BYU Pulls Out Win Against New Mexico; 31-24

BYU Pulls Out Win Against New Mexico; 31-24

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ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) -- Max Hall threw for 251 yards and two touchdowns and linebacker Bryan Kehl returned an interception 36 yards for a TD as BYU beat New Mexico 31-24 on Saturday night.

The Cougars (3-2, 2-0 Mountain West) survived a spirited effort by New Mexico's defense, but the Lobos (3-2, 0-1) will look back on their two fourth-quarter fumbles and Kehl's TD less than two minutes after kickoff.

BYU led 28-21 early in the fourth after Hall beat New Mexico's blitz and found Dennis Pitta for a 14-yard TD pass. It was set up when Ian Dulan recovered a fumble by Lobos fullback Matt Quillen at New Mexico's 32.

The Lobos answered on John Sullivan's 43-yard field goal -- kicking into a 20-mph wind -- to pull within 28-24 with 7:34 remaining.

New Mexico had the momentum after its defense held BYU to three plays, sending the cherry-colored crowd into a frenzy.

But things quickly soured when Frankie Solomon fumbled on the ensuing punt return and BYU's Chris Bolden recovered at the Lobos' 22.

Moments later, Hall threw an 11-yard TD pass to diving Andrew George. After a lengthy delay while the play was reviewed, referee Terry Leyden announced the ball had touched the ground and the call was reversed.

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The Cougars instead settled for a 22-yard field goal by Mitch Payne, taking a 31-24 lead with 4:12 to play.

It was just barely enough. The Lobos were unable to gain a first down on their final possession and punted, and Hall scrambled 17 yards on third-and-10 as the Cougars ran the clock down to put the victory away.

Hall completed 18 of 40 attempts with one interception.

BYU has won on 13 of its last 14 visits to Albuquerque, ever since New Mexico beat the Jim McMahon-led Cougars 25-21 in 1980 -- one of the most storied wins in Lobo football history.

It seemed the Lobos might finally break through again, but turnovers made the difference. BYU scored 24 points off New Mexico miscues.

Through the first four games, the Lobos had given up only three turnovers. But on this night, Donovan Porterie was 20-of-38 for 231 yards passing with one TD and two interceptions, and New Mexico lost all three of its fumbles.

Rodney Ferguson had a big night in the losing effort, gaining 87 yards rushing on 22 carries and catching four passes for 105 yards, including a 71-yard TD play that helped the Lobos tie it at 21 going into the fourth quarter.

BYU led 7-0 less than two minutes after kickoff. Porterie threw for Travis Brown, but the ball bounced off his hands and into the arms of Kehl, who raced into the end zone for an easy score.

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