Lobos Dominate Fresno State 25-17 On the Road
FRESNO, Calif. — New Mexico played a brilliant second half with career days from Jacory Croskey-Merritt and Caleb Medford, and UNM’s defense allowed just four yards until the final drive of the second half as the Lobos won in Fresno for the first time since 1994 and only the second time ever, winning 25-17 to move to 4-7 on the season.
The Lobos completely dominated Fresno State after halftime, outscoring the Bulldogs 13-3. UNM outgained Fresno State 262-63 in the second half and allowed -8 yards rushing in the half. UNM’s defense consistently came up big in the second half, including on a wild sequence that for most of the year seemed to somehow go wrong for the Lobos.
Dylan Hopkins was looking downfield for Jeremiah Hixon but the pass was picked off by Lavelle Bailey, and he returned it inside the Lobo 20, but Andrew Erickson worked his way back and forced a fumble which UNM’s DJ Washington recovered at the Lobo 14. Hopkins again threw an interception at midfield, but the defense after a pass interference penalty held firm at the 36-yard line, forcing a punt.
UNM took that punt and drove 93 yards on 10 plays with every play on the ground. Jacory Croskey-Merritt had runs of seven and 24 yards to start it before Andrew Henry took over for runs of eight, 22 and four. A couple of penalties made it first-and-20, and Dylan Hopkins raced 12 yards around the end, but suffered an arm injury on the play. Devon Dampier came in and finished the drive off, running for eight yards and a first down before Croskey-Merritt scored his second touchdown of the day from 10 yards out to make it 18-14 after UNM missed a second two-point conversion.
Fresno State against couldn’t move the ball much and punted, giving UNM another long field, starting at the three-yard line. That was no issue for UNM as Dampier led UNM on a 10-play drive, twice completing passes. The first was for 26 yards to a diving Jeremiah Hixon, and the second finished it off. He bobbled the snap, picked it up and heaved it long to the end zone for Caleb Medford, who leapt and snagged it for a 33-yard touchdown and a 100-yard game.
Fresno State turned to the injured Mikey Keene but it didn’t really work as Fresno State punted on his first drive and then the Bulldogs could only muster a field goal after a 15-play drive to make it 25-17. Dimitri Johnson recovered the onside kick and Dampier rushed three times for 10 yards and a game clinching first down to give UNM the win.
New Mexico opened the scoring with a 38-yard Luke Drzewiecki field goal on its opening drive, but it felt like a Fresno State win as UNM had first and goal at the 5-yard line. Dylan Hopkins hit Trace Bruckler for a 4-yard touchdown but an offensive pass interference call negated that. UNM instead settled for Drzewiecki’s field goal.
Fresno State responded on its opening drive with a Logan Fife 1-yard scoring run around the end for a 7-3 lead, a touchdown that capped a 77-yard drive. UNM’s defense faced a little adversity after a 39-yard punt return set up the Bulldogs at the UNM 24-yard line, but the defense allowed just a yard, and Dylan Lynch saw his 42-yard field goal pull left.
The Bulldogs did make it 14-3 when Malik Sherrod capped off a seven-play, 78-yard run with a 6-yard score, but UNM responded to end the half.
Drzewiecki hit another 38-yard field goal to cut the deficit to 14-6, and then Jacory Croskey-Merritt went over from 50 yards out, helped by a ridiculous block by Andrew Erickson where he wiped out two would-be tacklers downfield with one hit, springing Croskey-Merritt for the final few yards. UNM elected to go for two and the tie, but Hopkins’ pass was broken up.
This was the 21st meeting between the two teams.
Fresno State now leads 15-6 in the series
Fresno State now leads 8-2 in Fresno
Fresno State leads 7-3 in Albuquerque
New Mexico leads 1-0 in Las Vegas
New Mexico has now one straight in the series, and one straight in Fresno.
Starting lineup changes for UNM from published two-deep
Offense: Andrew Erickson started in place of DJ Washington. Wyatt McClour was the skill player that didn’t start
Defense: Mihalis Santorineos started for Alec Marenco at MLB. Avery Burt started as a stand-up LB for Tyler Kiehne and Destin Gainer started at end for Kyler Drake.
*New Mexico’s captains were CJ James, Syaire Riley, Alec Marenco and Dylan Hopkins.
*New Mexico’s Bryce Santana carried the state flag of New Mexico onto the field and Charles Steinkamp carried the United States flag.
*Fresno State won the toss and deferred. UNM received the opening kick and UNM has opened with the ball in 38 of 43 games in the Danny Gonzales era.
*Fresno State opened the game with a kickoff out of bounds the first out-of-bounds kick for either team this season.
*Fresno State’s first quarter missed field goal was just the fourth miss this year by an opponent as opponents are now 18-for-22 on field goals.
*UNM picked up its seventh takeaway of the season, but first by the offense when Fresno State fumbled away an interception return.
*New Mexico’s 345 yards rushing was a season-high and the most since September 1, 2018 when UNM rushed for 319 against Incarnate Word in the season opener.
*Both teams threw for exactly 183 yards.
*Luke Drzewiecki’s 38-yard field goal ended a two-miss streak, with both from beyond 47 yards. He made two from 38 yards on the day.
*Zach Benedict of Rio Rancho High School debuted for UNM when he kicked off in the first quarter.
*Caleb Medford had career-highs in receptions (six) and yards (122). His previous bests were four receptions (against UNLV) and 82 yards (against UMass).
*Trace Bruckler had his first career rush for one yard on a direct snap.
*Jacory Croskey-Merritt’s 50-yard touchdown run was his second-longest TD rush. He also had a 10-yard touchdown run in the third quarter. He now has 16 rushing touchdown of the season, and he is third all alone on the single season ahead of Kasey Carrier (2012). It was his 17th overall touchdown tying Terance Mathis tying DonTrell Moore (2005) for third on the single-season touchdown list.
*Croskey-Merritt had his third 100-yard rushing game for UNM, and the fifth of his career. His three 100-yard rushing games in the 2023 season equaled Ahmari Davis’ three 100-yard games in the 2019 season.
*Croskey-Merritt’s 204 yards was the 15th 200-yard game in school history and the 14th-most rushing yards in a game. It was the most rushing yards since Ahmari Davis had exactly 200 against Hawai’i on October 26, 2019 and he is the 11th player to ever do it.
*Receiver Andrew Erickson was credited with the first forced fumble of his career after forcing one on an interception return that was recovered by DJ Washington. He is now tied for the team lead in forced fumbles.
*Devon Dampier has now thrown five touchdowns in his career without an interception.
*Donte Martin was credited with one pass break up for his 31st, which tied Glover Quin for the all-time record at UNM.
*Croskey-Merritt now has 952 yards rushing on the season and he is 48 away from the 21st 1,000-yard rushing season in school history.