The rain comes. After a threatening for most of the afternoon and a few false starts, a torrential downpour hits the stadium. The only fans in the stands are about 8,000 students and they are not going anywhere.
1:45 before the kick
We have the most specific referee in history. Not only does he explain the coin toss procedure, but he gives the contingency plans in case he fails to execute the perfect toss and drops the coin to the turf.
15:00 in the first
SO much for Bondzio's lack of leg strength, Bondzio boots the opening kick off about eight yards deep for a touchback. 13:56 in the first
Cats already have their first sideline warning of the night. Nice to see they are already in midseason form.
10:23 in the first
A near perfect drive for the Lobos. They have taken nearly 5:00 off the clock and have driven to the Wildcats' 20-yard line.
9:59 in the first
Cats stuff the run on third and one.
9:22 in the first
UNM goes for it on fourth down and goes to the air. Dane Krogstad defelects the pass but Josh Fussell is there t haul in the deflection and get the Lobos a first down.
7:46 in the first
It appears that the Lobos have scored on a third down pass in traffic, but it is going upstairs for review. The ruling on the field stands, New Mexico leads 7-0. Terrible start for the Cats. The defense gave up an 80-yard drive and more importantly the Lobos ate up over 7:00 of clock.
The Cats may be the favorite, but the longer UNM is in control, the tougher it will be and the tougher they will get.
7:39 in the first
Devin Ross bobbles the opening kickoff, but never drops the ball and returns the to the 31 yards line. He sure looks like he can break one at anytime.
6:19 in the first
Cats move the ball really well on the first three plays, but now face a third and 10 at the UNM 24. The Lobos brought the house on the last two plays.
6:14 in the first
The drive stalls. Tuitama is pasted on third down, and the Cats settle for a field goal.
The results of the first two drives: UNM had the ball for 7:14, Arizona for 1:37. 7-3 New Mexico.
6:09 in the first
Two kickoffs, two touchbacks.
5:02 in the first
The second drive not so good for Los Lobos. A three and out, followed by a short punt. Antoine Cason does not get to field the punt, but does get a nice serenade from the student section.
4:44 in the first
So much for Chris Jennings losing his job. He not only got the start, but has both Wildcat carries. That is one more carry than he had all last week.
2:50 in the first
Of the five plays on this drive, four have gone to Jennings. He has two carries, a reception and Tuitama just tried to shovel the ball to him to avoid a sack.
2:18 in the first
Great read by Tuitama. With the blitz coming, he quickly shoots a quick inside screen to Terrell Turner and the sophomore does the rest. He scoots by a number of Lobos and cruises for a 39-yards score.
2:18 in the first
In case you are playing at home, Bondzio is 3-3 on touchbacks.
Maybe it is too early for this, but Willie Tuitama now has seven touchdown passes. He's just 13 away from tying Marc Reed's school record of 20.
1:04 in the first
On third and long Jason Parker gets to Porterie. After 16 plays on that first drive, the Lobos have run just seven.
0:00 in the first
New Mexico held the ball for over 10:00 but Arizona made the most of their possessions. They have the 10-7 lead, despite possessing the ball for 4:43.
12:41 in the second
Cats force another three and out, but there is a penalty for running into the kicker. Since it is a five-yard penalty and the Lobos got off a 50-yard punt, with no return, they decline it.
Replay shows that the punter actually tripped over a Wildcat defender's head. He actually jarred the helmet pretty good. Can you be called for a facemask with your foot?
11:43 in the second
Call Terrell Turner "Mr. Adjustment" for the second time theis game, Turner adjusts to an underthrown ball and hauls it in despite good coverage.
10:16 in the second
So far the Cats have been underwhelming on short yardage plays. After failing to gain a yard on two redzone carries against NAU, the Cats fail to pick up a long yard on third down at the Lobo 20. The handoff to Xavier Smith was stuffed. Cats were lined up to go for it but called a timeout. If they do indeed go for it, will they give the ball to big Earl Mitchell?
10:15 in the second
Out of the tmeout they line up for a field goal. Add to that a false start and this one is a 42-yarder for Bondzio.
He nails it, a career best and the Cats lead 13-7.
9:41 in the second
Bondzio snaps the touchbacks streak, he kicks a low line drive that is fielded around the 10.
9:00 in the second
Porterie is apparently French for fast start. After beginning the game going 8-8, he has since gone just 2-7. A roughing the passer call does bail them out on this drive, so he will get new life on trying to improve those numbers.
