The complaint from the Lobo soccer team has taken a troubling turn in the past week or so.
In eight days, the University of New Mexico went from a promising 2-1 start and dancing visions of Bowl eligibility to looking inward for answers that may not be there.
The Lobos (2-3 total, 0-1 at Mountain West) were torn apart by the Air Force’s triple option offensive on Saturday night at University Stadium, losing 38-10 in a game that was never close.
The Falcons (4-1, 1-1) held UNM in the first half with a single first down, using their antiquated but artistic running game to devour the distance and the music box, losing the Lobos for the second year in a row.
“We have enough talent to be competitive,” said New Mexico coach Danny Gonzales. “We don’t have enough talent to destroy ourselves and be competitive as you saw tonight.”
Gonzales was referring to the kind of things that don’t show up on the statistics sheets, like failing to cover a loose ball in an Air Force fumble, failing to assign blocking schemes, and not making adjustments to stop an opponent.
It also refers to things that are more obvious, like defense doing a better job the third time (Air Force converted 9 out of 15 tries and was 3 for 3 the fourth time) and getting more power out of an offensive line That did little to protect quarterback Terry Wilson or make holes for the running backs.
Wilson ended up passing 179 yards, but much of that came in the second half after the Falcons opened a 24-point lead. At some point towards the end of the first half, the Falcons had played 42 games against UNM’s 13 and dominated the game with an endless barrage of full-backs and outward option games.
It was not until the 38th attack by the Falcons that they attempted a pass. It was a 33 yard graduation for Brandon Lewis, only one of two throws (with a graduation) made quarterback Haaziq Daniels’ entire game. The team’s other 408 yards had 73 lavish games.
“It’s just great football,” said Joey Noble, UNM defensive lineman.
“That full-back dive that we tried to stop; I’ll admit to the Air Force offensive, they’re good runners. They never stop, ”he added.
Noble had 18 tackles and a sack, while he and defensive back Jerrick Reed had 32 stops.
It was nowhere near enough.
The Falcons scored one goal on their first four possession of the ball, with 42 games in drives that lasted 22 minutes and 40 seconds in the first half.
The Lobos responded with two turns and four punts in their first six drives. It wasn’t until Wilson threw a 21-yard touchdown pass to Trae Hall in the third quarter that UNM finally cleared the zero on the scoreboard.
“We have to change the fine details of something we do in the football office because if a detail is missing on the football field, you let it go elsewhere,” said Gonzales.
Gonzales did not say whether that means a change in personnel or a change in coaching style. He complained about the performance of the offense, saying that things had to be fixed before proceeding.
“They are, you know, the coaches,” said Wilson. “I should have that explained to you. It is not my position to really talk about it. Whatever changes, I’m done with it. “
5-0-5 For life: Air Force running back Brad Roberts had 142 yards on 29 carries with two touchdowns. It has propelled him over the 1,000 yard mark for his career, as he later pointed out.
Last season he ran 177 yards and three touchdowns in a 28-0 win over UNM.
Not so friendly heaven: The Lobos went six quarters without a goal against the Falcons and eventually ended the drought with Wilson’s TD pass to Hall in the second half. Up until that point, the Lobos had only had one touchdown on their previous 36 ball possession this season.
Hall’s touchdown was the ninth of the season for the Lobos.
All nine were scored by different players.
The team’s top scorer is kicker Andrew Shelley. His field goal and his extra point in Saturday’s game bring him 30 points. The other nine players each have six points.
Must be in the first row: The announced attendance on Saturday was 13,158 – or about 1,000 more than New Mexico United’s average for their inaugural season at Isotopes Park.
Security breach: Two fans ran across the field in the fourth quarter and jumped onto the field in the northern end zone just as Roberts dived over the goal line in the southern end zone to open a 38-7 lead.
The pair was running the full length of the field near the Air Force sideline when the ball was snatched. Both escaped from several uniformed police officers in the southeast corner, jumped over a fence and ran unspoiled up the grassy hill before disappearing behind the huge tree that stands in the stadium. Only one officer pursued.
Next: The Lobos travel to SoCal next week to take on the state of San Diego.
The Aztecs are playing their home games in Carson, California, south of Los Angeles, in their second season.
SDSU is building a brand new soccer stadium on the site of the old Jack Murphy Stadium, which used to be the home of the Aztecs, San Diego Chargers and San Diego Padres.