ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) -- All UNLV needed was a field goal. New
Mexico defensive back Gabriel Fulbright was just looking for a
chance to make a play.
Fulbright's interception of UNLV quarterback Shane Steichen's
pass with 1:20 left Monday preserved New Mexico's 24-22 Mountain
West Conference win.
Fulbright's pick and quarterback Kole McKamey's solid play led
New Mexico to the season-opening win.
"We talk about big plays and turnovers so much," Fulbright
said. "We needed a big play because all they needed was a field
New Mexico (1-0, 1-0 MWC) scored on its first three possessions
and jumped out to a 17-0 lead, then had to hold off a UNLV fourth
Steichen's 7-yard pass on fourth down to Donell Wheaton with
1:31 left got the Rebels within 24-22. UNLV (0-1, 0-1 MWC) went for
the two-point conversion, but halfback Erick Jackson was stopped
inside the 1 by Lobo linebacker Aleem Harris.
But the Rebels still weren't out of chances.
UNLV's Chanti Bloomer recovered the onside kick, giving the
Rebels possession at the New Mexico 48. But on the next play
Fulbright stepped in front of UNLV tight end Greg Estandia near the
"He read the pass well, that's zone coverage and that's right
where he was supposed to be standing," said New Mexico coach Rocky
In the end, the difference was the combination of McKamey and
wide receiver Hank Baskett, a missed extra point by UNLV kicker
Sergio Aguayo and a pair of delay of game penalties on the Rebels.
McKamey, who threw only five touchdown passes last season, set
career highs in completions by going 20-for-29 and for passing
yards with 284. He was much more efficient and comfortable in the
Lobos' version of the spread offense.
"It's a lot easier to see defenses and make reads when you're
in the shotgun and the field is spread," McKamey said.
Baskett caught 6 passes for 132 yards. He caught a 47-yard TD
pass in the first quarter and pulled in a 48-yard pass from McKamey
early in the fourth quarter that set up DonTrell Moore's 1-yard
It was just enough to hold off UNLV, which finally got its
spread offense rolling.
Jackson scored on runs of 16 and 3 yards and Aguayo connected on
a 31-yard field goal. But Aguayo's missed PAT after Jackson's first
touchdown would prove critical. The usually reliable Aguayo was
perfect on extra points last season, going 27-for-27.
The Rebels also had to settle for Aguayo's field goal in the
third quarter after having a first-and-goal at the New Mexico
5-yard line. Back-to-back delay of game penalties pushed UNLV back
to the 14 and Steichen, under pressure, threw incomplete on third
"We didn't do the little things and that ended up being the
thing that ended up biting us in the end," said first-year UNLV
coach Mike Sanford.
New Mexico scored in the first quarter on Kenny Byrd's 37-yard
field, McKamey's pass to Baskett and a 10-yard McKamey to Moore
McKamey completed his first five passes and was 12-for-19 for
177 yards in the first half.
Steichen completed 18 of 30 passes for 227 yards. The Rebels had
just one first down in the first quarter as they struggled with the
offense that Sanford, the former Utah offensive coordinator, has
"I was very disappointed that we didn't make first downs,"
said Sanford, who teamed up with former Utah coach Urban Meyer to
built one of the nation's top offenses last year at Utah. "I think
we can build on this and our guys understand what we can do with
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