PROVO -- New Mexico kept its bowl hopes alive with a 20-16 victory over BYU on Saturday, marking the first Lobo victory in Provo since 1971.
Credited with 13 of the Cougars' 16 points, the BYU defense had another strong outing. Jon Burbidge picked off his second pass of the year, returning it 80 yards for a touchdown. Burbidges interception marked the longest interception return for a touchdown since Brian Mitchell returned a 97-yarder against New Mexico in 1989. The defense also produced one sack, eight hurries, two interceptions, one fumble recovery, a touchdown, denied the Lobos a two-point conversion, and forced New Mexico to go three-and-out seven different times.
On the other end of the ball, the Cougar offense struggled to get things going all night.
The Cougars managed just 188 yards, including 94 yards rushing and 94 yards passing. BYU quarterback Matt Berry was an uncharacteristic 9-of-26 passing for 81 yards, two interceptions and no touchdowns.
Running back Marcus Whalen entered the game needing only 149 yards to pass the 1,000-yard rushing mark on the season. He recorded 60 yards on the night on 17 carries, leaving him 79 yards short heading into next week's regular-season finale against Utah.
The game started off in the Cougars favor, but a few momentum changes decided the game for the Cougars.
For the second time in three games, the Cougars jumped out to a 10-0 lead in the first quarter, but this time it was the defense that provided much of the BYU momentum.
With 7:12 left in the first quarter, Burbidge picked off New Mexico's quarterback Casey Kelly and returned the ball 80 yards to put BYU up 7-0.
After trading possessions the Cougar defense got the ball back for the Cougars when safety Chad Barney forced the Lobo's running back Dontrell More to fumble the ball on the Lobos' 24-yard line where linebacker Mike Tanner recovered the football.
The Cougar offense capitalized on the turnover with a 32-yard Matt Payne field goal with 00:15 left in the first quarter.
The second quarter belonged to the Lobos as they outscored the Cougars 14-3 and to take the lead going into half time 14-13.
On the Cougars' third play of the second quarter, New Mexico safety Brand Ratcliff stepped in front of a Berry pass and returned it 50 yards before being drug down on the Cougar two-yard line by wide receiver Rod Wilkerson.
Ratciff's interception set up the Lobos' first score of the game, a one-yard run by Dontrell Moore to bring the Lobos within three after the extra point.
With the clock winding down in the first half and the Cougars facing fourth and three, Payne faked a punt and took it 28 yards for the first down.
Payne's run would set up the Cougars' lone score of the quarter, a career long field goal from 52 yards out that brought BYU within one at 14-13 to end the half.
At the end of the half, Berry took a shot to the head and stomach that led to nausea during half time. Quarterback Todd Mortensen led the Cougar's first two offensive possessions when the team returned to the field.
With 8:20 left in the third quarter, Cougar safety Chad Barney intercepted the ball on the Lobos' 24-yard line, and put the Cougars in scoring position.
Berry returned to the game after the turnover, but the Cougar offense had to settle for another Payne field goal.
Payne connected from 37 yards out on his third consecutive field goal of the night to give the Cougars back the lead at 16-14.
After being held scoreless in the third quarter, the Lobos fired back in the fourth scoring on a two-yard run by Moore that put New Mexico up 20-16.
The Lobos decided to go for the two-point conversion and the Cougar defense managed to stop the attempt, but a personal foul on BYU would give the Lobos another shot to come up with two.
On the second attempt the Cougar defense once again held their ground, denying Moore the end zone and held he Lobos to a four-point lead with 7:59 remaining in the game.
With 2:26 remaining the Cougars had one more chance to score.
On first down, Berry completed a 22-yard pass to wide receiver Justin Anderson. The catch gave the Cougars a first down on their own 34-yard line.
But two incomplete passes, a rush for a loss of three, and Berry's second interception on the night, sealed the win for the Lobos.
The 5-6 Cougars will be looking to save their bowl chances next weekend at Utah, and dodge their first losing season since Lavell Edwards' second season in 1973. The Cougars head into next week's regular-season showdown at Rice-Eccles Stadium in Salt Lake City with a 5-6 record, while the Utes are 4-6.
Kick-off for the game is scheduled at 1:00 p.m. (MDT).
