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New Mexico Lobos Win New Mexico Bowl, 23-20

UTSA’s offense couldn't capitalize when New Mexico gave them opportunities to win the game.

Boise State v New Mexico Photo by Adria Malcolm/Getty Images

New Mexico finished drives while UTSA couldn’t. On top of eight penalties by the Roadrunners, UTSA was unable to find rhythm in Albuquerque as the Lobos captured their hometown bowl for the second time in their history.

The triple-option offense consisting of Lamar Jordan, Teriyon Gipson and Richard McQuarley combined for 209 yards and three touchdowns. The attack proved to be effective even in a performance that was far from the team's best of the season.

UTSA had a chance to capitalize on the game opening drive after quarterback Dalton Sturm hit running running back Jarveon Williams on a fourth and five to put the Roadrunners 11 yards from a score. Tight end Shaq Williams then dropped a walk-in touchdown pass that hit him dead in the hands.

The play would be an indicator of how UTSA’s offense would trend for the rest the game: great drives down field that they just couldn't punctuate with an exclamation point.

Games like these typically go to the team that makes the least mistakes. New Mexico was the better team in that regard by a good measure. At one point the Roadrunners were at the one yard line with a first and goal then committed three penalties to send them back to the New Mexico 26.

The Roadrunners' offense would actually outpace that of the Lobos by 68 yards, creating more output both through the air and on the ground. In fact the only statistic that New Mexico flat-out beat UTSA in was time of possession, by just a minute and a half. Despite the statistical measures the Roadrunners' offense couldn't quite get the job done when it mattered the most.

The sole turnover of the game happened to be another defining moment for New Mexico. UTSA was driving in the third quarter to cut their deficit down to three. Sturm threw a soft throw directly into the hands of the Lobos’ safety, Lee Crosby. Sturm would finish just 10 of 26 for 118 yards.

The decision to keep Sturm in following the interception surprised a number of Roadrunner fans. UTSA head coach Frank Wilson has played backup quarterback Jared Johnson in the team’s last four regular season games. During a performance that justified making the change moreso than any of the others, Wilson stuck to his guns for the first time and Sturm was able to fuel two late rallies to cut the lead to three.

Another critical setback for the Roadrunners was a targeting penalty on the Lobos that would've given UTSA a first and goal from the five. A subsequent review ended in the call getting voided and forcing UTSA to settle in a field goal at a crucial time.

Despite the late comeback, the Roadrunners were unable to complete the miracle after an unsuccessful onside kick with the game clock under thirty seconds fell into the Lobo's hands to seal the victory.

Wilson surpassed expectations in leading UTSA to a bowl game in his rookie season but the loss put a blemish on what could have been a perfect first-year turnaround. The Roadrunners will miss the contributions of seniors such as Jarveon Williams and Michael Egwuagu but the program is well aligned to move forward in 2017.