ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — The Air Force ground attack was no match for New Mexico’s second-half might and punishing rushing game led by five Richard McQuarley touchdowns in a 56-38 Lobos’ win Saturday.
McQuarley finished with 179 yards on 11 carries and tied a school touchdown record.
Arion Worthman threw for three touchdowns and had 90 rushing yards and another score for the Falcons (1-3, 0-2 Mountain West), but the defense was unable to put a dent in the New Mexico attack.
“First of all, it starts with them, they are large,” said Air Force coach Troy Calhoun. “Whenever they get a tiny, just a tiny, sliver of space and they can go for a ways. You have to be dead on when it comes to being the in the right spot. We had probably four or five spots when we were not dead on.”
Worthman’s touchdowns went to Geraud Sanders, Ronald Cleveland and Ryan Refitt, while the quarterback’s 1-yard scoring run gave Air Force its last lead at 21-14 early in the third quarter.
From that point on, however, it was almost entirely New Mexico (3-2, 1-1), which piled on 280 second-half rushing yards.
“I think running between the tackles, it started to wear them down just a little bit even though we didn’t have the ball that much,” Lobos coach Bob Davie said. “We were just able to get some movement up in there. They played us in an odd front, not the four down and we’ve had a little more success against odd, with those bubbles over the guard.”
“We have to be very, very disciplined and we were not,” Calhoun said. “All three facets we got beat. Offensively, when you put the ball on the ground and have too many minus yardage plays, that makes it difficult and defensively if you aren’t gap sound, you have to be in the exact spot or you’re going to get exposed and we were exposed.”
The game was delayed for an hour at the end of the first quarter because of lightning, reducing the halftime to five minutes.
The national anthem was played at the end of the first half and at least four of the New Mexico players knelt.
THE TAKEAWAY: The second straight win for New Mexico helps the Lobos forget about its recent two-game skid that included a disappointing 30-28 home loss to rival New Mexico State. It also puts New Mexico within three wins of bowl eligibility for the third straight season.
The Falcons are all alone at the bottom of the conference’s Mountain Division and have lost three straight in the series and four of the last five.
KEY STAT: Air Force lost two fumbles, which were the first two the Falcons have lost this season. The Lobos turned each of the turnovers into touchdowns.
“I think those turnovers were really key,” Davie said. “And (Saturday) we were clean. We kind of beat Air Force at their own game.”
UP NEXT: Air Force is at Navy on Oct. 7 in the opener of the Commander and Chief’s trophy competition. The series also includes Army, but the Falcons have taken the trophy two of the last three seasons.
New Mexico has a week off before resuming Mountain West play against Fresno State on Oct. 14.
“This is coming at a great time,” Davie said of the break. “This has been a rollercoaster, this early part of the season.”