8:17 in the second
Ho bad was the last throw? Not only did Wilrey Fontenot pick it off, but Corey Hall almost got a hand on it. Good thing he didn't since Fontenot hauled it in and returned it about seven yards to the 46-yard line.
6:54 in the second
Tonight's theme: YAC. Tuitama hits Dean on a quick slant and the receiver races another 30 or so yards to get the Cats deep into New Mexico territory.
5:50 in the second
Jennings gets his hands on what would have been a tough, but catchable ball in the endzone, but can't hold on. On the next play the Cats go to alost the same pattern in the corner of the endzone but A.J. can't hold on.
5:39 in the second
Bondzio misses a fairly short field goal. Cats have a chance to score on four of their first five drives, but in the end it is just a 13-7 lead. The offense is moving the ball, but not getting into the endzone.
2:58 in the second
Apparently San Diego State is within four of the Sun Devils, 14-10. I don't expect the cloeness of the game to last, but it is a good showing for an Aztec team that has really struggled of late.
2:27 in the second
On third and long, Cats run the RB screen Despite a few Lobos sniffing it out, Jennings turns it into a 21-yard gain…wait the play is being reviewed to see if he stepped out short of the first down. Replay shows he was not within six inches of the sideline. Cats get the first down and some breathing room.
1:25 in the second
Tuitma throws a terrible pass that should have been picked off, but Mike Thomas does a nice job breaking it up.
1:06 in the second
Keenyn Crier shows off his monster leg. His punt sails over 60 yards in the air before bouncing into the endzone. He'll be credited for a 67 yarder, his career best…so far!
:32 in the second
The super specific ref inadvertently announces that New Mexico has called a time out, despite trying to run out the clock. He quickly corrects the error and charges the Cats with the timeout.
:25 in the second
After a long completion on third down, New Mexico does indeed use a timeout. This time the official gets it right the first time.
How is this for a difference in schedules? Next week the Cats get a ranked California. The Lobos get Sacramento State.
:17 in the second
During the timeout the Cats are charged with a 15-yard unsportsmanshiplike conduct penalty on the bench. If I was Mike Stoops I'd sit the bench down he rest of the game...that was possibly the worst joke ever.
:03 in the second
Although New Mexico gives up a sack and a false start, they get the last laugh. Portierie hits Travis Brown on a long pass where he blows right by the Wildcat defender for an easy score.
What really hurts is that it looked like the Lobos were content to run out the clock, but after the Cats used the timeout they went on the attack. They lead 14-13 at the half, barring the unexpected in the final :03. Someone should check Porterie's ID. His last second heroics look a lot like Isaiah Stanback's a few years ago. Has anyone seen the two of them in the same room?
5:09 in the halftime
Word it the personal foul was on one of the UA coaches who said something to the officials when they approached the huddle during the timeout.
:07 in the halftime
The start of the second half is being delayed just a bit as they are trying to clean confetti off of the field. I think it came from one of the youth football teams that were playing on the field at the half.
15:00 left in the third
Really bad kick goes out of bounds. For some reason the Cats don't want the ball where it rolled out of bound. They want the ball in Devin Ross's hands.
15:54 left in the third
The move almost paid huge dividends. Ross returns it 33 yards and was two players away from breaking it.
14:46 left in the third
Tui has all day to throw and connects with Anthony Johnson on a 21-yard gain. Maybe that is the play to wake him up. Johnson has at least three drops tonight. All would have been tough catches, but all three hit him in the hands.
12:31 left in the third
As Bill Walton would say "that play was HOOOORRRRRIBBBBBLE." Cats try a quick pitch, which Jennings can't handle. The running back scoops up the ball deeeeep in the backfield. Instead of falling on it, he tries to advance it and ends up losing even more yardage. The smoke clears and it is a 19-yard loss on first down.
11:01 left in the third
Two plays later and the Cats get all the yardage back and more. Passes to Johnson and Terrell Turner give the Cats first and goal at the six. And to think, Dick Tome would probably have pooch punted on second and 29.
9:47 left in the third
Disaster for the Cats. Tuitama fumbles the snap, gathers it in, scrambles, tries to score and fumbles after being hit at the one. UNM recovers and almost takes it to the house. Mike Thomas tracks down OJ Swift at the 41, saving a touchdown.
The Cats have 266 yards of total offense and just 13 points. They've now missed a short field goal and turned the ball over at the goal line.
9:28 left in the third
The Cats appear to be channeling the Raiders. Another personal foul, this one for roughing the passer, has the Lobos moving the ball. The penalty is followed up by a 1-yard run and a long completion and New Mexico has the ball at the Arizona 16.
