Utah quarterback Brian Johnson, left, leaps over a New Mexico defender while trying to avoid a tackle by New Mexico's Jeremiah Lovato (94) during the first half. (AP Photo/Steve C. Wilson)
Nov. 17, 2007
SALT LAKE CITY (AP) -Darrell Mack became the ninth Utah player to rush for 1,000 yards in a season and the Utes won their seventh straight, beating New Mexico 28-10 Saturday.
Koa Misi returned a fumble 41 yards for a touchdown as the Utes (8-3, 5-2 Mountain West) capitalized on four turnovers by New Mexico, which had won the last two in the series and four of the last five against Utah.
Utah kept its slim hopes alive for a share of the conference title and ended any chance for the Lobos (7-4, 4-3).
After pulling within 14-10, New Mexico self-destructed in the second half with three critical turnovers, two of which led to Utah touchdowns. The Lobos fumbled twice on punt returns and turned it over again when Paul Kruger ran down quarterback Donovan Porterie from behind and knocked the ball loose.
Misi scooped it up and ran for a touchdown with 6:57 left, all but sealing it for the Utes.
Receiver Jereme Brooks threw a 7-yard touchdown pass for the Utes and Brian Johnson completed 16 of 27 passes for 165 yards and a touchdown. Mack, who needed 5 yards to reach 1,000 for the season, had 24 carries for 77 yards, including a 1-yard touchdown run that put the Utes up 7-0 early in the second quarter.
Porterie was 18-for-41 for 198 yards and Rodney Ferguson ran 19 times for 51 yards for the Lobos, who went 50 yards on the first play from scrimmage only to fumble it. The New Mexico defense kept that one from turning into any points, but there was little the Lobos could do late in the third after the first bungled punt return.
Louie Sakoda kicked a low punt that Ian Clark tried to catch on the run, but the ball bounced hard off his chest and Utah recovered at the 39-yard line. The Utes got another 15 yards on a personal foul and started a short drive at the New Mexico 24. Johnson threw a 7-yard touchdown pass to Derrek Richards led on New Mexico for some pushing and shoving as the officials tried to figure out whose ball it was.
The Utes scored on Johnson's 7-yard pass to Richards and the Utes led 21-10 with 49 seconds left in the third. The Lobos did it again early in the fourth when DeAndre Wright didn't make the catch near his own 10-yard line and the Utes recovered at the 5.
But the Lobos got it right back when Johnson fumbled on first down. Clark, who had dropped the first punt, caused the fumble as Johnson tried a run up the middle.
Johnson also threw an interception on the first series of the third quarter. Wright caught Johnson's pass and returned it 42 yards to the Utah 11. The Lobos went 9 yards on the next three plays and went for it on fourth down, when Ferguson scored to cut the lead in half with 12:38 left in the third.
John Sullivan kicked a 22-yard field goal, his 24th of the season, to make it 14-10 with 4:09 left in the third quarter and then the Lobos unraveled with the turnovers.