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Fresno State Pulls Away for 41-9 Win

by Frank Mercogliano

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — New Mexico had plenty of chances, but three red zone trips produced three field goals, and Fresno State blew open a close game with a big play in the third quarter as the Bulldogs raced past UNM 41-9, handing the Lobos a fifth consecutive loss.  The win moved Fresno State to 2-1 in the Mountain West’s West division, while UNM dropped to 2-6 and 0-4, and must now win the last four in order to become bowl eligible.

The Lobos started Justin Holaday at quarterback, a change from Miles Kendrick, who started the first seven games.  While UNM was able to extend the defense with long pass attempts, the Lobos never quite clicked on them, having two long balls go just off outstretched fingertips.

However, it was a case of UNM getting a few good opportunities and not being able to cash in with touchdowns.  Down 3-0 in the first quarter, the Lobos were set up with great field position as Christian Washington returned a kickoff 63 yards to the Fresno State 20.  It took UNM one play to get a first down as Holaday ran to the 19-yard line, but after a completion to Luke Wysong, a 5-yard loss meant a Luke Drzewiecki field goal attempt from 33 yards, which was good for a 3-3 tie.

Fresno State took the lead for good with a 75-yard drive that ended in a 2-yard Logan Fife touchdown run.  After some punts, Unm got the ball back at midfield after a 38-yard punt return by Wysong.  Washington opened with an 11-yard run, and he then converted a third-and-1 to move the chains.  Holaday scrambled out of danger and raced 35 yards, diving for the pylonbut going out at the 2-yard line.  With a chance to tie the game late in the first half, the offense fizzled.  Washington was stopped for no gain, and then a designed run for Holaday saw him lose four yards.  A sack on third down meant another Drzewiecki field goal, this from 24 yards.

Fresno State drove to end the half with a field goal and at the break, the Bulldogs led 13-6.  UNM go the ball to open the half and immediately moved the ball on a 14-yard Nate Jones run.  However, a third-and-9 became third-and-24 after a penalty, and UNM punted.  On the first play after the punt, Fife hit Jalen Moreno-Cropper for a 75-yard touchdown, and it was 20-6.

The Bulldogs made it 27-6 on the next series with Fife faked everyone out on a keeper around the left side on third-and-2 for a 30-yard touchdown run.

UNM had another chance to get back in it when A.J. Haulcy, who had a career-best 24 tackles in the game, picked off Fife near midfield, returning the ball to the Fresno State 19.  UNM couldn’t get a first down, and Drzewiecki hit his third field goal, this from 29 yards, to make it 27-9.  The Bulldogs tacked on two fourth quarter touchdowns as the Lobos never got anything going in the second half with just three first downs and 52 yards of offense.

Postgame Notes


This was the 20th meeting between the two teams.


Fresno State now leads the series 15-5

Fresno State now leads the series 7-3 in Albuquerque

Fresno State leads the series 8-1 in Fresno

New Mexico leads the series 1-0 in Las Vegas

Fresno State has won two straight in the series and six straight in Albuquerque


Starting lineup changes for UNM from published two-deep

Offense: Justin Holaday started at QB for Miles Kendrick, Duece Jones started at WR for Geordon Porter, Radson Jang started at C for CJ James, Connor Witthoft started at TE for receiver Trae Hall

Defense: Bryce Santana started at NT for LB Cody Moon, ch Morris started at corner for AJ Odums, Jer’Marius Lewis started at safety for Ronald Wilson.


*New Mexico’s captains were Jerrick Reed, Reco Hannah, Trae Hall and 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.

*Fresno State won toss and elected to receive. It marked the first time in the last 20 games, dating back to the 2020 season opener against Houston Baptist that UNM kicked off to start a game, and it was only the second time in Danny Gonzales’ 27 games that UNM kicked off the start the game.



*New Mexico did not a score a touchdown for the third time in five games, and Unm now has gone 10 consecutive quarters without a touchdown.  UNM did score on its opening possession for a fourth consecutive game.

*UNM’s field goal in the third quarter marked its first third quarter points since the season opener against Maine.  UNM opponents had scored 67 consecutive points in the third quarter until UNM’s field goal.

*UNM started five players making their first starts of the season, giving UNM 47 different starters on offense and defense this year in just eight games.

*After opening the season a combined 4-for-10 on field goals, UNM has hit six straight.

*UNM’s defense allowed 510 yards after allowing 529 over the past two games.

*Fresno State’s 285 yards rushing and 50 carries were both the most allowed by UNM this year.

*UNM didn’t record a sack for the second straight game.

*UNM’s 51 passing yards equaled a season low, as it also had 51 against LSU.

*UNM did score on all three red zone possessions.



*Luke Drzewiecki ran his consecutive made field goal streak to six with makes of 29, 24, and 33 yards.

*Justin Holaday recorded his first career reception, catching a pass that was batted back to him, losing 11 yards.

*Aaron Rodriguez averaged 51.1 yards on seven punts, his best average of the season, with four 50-yarders including a long of 60.

*A.J. Haulcy recorded 24 tackles, the most by a Lobo since Dakota Cox had 24 against South Dakota on September 1, 2016.  It was the most by a Lobo against an FBS opponent in at least the last 23 years.  It was just the 16th time in the last 23 years that any FBS player recorded at least 24 tackles in a game.  It was the most tackles by a player in the FBS since September 22, 2018 when Kenneth Murray recorded 28 against Army.

*Christian Washington’s lone kickoff return went for 63 yards.  It improved his season average to 27.7 yards per return on 11 returns.

*Dion Hunter had a career-high 14 tackles.


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