Lobos explode, dominate UNLV 50-14 in conference opener
The University of New Mexico football team erupted in the second quarter of Saturday’s Mountain West Conference opener at UNLV, scoring 29 unanswered points en route to a 50-14 blowout at Sam Boyd Stadium.
The Lobos (3-2 overall, 1-0 MWC) were led by quarterback Sheriron Jones. The junior passed for 250 yards and four touchdowns while rushing for a team-high 72 yards. It was his second straight four-touchdown game and the team’s third of the season.
Neither team scored in the first quarter. Playing with the wind at their backs in the second quarter, the Lobos got the break they needed when linebacker Evahelotu Tohi stepped in front of a Max Gilliam pass and returned it to the Rebels’ 14 to set up the first of five scoring plays in the quarter.
Zahneer Shuler scored the first of his two rushing touchdowns on a 1-yard dive on the first play of the second quarter, giving the Lobos a 6-0 lead. Tyrone Owens added a 1-yard scoring run of his own five minutes later, followed by a field goal from Andrew Shelley to open a 15-0 lead.
Jones then laced a 74-yard touchdown pass to a streaking Elijah Lilly. New Mexico capped the first-half barrage with 17 seconds left when Jones hit Anselem Umeh on a 26-yard pass to the right side of the end zone.
As impressive as the offense was, the biggest eye-opener of the first half was UNM’s defense. Shredded in three of their first four games this season — they’d given up at least 550 yards of offense in those outings — the unit didn’t give up a first down to UNLV until the final two minutes of the second quarter.
The Lobos forced two turnovers and nine punts while stopping the Rebels once on fourth down. One of UNLV’s longest plays of the day came on a 14-yard fake punt by Hayes Hicken in the second half.
Shuler and Owens combined for 98 yards rushing and three touchdowns.
New Mexico was in line for a rare shutout until the fourth quarter when the Rebels (2-3, 0-1) scored twice after the Lobos had built a 36-0 lead. UNLV didn’t get to the 100-yard mark on offense until seven minutes were left in the game.
UNM finished with 502 yards offense, getting 252 on the ground. The Rebels generated just 166 yards and Gilliam finished 15-for-35 passing for 123 yards. The Lobos sacked him five times, including once from the team leader in that category, Rhashaun Epting. He now has 5.5 on the season.
The 36-point margin of victory was UNM’s largest in a conference road game since the the Lobos beat UTEP 56-7 way back in 1972.
The Lobos will remain on the road for another MWC game next week as they head to Colorado State.