ALBUQUERQUE — Sheriron Jones, New Mexico's junior transfer quarterback who began the season on the third team, posted a message on Twitter shortly after the Lobos' emotional and pivotal 42-25 victory over rival New Mexico State on Saturday night.
"Great early Birthday gift. Thanks to my teammates.. love y'all boys," Jones posted after the Lobos (2-1) won at Aggie Memorial Stadium to end a two-game losing streak to the Aggies (0-4).
Jones turned 22 on Sunday. His teammates, mainly the Lobo defense, did indeed give Jones a gift in the form of five interceptions.
New Mexico scored 21 points off the interceptions, including a pick-six to close out the game.
The Lobos' five interceptions tied a program record for the most in game, which has happened eight times, the most recent in a 30-7 win over San Diego State on Oct. 18, 2003. New Mexico's 148 interception return yards against the Aggies set a new team record.
UNM hopes to have redshirt sophomore Tevaka Tuioti, the original starting quarterback, back after the bye this week. He suffered a concussion in the loss to Wisconsin.
"We have an open date," UNM coach Bob Davie said. "(We'll) try to get some guys healthy and try to build on this. I'm proud of our fans. We had a lot of fans down here (in Las Cruces). I loved the atmosphere."
WHAT WENT RIGHT: In addition to the Lobos' stellar defense, UNM got solid games from its running backs, Tyrone Owens and Ahmari Davis. Owens ran for 110 yards and one touchdown on 30 carries and Davis went for 74 yards and four TDs on 21 carries.
The Lobos needed that type of running game to offset its inability to open up the offense with more passes. Jones threw an interception on UNM's first drive that was taken back for a touchdown.
Also, the Lobos did not run the triple option, mainly because they were on their third quarterback and did not want Jones to get hit, Davie said.
The coach said he was proud of his team's effort and its ability to overcome a 14-0 deficit.
WHAT WENT WRONG: Actually, a lot of things went wrong for the Lobos.
They were sloppy, committing 15 penalties for 133 yards.
There were also significant injuries.
Senior linebacker Alex Hart, a two-time team captain, suffered a right knee injury in the second quarter. The Lobos fear the injury is season-ending. Davie was not available to the media on Sunday, but an update of his players should come today.
Hart could use this season as a redshirt year due to the injury.
The Lobos were without sophomore linebacker Sitiveni Tamaivena (turf toe).
NOTABLES: It was easy to see that redshirt freshman safety Marcus Hayes delivered a big game with two interceptions, including a pick-six, and a key 27-yard punt return.
Sophomore linebacker Rhashaun Epting also stepped up with a sparkling performance for UNM. He led the Lobos with 2 1/2 sacks. He also recorded seven total tackles (two solo).
Also of note, the Lobos outscored the Aggies, 35-3, after going down, 14-0, and held off NMSU with Hayes' interceptions.
NEXT OPPONENT: Liberty, at UNM Sept. 29. Liberty was idle on Saturday. The Flames are 1-1 on the season, having beaten Old Dominion 52-10 and lost to Army 38-14. They play North Texas, which is coming off an historic upset of Arkansas, at home in Lynchburg, Va., next Saturday.
HE SAID IT: "Now's not the time to talk about mistakes. Certainly there were a lot of mistakes. A lot of mistakes but we'll get those corrected." — Bob Davie