A 33-yard field goal by New Mexico senior kicker Kenny Byrd sailed through the uprights as time expired to give the Lobos a 20-19 victory over CSU Saturday.
“Not to sound cocky or anything,” said Byrd, moments after his game-winning kick. “But I kind of knew it was going to be on me.”
Byrd’s field goal capped off a 10-play, 63-yard drive by UNM, which was led by freshman quarterback Donovan Porterie to propel the Lobos to their third straight conference victory.
Bird was lifted into the air on the shoulders of his teammates moments after his game-winning kick.
Two Damon Morton touchdowns and a pair of Jason Smith field goals were not enough to prevent the Rams from losing their third consecutive conference game.
“We could all look at it and see five or six plays that we could do differently,” said Head Coach Sonny Lubick in his post-game news conference.
“That’s a mark of not playing good.”
It is the first time since Lubick took over as head coach that the Rams have lost three consecutive conference games.
Lobos scored on its first drive of the game on a sophomore Rodney Furguson 5-yard touchdown run to lead the Rams 7-0.
The Rams failed to score for the seventh consecutive quarter and Byrd made his first attempt from 39-yards to give New Mexico a 10-lead after the first quarter.
Junior quarterback Caleb Hanie finished the game with 25 completions for 254 yards and two touchdowns.
Morton’s second touchdown grab, a sensational one-handed 30-yard catch, gave the Rams a 19-10 lead in the last minutes of the third quarter, but a botched snap on the extra point attempt limited the Rams’ lead to nine points-the eventual difference in the game.
Despite the missed extra point, the CSU defense looked to be playing too well at the time to give up two scores to an offense that was held under 200 total yards through three quarters.
But senior Lobo linebacker Quincey Black intercepted a Hanie pass minutes into the fourth quarter to set up New Mexico with great field position at the CSU 35-yardline.
On the very next play, Porterie connected with junior wide receiver Travis Brown for a 35-yard touchdown pass to cut CSU’s lead to 19-17.
CSU sophomore kicker Jason Smith missed a field goal attempt from 42-yards with nine minutes remaining in the fourth quarter to keep the score a 19-17.
Porterie fumbled the snap of the first play of the last drive, but recovered the football for no gain.
The freshman then went on to complete all three passes for 33 yards to improve to 3-0 as a starter.
“Whoever had the ball at the end of the game was going to win it,” said coach Lubick.
“We have to go back to the drawing board,” said junior denfensive end Jesse Nading after the game in a dead-silent CSU locker room. “We have worked too hard to let games fall by the wayside like that.”
Football beat writer Sean Star can be reached at email@example.com.