The double-digit underdog Lobos went into Tucson with a ton of motivation. Early Friday morning I spoke with senior Tyson Ditmore and he said that they had heard their quarterback (Willie Tuitama) was talking about putting fifty points on the Lobos. "We are going to have to go in there and play hard and get some hits on him."
Sounded like a good plan… With that in mind Saturday the Lobos took the field of Wildcat Stadium, but it wasn't the defense that started off it was the offense with reigning MWC offensive player of the week Donovan Porterie at the helm. Porterie quickly guided the Lobos on an 80 yard 7:46 drive going 8-8 and hitting Travis Brown on a nice 1 handed snare of the ball as he was falling down for the lead.
The Lobo defense on the other hand did have their hands full as Tuitama and the AZ offense was running that spread gimmick "air raid" offense made popular by Texas Tech.
In back to back possessions the AZ offense quickly put up 10 points on the board on quick hitting drives and the 50-point threat was looming large in the 2nd quarter.
Meanwhile the Lobo offense was sputtering as the Arizona defense put the clamps on Rodney Ferguson and the running game. The Lobo defense also stiffened holding Arizona to a field goal midway in the 2nd quarter for a 13-7 lead.
With 1:08 seconds left in the 1st half the Lobos had the ball at their own 20 and looking like they were willing to go into the locker room with a six point deficit on the road as they handed the ball off to Paul Baker on 1st and 2nd down for minimal gains. Arizona feeling like they had enough time called time out and the Lobos came to the line of scrimmage on 3rd and three and rather than run the ball again Donovan Porterie hit Marcus Smith with an 18 yard strike, on the next play a 13 yard shot to Rodney and a timeout and that is when the weirdness set in.
During the timeout Arizona picked up a 15-yard unsportsmanlike penalty putting the Lobos in easy field goal position and a shot at the end zone. The ensuing play by UNM was nothing short of disaster as Porterie was sacked for a 6 yard loss and when the Lobos lined up for 2nd down they were called for false start giving them 2nd and 21 out of field goal range and single digits on the game clock. Hand off to Baker or Ferguson and run out the half right? Wrong! Donovan dropped back and hit a streaking Travis Brown in the end zone for his 2nd touchdown of the night and a 14-13 halftime lead in the rainy desert!
With a lead the Arizona offense marched out with a vengeance moving down the field seemingly at will, getting to the Lobo 5 yard line and about to go for the go ahead score. Tuitama dropped back and was quickly flushed out of the pocket by the Lobo D! As many of you now know Tuitama was injured last season by multiple concussions and doesn't like to run the ball. He has the ability, just doesn't want to be knocked out of the game. Still he had daylight and made his move to the end zone when George Carter poked the ball out of his hands, the fumble was picked up by OJ Swift who took off with a convoy of Lobos the other way! One missed block or OJ would be celebrating a TD. Still the Lobos were able to stop Arizona in the red zone. UNM was able to score their own field goal giving a nice 10-point turnaround. Huge play from the Lobo D!
The two teams traded some possessions and the Lobos found themselves on their own 31. Porterie started moving the team hitting Marcus Smith and taking the Lobos into the red zone. Arizona stiffened and forced a Ferguson fumble they recovered on the 2-yard line. After a pair of running plays Tuitama drops back into the end zone and vicious rush put on by the Lobos forced Willie to just flip the ball out rather than take a sack. A big problem for the AZ quarterback however, there wasn't a receiver in the area. The yellow hankie came out intentional grounding and a safety for UNM!
The Lobos took the free kick and Porterie looking like a polished veteran used the time provided by his offensive line to hit Travis Brown for a big gain… 2 plays later Porterie hurls a pass to wide open Marcus Smith for a touchdown and 26-13 score.
Arizona wasn't going to give up and they quickly went to work with their superstar receivers scoring a touchdown. The Lobo offense stalled and Arizona had the ball back with momentum and the home crowd back into it. Tuitama hit Mike Thomas for a 38 yard bomb setting the Wildcats up for a go ahead touchdown. On the ensuing play OJ Swift knocked the ball out of the Arizona runners hands, scooped it up and with a convoy of blockers started moving towards the end zone… Unfortunately, for UNM and OJ he tripped making a cutback and the Lobo offense had to get back on the field!
The AZ defense was up to the task as they held the Lobos to 3 plays setting up a John Sullivan 44 yard boot that was up the middle and had distance to go for a 29-20 score!
Arizona stormed back and was able to score another touchdown, shut down the Lobo offense once again three and out and UNM was forced to punt giving Arizona plenty of time for a field goal attempt and victory. Tuitama went for it deep but great coverage and interception gave the Lobos the ball back.
Still the offense needed one first down to seal the deal and when you need that yard. Go to your bruising back. Give it to Rodney! 1st down no gain, 2nd down 3 yards, 3rd down, Rodney spins breaks a tackle, runs through a swipe, loses a shoe, spins, bounces, and powers his way for a 17 yard run securing the victory in the desert!
Couple of thought!
The Lobos have played the Arizona gimmick offense lately with much success as they have victories vs. Texas Tech, NMSU, and now Arizona.
Donovan Porterie gave up his first interception.
While the Lobo defense did give up a lot of yards, they made huge plays in the playing game. Major props to the Lobo defensive backfield, they were up to the task and had tough players to cover.
Did anyone notice on Marcus Smith's touchdown that it was a play action pump fake to the short receiver? Man did Baldwin have Arizona's defense fooled on that play.
First victory over a PAC-10 team in a lifetime!
Give us back our rifle!