’s INT against UTEP in the second quarter), and it was the first of Hightower’s career and it came in game 37 for him.
*Trace Bruckler’s 43-yard touchdown catch in the opening quarter made him the first Lobo to score more than one touchdown this season.
*Chavez’s 43-yard touchdown pass in the first quarter was his third career touchdown pass, and the shortest of his career.
*Aaron Dumas’ touchdown run with 29 seconds left in the first half was his first career touchdown.
*Kyle Stapley started his 39th straight game at center, but moved to guard in the first quarter, and Radson Jang, who started his first career game, moved from guard to center.
*Andrew Shelley suffered his first missed field goal since the first half against New Mexico State on September 11.
*Isaiah Chavez set a UNM record for completion percentage in a game, going 10-for-11, 90.9%. The previous mark was 8-for-10, 80.0% by three Lobo QBs, Stan Quintana (1964), Stoney Case (1993) and most recently Rudy Camano (9/23/2000) against Northern Arizona.