ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. – Enough talk about New Mexico’s bowl struggles.
Paul Baker ran for 167 yards in his first start, and Donovan Porterie threw for career-high 354 yards and two touchdowns to help New Mexico beat Nevada 23-0 in the New Mexico Bowl on Saturday.
The Lobos (9-4) ended a 46-year skid without a postseason victory and gave 10th-year coach Rocky Long his first bowl win in five tries.
New Mexico’s defense also delivered just the second shutout loss for Nevada’s Hall of Fame coach, Chris Ault.
The Wolf Pack (6-7) hadn’t gone scoreless since losing 10-0 to Weber State on Sept. 27, 1980, a span of 329 games – the longest current streak in college football and the second longest in history.
It was New Mexico’s first bowl victory since beating Western Michigan 28-12 in the 1961 Aviation Bowl at Dayton, Ohio. The Lobos also notched a nine-win season for just the fourth time in school history.
Much of the credit goes to New Mexico’s defenders, who pestered redshirt freshman quarterback Colin Kaepernick all afternoon and made Nevada’s “Pistol” offense look more like a pop-gun.
The Wolf Pack averaged 36.2 points and 488.9 yards during the season. Nevada logged 23 scoring plays that covered at least 25 yards – second only to Oklahoma’s 25 big-play TDs.
Nevada had 210 total yards, with only 73 yards rushing. On a chilly day, with the temperature at kickoff 34 degrees, Kaepernick finished 13 of 31 for 137 yards. He had 10 carries for 40 yards.
Long was surely chilled after his players doused him with icy water at the 2-minute mark, sending up a spirited cheer from the fans who remained from the crowd of 30,223.
After the final gun, a handful of New Mexico players jumped into the stands in the north end zone and students swarmed the field to remove the goal post.