2007 a disappointing season for Wolf Pack
Appeal Sports Writer
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. – A disappointment.
That’s how Nevada football coach Chris Ault classified the 2007 season after Nevada dropped a 23-0 decision to New Mexico in the second annual New Mexico Bowl Saturday to finish the season with a 6-7 record.
It’s Ault’s second losing season since his third return to the sidelines. He was 5-7 his first year back, and then followed that up with 9-4 and 8-5 records, respectively.
“(Being) 6-6 was tough enough to handle with the opportunity we had to win a number of games and we didn’t,” Ault said in his post-game press conference. “I’m disappointed that we didn’t play better.”
New Mexico, Nebraska and Fresno State were truly the only games that Nevada didn’t deserve to win. Nevada let fourth-quarter leads slip away against Northwestern, Boise State, Hawaii and San Jose State.
Most certainly those failures will gnaw at anybody associated with the Nevada football program during this off-season.
LOBOS END SKID
The bowl win by New Mexico ended coach Rocky Long’s four-game bowl losing streak, and the coach chided his own media in his post-game press conference for being so negative.
“It was important for us to win the game (as a program),” Long said. “We had a 47-year drought. Everybody wants to make it a lot bigger than it really is.”
Certainly winning a national TV game ends the season on a positive note, and it will help the Lobos’ recruiting.
“I think this motivates everyone,” linebacker Michael Tuohy said. “All the seniors get to go out good, and we have a strong group of guys coming back next year. They are going to hold it down and have another great season I believe.”
Long was asked by an Albuquerque TV reporter if he was coming back next year, and Long said, “I think so.”
Long guided the Lobos to a 9-4 record this season, becoming the fourth New Mexico team in 109 seasons to win nine games.
LIPPINCOTT MOVES UP
Junior running back Luke Lippincott moved into fifth-place in single-season rushing attempts with his 10-carry 40-yard effort against New Mexico.
The 40-yard effort was his second-lowest of the season. He had minus-5 against Nebraska in the season-opening 52-10 loss.
Lippincott finished with 267 attempts, which vaulted him past ex-Pack stars Frank Hawkins’ 259 in 1978 and B.J. Mitchell’s 261 attempts in 2005.
A FIRST FOR JACKSON
Senior Justin Jackson picked off a Donovan Porterie pass in the second quarter for his first career interception.
“I was disappointed about the outcome of the game,” Jackson said. “It’s been a joke all season (no interceptions), and I get my first pick in my last game.”
Jackson also made a big play late in the third quarter when he stopped Marcus Smith for no gain at the Nevada 1.
“I got my skinny body under the lineman,” Jackson said. “I got enough to grab him and turn him.”
New Mexico quarterback Donovan Porterie, who was named the Offensive Most Valuable Player, completed 20 of 36 passes for 354 yards and two scores.
It was his fourth career 300-yard passing game, and he finished the season with 3,006 yards passing, which puts him fourth on New Mexico’s single-season passing list.
“He played well,” Nevada nose tackle Matt Hines said. “The offensive line was protecting, and we weren’t getting back there. He played well.”
“I thought Donovan played well,” Long said. “He threw the ball well. We had a couple, three drops.”
FACTS & FIGURES
Junior Uche Anyanwu forced a fumble and recovered a fumble during the game, the first of each for him this season… Freshman cornerback Kenny Viser recorded the first blocked kick of his career when he blocked a field goal attempt in the first half… Nevada was shut out in the first half for the first time since Nov. 25, 2006 (vs. Boise State)… New Mexico won the coin toss and elected to receive. Nevada defended the north goal to start the game… The Lobos recorded two shutouts in the same season for the first time since 1983 when it beat New Mexico State 31-0 and UTEP 35-0 … The Lobos were 9-0 when scoring first in 2007. New Mexico has won 13 straight when scoring first … Long is 61-61, the first time he’s been at .500 since he was 2-2 back in 1998 … Linebacker Brett Madsen was named the top defensive player. He finished with four tackles, 2 1/2 behind the line, and two sacks. Not bad for a guy who didn’t start.