The University of New Mexico (3-3) passed just three instances and ran 58 times for 361 rushing yards, hurting Texas State’s (2-3) defensive effort all night and taking a 35-14 victory in front of 22,135 fans at University Stadium in Albuquerque.
New Mexico’s leading rusher , Kasey Carrier, had 191 yards and four touchdowns on his own. He achieved an 8.3-yards-per-carry average. His four scores were one less than New Mexico’s school record for rushing touchdowns in a game by a single player.
Dennis Franchione and six other coaches returned to New Mexico where they formerly worked, but a victory was not to be. Franchione said much of the game was won “in the trenches” by both New Mexico’s offensive and defensive lines, which allowed the Lobos to rush for 6.1 yards per carry.
“They controlled the line of scrimmage, and that was the difference in the game,” Franchione said. “Neither one of our lines held up very well. It made it difficult for us. (Carrier) did a great job hiding behind that big line making cuts, and it was hard to get him on the ground.”
Down 7-0, Bobcat kickoff returner and junior wide receiver Andy Erickson fumbled on the 23-yard line. The Lobos took advantage, returning the fumble down to the Bobcats’ one-yard line. New Mexico went on to take a 14-0 lead in the first eight minutes.
“It was a tough way to get started, and it kind of takes a little air out of (the players),” Franchione said. “Andy’s made a lot of plays for us. It’s hard to be too critical of him but that was obviously one that put us in a tough situation.”
Despite Erickson’s fumble, he led Texas State in receiving yards with 100 on eight receptions. The eight included a 35-yard touchdown reception in the second quarter. Senior tight end Chase Harper hauled in a 40-yard touchdown catch. He only caught one other pass in the game for 11 yards.
The Lobos scored 14 points off four Texas State turnovers: the fumble and an interception off senior quarterback Shaun Rutherford on the first play of the third quarter. They scored another touchdown following the Bobcats’ turnover on downs after a fake punt attempt. The Bobcats had a chance to drive and tie the game at 14 but failed to do so and punted possession away.
Texas State was overpowered on both sides of the line, rushing for only 32 yards on 20 carries.
Take away Rutherford’s 13-yard scamper and Texas State averaged zero yards per carry (19 carries, 19 yards ). The Lobos had three different rushers run for over 75 yards including Carrier, quarterback Cole Gautsche (79) and running back Jhurell Pressley (78).
“It was very frustrating out there,” said senior Bobcat linebacker Joplo Bartu. “We’ve got to be gap sound and we can’t jump out of gaps and expect turnovers. We have to come up with big stops. That’s our job. We’ve just got to go to the film room and check out what we did wrong, fix it and come back next week.”
Rutherford’s night ended with 186 passing yards on 16 out of 21 completions with two touchdowns and the lone interception. Rutherford again was sat down in favor of Tyler Arndt in the fourth quarter, but following the game he said (Texas State) was just “trying to get Arndt some reps.” Arndt went five for 13 and threw two interceptions.
The Bobcats’ second-half struggles continued, totaling 106 yards of offense, scoring no points. In total, Texas State has scored three points in the second half against FBS opponents in 2012 and a Sept. 1 field goal against Houston.
“I wish I could tell you what it is from the first half going into the second half, what brings us down,” Rutherford said. “But once I find out I’ll be sure to let you know what it is that’s getting us down in the second half. We need to help our defense out, stay on the field and give ourselves a chance. We are talking about our troubles in the second half every day.”
Rutherford and the Bobcats will host the University of Idaho for homecoming next Saturday at 6:00 p.m. at Bobcat Stadium. Idaho (1-5) won its first game of the season last week, 26-18 over New Mexico State University.