3:00 PM ET, November 15, 2003
University Stadium (NM), Albuquerque, NM
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) -- The nation's third best rushing team was no match for the footwork of New Mexico sophomore DonTrell Moore.
Moore, the nation's leading scorer, ran for two touchdowns and 188 yards, setting the single-season school rushing record in New Mexico's 24-12 win over Air Force on Saturday.
"He's got a lot of ability and a lot of people will grow to realize that," Air Force coach Fisher DeBerry said. "He could go into the NFL today if he wanted to and I'd be happy for him. He is a special back."
And plenty humble.
"The credit goes to the offensive line," said Moore, whose scrapped knees testified to his day's work. It's a blessing to have them in front of me to run behind."
New Mexico (7-4, 4-2) moved a step closer to its third bowl bid in 42 years and into second place in the Mountain West Conference.
Air Force (7-4, 3-3) came into the game with the nation's third best rushing attack at just under 302 yards a game, but the Falcons' option offense found few holes in the Lobos' everyone-to-the-ball defense.
Air Force finished with season lows in yards rushing (158), points and total offense (273). At the half the Falcons had just 61 yards rushing and got most of the rest after the game had been decided.
"We could never get into a real rhythm with our offense," DeBerry said. "Our situation always seemed to be third-and-five or more."
Darnell Stephens scored Air Force's only touchdown on a 1-yard run with 1:14 left in the game. Joey Ashcroft kicked field goals of 25 and 26 yards in the second quarter.
Moore, spinning and squirting through the Falcons' defense, had his eighth game this season of over 100 yards and his seventh multi-TD game of the season. His 9-yard run with 10:58 left in the game broke the single season record of 1,240 yards by Mike Williams in 1976. Moore now has 1,285 yards.
"When the offensive line is blocking like they were, I have to come up with my end of the bargain and make a couple of guys miss," Moore said.
Moore, who had a career-high 36 carries, has scored 20 touchdowns this season, 19 of them rushing. He went into the game as the Division I scoring leader, one TD ahead of Pittsburgh wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald.
New Mexico scored on its first two possessions with drives of 59 and 76 yards, with Moore finishing off both drives from a yard out. Moore ate up most of the yardage on the first drive, getting the ball on the final seven plays.
Quarterback Casey Kelly provided key plays in the Lobos' second scoring drive, running for 28 yards on two carries and throwing a 28-yard pass to Michael Augustyniak to the Air Force 1. Two plays later, Moore walked into the end zone off an option play.
New Mexico opened the second half with a 75-yard drive that ate up six minutes and ended with a 23-yard field goal by Wes Zunker, his 14th straight connection this season.
The Lobos put the game away early in the fourth quarter with a 10-yard scoring pass from Kelly to Adrian Boyd. Moore got his rushing record in that drive and 53 of the 67 yards in the drive.
"There were times I thought we had great leverage on him, great gap integrity on him and had him defended," DeBerry said. "But he has the unique and uncanny ability to slither and slide and spin and get out of your grasp."
New Mexico had 274 rushing yards and its ground game was so effective that Kelly threw only 10 times, completing five for 90 yards.
Air Force quarterback Chance Harridge rushed for 70 yards and with the Falcons playing catchup was forced to throw more than he normally prefers, completing eight of 15 passes for 115 yards.
"They run an unconventional defense and they have good alley players with their linebackers and their safeties," Harridge said. "It's nothing new, but they just have good athletes."
New Mexico coach Rocky Long's only complaint was that his defense gave up the late touchdown.
"That's the best we can play. That's a great offensive team," Long said of the Falcons.