7:42 left in the third
The defense stiffens and force UNM into a field goal try. Kick is good and the Lobos now lead by four, 17-13.
6:45 left in the third
Something to keep an eye on, UNM place kicker John Sullivan limped off the field. Replay shows a diving Fontenot landed on his foot which was on the ground after the kick.
5:52 left in the third
Tuitama goes deep and is picked off…or is it? His deep ball is deflected inside the five and Clint McPeek comes down with it. The ruling on the field is an interception, but ot looks like it may be overruled on replay. Considering it was third and long, the Cats would actually be better off if the Lobos are awarded the ball. They'd have it at their own four-yard line. If the Cats have to punt, what are the odds they'd pin them that deep.
Play is overturned, Cats will presumably punt.
5:43 left in the third
It was a terrible punt. The Lobos now have the ball at their own 31. They gained 27 yards on the reversal.
Before the kick, which was about 25 yards, he was averaging 58.0 yards a punt. My math skills are not great, but the average should drop a little. (I did the math, it has dropped to 47, still pretty good.)
5:11 left in the third
More Raider football. Facing third and five, Louis Holmes jumps offsides giving UNM the first down.
4:56 left in the third
Woody Hayes is rolling in his grave. The teams have over 530 yards of total offense, yet have COMBINED for just 81 yards.
On fourth and less than one, Holmes just jumped offsides again. He gives the Lobos another first down. This defense has been undisciplined all night.
4:22 left in the third
Lobos in business again. After the penalty they go twice to Marcus Smith and now have first and goal from just inside the 10.
3:26 left in the third
One good turn deserves another. UNM's Rodney Ferguson just fumbled at the one. Cats recover now have 99-yards of field ahead of them if they want to take the lead.
1:59 left in the third
Two Lobos walk into the UA backfield and flush Tuitama. He panics, throws the ball away and is called for intentional grounding. The penalty occurs in the endzone, resulting in a safety. Lobos now up 19-13.
0:13 left in the third
The sound you hear is the air whooshing out of the Wildcat fans. On third and five Smith is wide open and Porterie hits a WIDE OPEN Smith who strolls into the endzone. The Lobos lead 26-13.
0:00 left in the third
The Arizona offense scored on their first two possessions and have just 3 points since. Although they have moved the ball, they can't punch it in and have yet to really slow UNM in the second half.
13:53 left in the fourth
Cats are moving. Tuitama hits Mike Thomas on a streak down the right sideline for a big gain. On the same play it looked like Turner was open as well for what would have gone for at least 35 yards.
13:17 left in the fourth
I don't want to say that this has been a lackluster defensive effort, but the "Hit of the Game" on the jumbotron went to the pee-wee teams that played at the half.
13:12 left in the fourth
For about the fourth time in the game the Cats have gone to the timing pattern in the endzone. They are now 0-4.
13:06 left in the fourth
Before I could suggest they not go back to that play, they do…and score! Tuitama and Thomas connect on the play and the Cats are within six, 26-20. Now the defense needs to hold for two reasons. 1) The Cats' offense has not proven it can score twice. 2) I have a bet with a friend that the Cats will not surrender 30 or more points to any team other than USC. Yes, I fully admit that Cal and Oregon scare me, if UNM does not beat them to the punch.
12:19 left in the fourth
The defense is not tackling well. Ferguson has 14 yards on his last two carries, both saw him originally hit near the line of scrimmage… 11:47 left in the fourth
However, Porterie is not so fortunate. He is sacked for a loss of six. Two plays later the Lobos will punt. The worrisome thing is Porterie had all day to throw and just over threw an open receiver what could have been a huge gain.
10:05 left in the fourth
Speaking of huge gains. Tuitama and Thomas connect on a 42-yard gain. Tuitama airs it out for Thomas who makes a difficult catch.
9:34 left in the fourth
Bad news, good news. Jennings fumbles at the UNM 22. The Lobos look to score but OJ Swift falls down trying to cut the ball inside. As it is the Lobos have the ball inside UA territory. Even worse, Jennings fumbles because he hits his own blocker and has to be helped off the field.
7:49 left in the fourth
Cats playing he field position battle. Although they hold on third down, they accept a holding penalty in hopes of hurting UNM's FG chances. UNM picks up 10 on first down and will attempt a 44-yarder…which is good. UNM leads 29-20. Cats now need the two scores.
5:00 left in the fourth
In the time since I leave the press box until I get to the field, the Cats score again. Unfortunately the Cats could not complete the comeback. As they left the field fans were fighting over hecklers. Some wanted to jeer the Wildcats, others were defending them.