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New Mexico uses big-play strikes to upset Boise State 31-24


BOISE, Idaho — With the New Mexico state flag draped over them, most of the New Mexico Lobos players lingered on Boise State's famed blue turf and snapped photos long after their 31-24 victory over the Broncos on Saturday night.

And who could blame them for wanting to document the moment?

New Mexico (6-4, 4-2 Mountain West) notched its biggest win of the Bob Davie era — and arguably in school history — and are now in an unexpected position to win the Mountain Division after being picked to finish last in the media preseason poll. It was the Lobos' first win over Boise State in seven tries.

And the Lobos did it in surprising fashion, jumping ahead 14-3 at halftime and never falling behind.

"The atmosphere in the locker room at halftime was just so excited and energetic," said Davie, whose team is 6-5 in its last 11 conference games while going 5-41 before that. "I told the guys to calm down. And in the fourth quarter you could tell we hadn't been there before.

"But with that said, this team's aggressiveness, resiliency and toughness — I think we turned a corner here tonight."

New Mexico's opportunistic defense yielded 638 yards but forced four turnovers, two of which were in the red zone.

Boise State (7-3, 4-2), which took over the second-longest active home winning streak in FBS at 18 games after Baylor lost earlier Saturday, had won 21 straight after a bye week.

"Bottom line is we have to be better than what we practiced and it has to show up in the games," Boise State coach Bryan Harsin said. "We're always going to fight and try to give ourselves a chance at the end of the game, but we should've never been in that position."

Trailing 31-24 with one second remaining on its 40, Boise State nearly pulled off its own miracle ending when a series of laterals gave Austin Cottrell the ball deep in New Mexico territory before Markel Byrd stopped him on the Lobos 3.

It was a desperate prayer after New Mexico had been in control most of the game behind quarterback Austin Apodoca's big-play strikes and Jhurell Pressley's 132-yard rushing performance.

With the score tied at 17, New Mexico scored two touchdowns in a span of 1:35 to help the Lobos take what turned out to be an insurmountable lead.

Moments after Boise State tied the game on Brett Rypien's 18-yard screen pass to Jeremy McNichols, Apodoca hit Delane Hart-Johnson on an 81-yard pass on second-and-17. Hart-Johnson was dragged down at the 1, and then Richard McQuarley dove into the end zone on the next play to give New Mexico a 24-17 lead with 13:44 remaining.

On Boise State's next possession, Cranston Jones intercepted Rypien's pass after it deflected off Chaz Anderson's hands at the Broncos 30.

Three plays later, Teriyon Gipson scored on a 4-yard run as New Mexico led 31-17 with 12:09 left in the game.

Boise State ran 114 offensive plays to New Mexico's 53. The Broncos drove inside the Lobos 30 three times after falling behind 31-17, finally scoring on Rypien's 28-yard pass to Brett Roh with 2:16 remaining.

New Mexico recovered an onside kick attempt, but couldn't run out the clock before giving Boise State one final chance that ended 3 yards short.

Rypien set a career-high in passing with 40-of-74 for 503 yards, two touchdowns and three interceptions. Thomas Sperbeck set a single-game school record with 20 receptions for 281 yards. McNichols rushed for 134 yards on 25 carries.

New Mexico's Apodoca was 8-of-12 passing for 172 yards and one interception.

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