Teriyon Gipson rushed for 140 yards with a touchdown and caught a pass for another score, leading New Mexico to a 45-40 victory over Air Force on Saturday.
Playing at the historic Cotton Bowl not far from his Dallas high school, Gipson ran 60 yards down the sideline on an option pitch to give the Lobos (3-3, 2-1 Mountain West) a 14-3 lead in the first quarter. New Mexico never trailed.
Nate Romine threw for 280 yards and two touchdowns for the Falcons (4-2, 1-2), who lost their second straight since a victory over service academy rival Navy.
The neutral site game at the Texas state fair featured teams with a combined 51 players from the Lone Star State, including 17 starters.
New Mexico’s nation-leading rushing offense had 373 yards against an Air Force defense that was No. 2 nationally against the run and had allowed 401 yards all season coming in.
The teams combined for 974 yards — 443 for New Mexico and 531 for Air Force — and eight scoring drives of 70-plus yards.
But both defenses stiffened in the fourth quarter, when the Lobos had just 10 yards rushing and punted four times. Romine was sacked three times after halftime, and Air Force stalled twice in the final 3½ minutes when trailing by five.
Lamar Jordan had a career-high two touchdown passes for the ground-oriented Lobos. After a 12-yarder to Gipson midway through the second quarter, he floated one to a wide-open Q’ Drennan for a 45-yard score . It was one of the nine plays of 30-plus yards in the game.
Jalen Robinette had his third straight 100-yard receiving game for the Falcons, finishing with 169 yards and a 53-yard score .
Tyrone Owens had a career-high 126 yards rushing and a touchdown for the Lobos, who got two rushing TDs from Richard McQuarley.
New Mexico: The Lobos bounced back strong from a blowout loss to No. 15 Boise State and might have taken a big step toward a second straight bowl season under fifth-year coach Bob Davie.
Air Force: The Falcons might have been thinking about making a run for the Top 25 after improving to 4-0 with a win over Navy, which handed No. 13 Houston its first loss a week later. But consecutive Mountain West losses have changed their outlook.
New Mexico: Home against Louisiana-Monroe next Saturday.
Air Force: Home against Hawaii next Saturday.