It was almost a comeback, but the word “almost” doesn’t matter at the end of the day.
The Lobo defense struggled on Saturday evening in a 52-43 loss to the Liberty Flames during the New Mexico homecoming game. Prior to this, the Lobos had won three straight homecoming games.
New Mexico’s opening drive saw 75 yards in four plays within 81 seconds. This allowed the team a 7-0 lead right away, but things didn’t go so well after that. The first two quarters were a mess for the home team as the Flames went into halftime with a 42-10 lead. Liberty’s Stephen “Buckshot” Calvert threw 264 yards and three touchdowns during this period. He finished the night with a total of 417 yards.
The defense finally woke up in the third quarter, not allowing Liberty any points. But although UNM outscore the opponent 33-10 in the last two quarters, the first half deficit was too much to overcome.
“First of all, credit to Liberty. We have played a lot of games in this stadium, the quarterback put on a performance and played a great game.” said UNM head coach Bob Davie. “I really appreciate the effort in the second half, you guys can imagine going in there at 42-10 at halftime and what all that entailed. I was proud of the effort in the second half.”
The Lobos are now 2-2 in the season and have lost some key players due to injuries including starting Tevaka Tuioti, who suffered a clavicle fracture and is scheduled to have surgery on Monday. Coltin Gerhart is still out with a foot injury. This leaves Sheriron Jones as the starting quarterback and true freshman Trae Hall is the official backup.
Jones helped the Lobos get a win against New Mexico State two weeks ago, and he was on the field on Saturday when New Mexico was working on a comeback. His 79-yard touchdown pass to Pat Reed during the third quarter was a career-long pass for him and a career-long reception for Reed.
Tyrone Owens recorded two rushing touchdowns. He now has 19 throughout his career.
This was the first meeting between the two teams and the first victory for Liberty (2-2) against a Mountain West opponent. Prior to the game, Davie had said that although Liberty was not a well-known name in college football, the Flames shouldn’t be underestimated.
The Lobos will be on the road for the next two weeks. They open conference play when they face UNLV on Oct. 6 and continue as they travel to Colorado State on Oct. 13.