Lobos' Comeback Bid Falls Short in Gildan New Mexico Bowl
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. - It was nearly one of the greatest comebacks in school history. Nearly. In the end, the Lobos whittled an 18-point second half deficit down to five, and then with a chance to go for the tie threw an interception as the Arizona Wildcats defeated New Mexico 45-37 in a highly entertaining 10th Annual Gildan New Mexico Bowl in front of a crowd of 30,289.
Both teams combined for 1,025 yards of offense, with UNM gaining 333 on the ground and 189 in the air. Arizona was about the opposite with 174 on the ground and 329 via the air. Things looked bleak when Lamar Jordan threw an interception on a play starting at his own 1-yard line that led to a short touchdown run and a 42-24 Wildcat lead with 7:35 left in the third quarter. Jordan, who played well with 135 yards rushing and a 110 yards passing, got UNM back in it with his third rushing touchdown to make it 42-31.
Jason Sanders then hit a perfect surprise onside kick that Donnie Duncan recovered for New Mexico. Jordan got hurt on the drive, leaving the game for good, and Austin Apodaca came in and scored his first career rushing touchdown on an option keeper to make it 42-37. The Lobos went for two and missed the conversion.
UNM got the break it needed on a missed field goal, but UNM turned the ball over on downs. On second-and-3 at the Wildcat 18, DaVonte' Neal broke up a pass intended for Carlos Wiggins, and then Chris Davis fumbled an option pitch for a loss of seven yards. On fourth-and-13 in no-man's land, UNM went for it but Apodaca was sacked. That led to a field goal and a 45-37 lead for Arizona, with one last chance for UNM.
Taking over at the 26 with 1:29 and no timeouts, UNM picked up two first downs to get to the Arizona 36, but there was just 35 seconds left. Looking for a gain hitter, Apodaca was pressured and his pass missed Dameon Gamblin and fell into the waiting arms of Cam Denson for a game ending interception.
UNM opened the scoring with a 37-yard Zack Rogers field goal, but Arizona used a couple of long passes to go up 14-3. Jordan had his first rushing touchdown of the day to cut into that lead, but Arizona answered on an Anu Solomon run.
UNM scored an unlikely touchdown on a 92-yard pass from Jordan to Delane Hart-Johnson, the second-longest in UNM history and the fourth-longest in bowl history. Hart-Johnson outraced his brother Will Parks to the pylon for the score.
However, Arizona scored just before, and just after halftime to boost the lead to 18, setting the stage for UNM's near-comeback.