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Lobos Drop Rio Grande Rivalry 21-9

by Frank Mercogliano

LAS CRUCES, N.M. — It was another rough third quarter, and a key penalty that kept an Aggie drive alive proved critical and New Mexico State took the 112th edition of the Rio Grande Rivalry 21-9, its first win over UNM since a 30-28 win in Albuquerque in 2017.

The Lobos could only muster three field goals from freshman Luke Drzewiecki, and down 21-6, a 74-yard, 20 play drive that started at the UNM three after a penalty ended in just a field goal.  Penalties were a key story of the game, as UNM had returned the kickoff from the endzone beyond the 30-yard line, but a block in the back at the 6-yard line meant UNM started at the 3.

Down 14-6 in the third quarter, UNM seemingly had the Aggies stopped on a 3rd-and-7 as Gavin Frakes’ pass was going to be for no gain, but Justin Harris was flagged for a late hit to give NMSU a first down, and they turned that into a 2-yard rushing touchdown by Star Thomas.

UNM overall was flagged for 11 penalties for 64 yards, and NMSU picked up nine for 102.  The Lobos, down 7-6 at the break, were outscored 14-0 in the third quarter, marking the sixth straight game UNM went scoreless in the third.

Offensively, the Lobos moved the ball a bit between the 20s, outgaining the Aggies 269-225, but every time UNM got momentum, a penalty seemingly hurt the drive.  UNM also dealt with a slew of injuries in the game as leading receiver Geordon Porter missed the game with an injury, and starting center CJ James left the game in the second quarter, moving Isaak Gutierrez to center.  UNM was already down one starter on the offensive line in Shancco Matautia, and then Gutierrez’ replacement Zaccheus Williams also left with an injury.

UNM opened the game with the ball and went 61 yards in 11 plays, but a loss of six on a rishing play set UNM behind the chains, and the Lobos only got three yards on a third-and-long.  That led to the first of Drzewiecki’s three field goals and it was 3-0.

The Aggies got on the board after back-to-back penalties gave them first-and-goal at the Lobo 22, and Gavin Frakes hit Ahmonte Watkins for a 22-yard touchdown, and NMSU never trailed again.

Another promising Lobo drive stalled out inside the red zone when UNM suffered a false start on a 3rd-and-2, and the couldn’t convert.  Drzewiecki hit from 32 yards out to get UNM within a point, and it stayed that way into the halftime break.

The Lobos for the second straight week did not register a takeaway, marking exactly seven years since UNM’s last win without registering a takeaway, October 15, 2015 when UNM beat Air Force 45-40 when neither team turned it over.

Postgame Notes


This was the 112th meeting between the two teams.


New Mexico now leads the series 73-34-5

New Mexico now leads the series 29-19-2 in Las Cruces

New Mexico leads the series 43-15-3 in Albuquerque

New Mexico State has won one straight in the series and one straight in Las Cruces


Starting lineup changes for UNM from published two-deep

Offense: Andrew Erickson started at WR for Will Dennis (TE)

Defense: Bryson Taylor started at CB for Jerrick Reed as Reed started at S instead of Jer’Marius Lewis.


*New Mexico’s captains were Jake Saltonstall, Trae Hall, Isaiah Perez, Radson Jang.

*New Mexico’s Bryce Santana carried the state flag of New Mexico onto the field and George Steinkamp carried the United States flag.

*NMSU won the toss and deferred.  UNM took the ball and defended the North goal. It marked the 25th time in 26 games under Danny Gonzales that UNM has received the opening kickoff.



*New Mexico opened the game with a field goal marking the third straight game in which UNM opened the game with a score.

*When New Mexico State got a touchdown with 3:00 left in the first quarter, it marked the first time UNM had trailed in the opening half since the end of the first half against LSU when it was 21-0.

*The Lobos were outscored 14-0 in the third quarter and have now been outscored in the last six games 53-0.

*The Lobos are now 2-5 for the fourth straight season.

*The Lobos entered the game 128th out of 131 in third down conversions at 18-for-75 (24.0%), and they went 2-for-13.

*The Lobos have not had anyone other than a quarterback score a touchdown in the last four games.

*UNM is getting outscored 53-13 in the third quarter, and 53-0 in the third quarter in the last six games.

*The Lobo defense limited NMSU to just 10 first downs and 2-for-10 on third down with only 225 yards of total offense.

*The Lobos did not register a sack.



*Luke Drzewiecki’s 44-yard first quarter field goal was a career long. He later hit from 33 yards and 41 yards for his first career multi-field goal game.

*Drzewiecki is now 4-for-6 on field goals on the season and UNM went over .500 for the year, as Lobo kickers are now 7-for-13.

*Aaron Rodriguez averaged 42.5 yards on six punts.

*Christian Washington had a career-best 164 yards in all-purpose yardage.  He also recorded nine receptions.  It was the most receptions by a Lobo in 11 years.  The last Lobo to have that many receptions was Ty Kirk, who recorded 11 against New Mexico State in a 42-28 loss on October 1, 2011.

*Miles Kendrick’s 19 completions and 30 attempts were both career highs.