Box Score (Final)
Score by Quarters 1 2 3 4 Score
----------------- -- -- -- -- -----
New Mexico.......... 0 14 0 6 - 20 Record: (6-5,4-1)
Brigham Young....... 10 3 3 0 - 16 Record: (5-6,2-4)
1st 07:05 BYU - BURBIDGE, Jon 80 yd interception return (PAYNE, Matt kick)
UNM 0 - BYU 7
00:15 BYU - PAYNE, Matt 32 yd field goal, 7-10 2:39, UNM 0 - BYU 10
2nd 12:00 UNM - Moore, Dontrell 1 yd run (Byrd, Kenny kick), 2-2 0:42,
UNM 7 - BYU 10
02:52 UNM - Counter, Dwight 7 yd pass from Kelly, Casey
(Byrd, Kenny kick), 17-82 8:02, UNM 14 - BYU 10
00:27 BYU - PAYNE, Matt 52 yd field goal, 8-37 2:25, UNM 14 - BYU 13
3rd 06:20 BYU - PAYNE, Matt 37 yd field goal, 4-6 1:53, UNM 14 - BYU 16
4th 07:59 UNM - Moore, Dontrell 2 yd run (Moore, Dontrell rush failed),
6-76 2:14, UNM 20 - BYU 16
FIRST DOWNS................... 14 10
RUSHES-YARDS (NET)............ 49-145 30-94
PASSING YDS (NET)............. 155 94
Passes Att-Comp-Int........... 22-11-2 32-11-2
TOTAL OFFENSE PLAYS-YARDS..... 71-300 62-188
Fumble Returns-Yards.......... 0-0 0-0
Punt Returns-Yards............ 3-14 5-59
Kickoff Returns-Yards......... 3-35 4-88
Interception Returns-Yards.... 2-50 2-80
Punts (Number-Avg)............ 8-43.0 8-44.4
Fumbles-Lost.................. 2-1 0-0
Penalties-Yards............... 4-37 6-29
Possession Time............... 34:41 25:19
Sacks By: Number-Yards........ 2-20 1-2
RUSHING: New Mexico-Moore, Dontrell 26-93; Boyd, Adrian 8-57; Manning, Joe
1-4; NM Team Stats 1-minus 1; Kelly, Casey 13-minus 8. Brigham Young-WHALEN,
Marcus 17-53; PAYNE, Matt 1-28; CHRISTENSEN, To 1-9; BROWN, Curtis 4-5;
PENDLETON, Lanc 1-4; BERRY, Matt 6-minus 5.
PASSING: New Mexico-Kelly, Casey 11-22-2-155. Brigham Young-BERRY, Matt
9-26-2-81; MORTENSEN, Todd 2-6-0-13.
RECEIVING: New Mexico-Boyd, Adrian 4-99; Moore, Dontrell 3-24; Thomas,
Terrenc 2-22; Counter, Dwight 1-7; Manning, Joe 1-3. Brigham Young-MAHE,
Reno 4-35; NEAD, Spencer 3-17; ANDERSON, Justi 2-27; WILKERSON, Rod 2-15.
INTERCEPTIONS: New Mexico-Ratcliff, Brand 1-50; Moss, Charles 1-0. Brigham
Young-BURBIDGE, Jon 1-80; DUNHAM, Tyson 1-0.
FUMBLES: New Mexico-Kelly, Casey 1-0; Moore, Dontrell 1-1. Brigham
Stadium: Edwards Stadium Attendance: 60764
Kickoff time: 4:07 pm End of Game: 7:23 pm Total elapsed time: 3:16
Officials: Referee: Clair Gausman; Umpire: Gary Crum; Linesman: Brian Matthew;
Line judge: Robert Bahne; Back judge: Terry Leyden; Field judge: Kim Nelson;
Side judge: Ken Lucido;
Temperature: 52 F Wind: none Weather: high thin clouds
SACKS (UA-A): New Mexico-Coulter, Kyle 1-1; Fashola, Fola 0-1. Brigham
Young-NUA, Shaun 1-0.
TACKLES (UA-A): New Mexico-Speegle, Nick 3-4; Moss, Charles 2-5; Fashola,
Fola 1-5; Wiley, Sidney 1-4; Gregory, Brando 3-1; Golden, Terrell 2-2;
Coulter, Kyle 2-2; Parker, Marcus 1-3; Bazinet, Josh 3-0; Josue, Hebrews
2-1; Renteria, D.J. 1-2; Strother, Billy 0-3; Ratcliff, Brand 0-3; Black,
Desmar 2-0; Flakes, Curtis 1-0; Malone, Jerrell 1-0; Selander, Joe 1-0;
Morrison, Guill 1-0; Harris, Chrisho 1-0; Kegler, Daniel 1-0; Farrel, Jake
0-1; Gawronski, Dan 0-1; Rupp, Zach 0-1; Mohoric, Mike 0-1; Sanders,Rashaun
0-1. Brigham Young-BOCKWOLDT, Colb 7-3; PILI, Ifo 5-4; BURBIDGE, Jon 5-3;
WALKENHORST, Pa 5-2; MARQUARDT, Dani 4-2; NUA, Shaun 3-2; TANNER, Mike 0-5;
FRANCISCO, Aaro 3-1; KEHL, Bryan 2-2; NIELSEN, Kip 1-2; BEVERLEY, Kish 2-0;
BARNEY, Chad 2-0; COWART, Jeff 1-1; WILKERSON, Rod 1-0; POPPINGA, Brady 1-0;
ATKINSON, Bryan 0-1; PAYNE, Matt 0-1; DENNEY, John 0-1; GILFORD, Jernar 0-1;
STEVENS, Chris 0-1.