New Mexico 31, Utah 27

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AP Sports Writer

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) -- Michael Tuohy forced a fumble that was returned for a touchdown, then made an interception with 1 minute 10 seconds left to clinch New Mexico's 31-27 victory over Utah on Saturday.

The Lobos (6-4, 4-3 Mountain West) outlasted the Utes in a game full of mistakes, forcing two critical turnovers in the fourth quarter. New Mexico finished with nine sacks and shut out the Utes (5-5, 3-4) in the second half after allowing four touchdown passes by Brian Johnson in the first two periods.

But Johnson also threw an interception that was returned for a touchdown and fumbled deep in Utah territory for another score with 7:07 left to play that gave the Lobos the victory. Cody Kase scooped up the ball after Tuohy knocked it loose and ran it in for the score.

The Utes had a chance to regain the lead, but Tuohy intercepted a pass from Brett Ratliff on second-and-5 from the New Mexico 14. The Lobos gave the Utes an extra chance after a personal foul during a fourth-and-16 that knocked Johnson out of the game.

Ratliff completed a 21-yard pass to Travis LaTendresse and the Utes had plenty of time and not far to go, but threw on first down and again on second, when Tuohy clinched the victory when he stepped in front of Ratliff's pass.

New Mexico clinched its fifth straight season with at least six wins. Utah can still become eligible for a third-straight bowl, but will need to win at rival Brigham Young next week.

Hank Baskett had eight catches for 135 yards, including a 50-yard touchdown during New Mexico's rally, and Chris Nelson passed for 197 yards in his first start.

Johnson passed for four touchdowns for the second straight week, but also threw an interception, fumbled for the game-winning touchdown and had an errant option pitch that led to a touchdown for New Mexico.

LaTendresse, who had missed three straight games with an ankle injury, had nine catches for 192 yards, including a 51-yard touchdown pass from Johnson. Johnson also had scoring passes of 26 and 52 yards to Derrek Richards and a 41-yarder to Brent Casteel, but the Utes couldn't score in the second half after a bizarre first 30 minutes filled with blunders by both teams.

New Mexico's Kenny Byrd missed two point-after tries and Utah had an attempt blocked. Nelson threw an interception in the end zone and Johnson answered with an interception that was returned for a score by Quincy Black a few plays later.

The Utes fumbled a kickoff return at the 27 to set up a score by New Mexico on DonTrell Moore's 2-yard run with 10:56 left in the second, then the Lobos gave it right back to the Utes on a botched punt that gave the Utes the ball at the New Mexico 41.

It was a difficult night for everybody, including the officials. A pass over the middle by Nelson in the second quarter bounced off the umpire's head. And the third quarter nearly opened with 12 minutes on the clock until the referee asked over the loudspeaker to have the full 15:00 put up.

(Copyright 2005 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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