Albuquerque, NM (SportsNetwork.com) - Cole Gautsche accounted for three touchdowns as the New Mexico Lobos held on for a 45-37 victory over the Air Force Falcons in a Mountain West Conference battle at University Stadium.
Gautsche's only completion on three pass attempts resulted in a touchdown and he also tallied 140 yards and a pair of scores on 20 attempts for New Mexico (3-6, 1-4 MWC). Kasey Carrier racked up 179 yards on 27 carries while Jhurrel Pressley rushed four times for 87 yards and a pair of touchdowns. The win snapped the Lobos' three-game losing slide.
Nate Romine completed 15-of-23 pass attempts for 188 yards and three touchdowns while also adding a score on the ground to lead Air Force (2-8, 0-6), which was coming off of a 42-28 win over Army. Garrett Griffin made four receptions for 56 yards and a touchdown while Anthony LaCoste paced the Falcons on the ground with 177 yards on 21 attempts.
The Lobos took an early lead with back-to-back touchdowns in the opening frame. Gautsche completed a 28-yard touchdown pass to Jeric Magnant at the 10:26 mark of the first quarter for the first score of the game. Gautsche then rushed one-yard across the goal line with just over three minutes left in the first period to give New Mexico a 14-0 lead.
Air Force narrowed the deficit in the early stages of the second quarter as Romine punched it in from a yard out for a touchdown. New Mexico answered as Teriyon Gipson scored on a five-yard run with just over nine minutes left before the intermission to make it 21-7.
The Falcons answered at the 3:14 mark of the second stanza as Romine completed a 19-yard touchdown strike to Garrett Brown. Will Conant booted his extra point attempt through the uprights to send Air Force into halftime trailing, 21-14.
Air Force evened the score just over a minute after the second half kickoff as Romine completed a 10-yard touchdown pass to Jalen Robinette.
The Lobos responded with a seven-play, 46-yard drive that was concluded by a three-yard touchdown run by Pressley. Justus Adams had his extra point attempt blocked, which left New Mexico with a 27-21 advantage. The Falcons have now blocked a kick in four straight contests.
Air Force took its first lead of the game at the 6:49 mark of the third frame as Romine completed a seven-yard pass to Griffin for a score. Will Conant converted his kick after the touchdown to give the visitors a 28-27 edge.
The Lobos went back ahead as Pressley broke away for a career-long 61-yard touchdown run with just under five minutes left before the final quarter. Gautsche completed a pass to Andrew Aho on the two-point conversion try to give New Mexico a 35-28 lead.
The Falcons scored on a one-yard run by Hart in the opening second of the final quarter, but still trailed, 35-34, after Conant had his extra point attempt blocked.
The hosts extended their lead to 42-34 with 10:32 left in regulation as Gautsche rushed 11 yards for a touchdown. New Mexico made it a two-possession game eight minutes later as Adams connected on a 24-yard field goal try.
Air Force cut the deficit to eight points with only 1:25 left to play as Conant drilled a 52-yard field goal attempt, but its ensuing on-side kick attempt was recovered by the Lobos, which prevented any chance for a late rally.
The Falcons, who came into the game ranked 112th in the nation in rush defense with 221.3 yards allowed per contest, surrendered 451 rushing yards to the Lobos. The teams combined for 924 yards of total offense.
Air Force still holds a 20-11 edge in the all-time series between these schools.