Wildcats Fall to Lobos, 36-28
Sept. 13, 2008
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) - Rodney Ferguson ran for 158 yards and two touchdowns and freshman James Aho tied a school record with five field goals to help New Mexico beat Arizona 36-28 on Saturday night.
Ferguson, a bruising tailback, also tossed a 25-yard trick play scoring pass to quarterback Donovan Porterie and the Lobos (1-2) beat the mistake-prone Wildcats (2-1) for the second straight year.
It was a big night for New Mexico's defense, which stopped the Wildcats on downs 22 yards from the end zone early in the fourth quarter, and got another big play when Glover Quin intercepted Willie Tuitama's pass near midfield with just under 8 minutes remaining.
Tuitama, who was 27-of-50 for 321 yards and three TDs, got the Wildcats to 36-28, throwing a 28-yard TD strike to Juron Criner with 4:38 to play.
Arizona used its timeouts to slow the clock on New Mexico's ensuing possession and got the ball back with 1:27 to go.
Tuitama's fourth-down attempt to Mike Thomas was incomplete with 40 seconds left, setting off a celebration on New Mexico's sideline.
The series is one of the oldest for both schools, dating to 1908, but the Wildcats haven't visited Albuquerque since 1990. They won't want to return after losing three fumbles and Tuitama was intercepted twice.
New Mexico scored 19 points off those turnovers - four field goals by Aho and a huge TD only 18 seconds into the second half.
The Lobos got an emotional lift when Clint McPeek forced a fumble by Arizona's Nic Grigsby on the first play from scrimmage in the third quarter, and Quin returned it 29 yards to the Arizona 10.
Ferguson ran to the end zone on the next snap, stretching to move the ball across the goal line. The TD was upheld after a replay review, and the Lobos led 27-14 after just two second-half plays from scrimmage.
New Mexico's defense set the tone midway through the first quarter, forcing their first turnover when lineman Brett Kennedy caught Tuitama's screen pass and returned it 22 yards to set up Aho's first field goal, a 24-yard effort.
Grigsby's 4-yard TD run in the third quarter pulled Arizona to 27-21 but Aho, who kicked a 43-yard field goal in the second period, was good from 48 and 42 yards as the Lobos made it 33-21 early in the fourth.
His fourth field goal came after New Mexico's Ian Clark sacked Tuitama, forcing another fumble, and Kendall Briscoe recovered.
Arizona scored 111 points in wins over Idaho and Toledo in Tucson, but New Mexico's defense offered a tougher test.
The Lobos, who struggled early in homefield losses to TCU and Texas A&M, ended a skid of 11 straight losses when their opponent scores first. The Wildcats led 7-0 when Tuitama connected with Thomas on a 43-yard scoring pass.
New Mexico rallied to lead 20-14 at halftime, aided by a first-quarter trick play where Ferguson tossed a 25-yard TD pass to Porterie. Aho kicked field goals of 24 and 43 yards and Ferguson broke a 25-yard run just before the break.