Western New Mexico University overcame a 17-0 halftime deficit and scored 20 unanswered points in the second half to snap Fort Lewis College’s two-game winning streak with a 20-17 nonconfernce win Saturday afternoon in Silver City, New Mexico.
The Skyhawks took a 7-0 lead midway through the first quarter after a 1-yard touchdown run from Tyler Telphy that capped a six-play, 61-yard drive.
With 3 minutes, 16 seconds remaining in the second quarter, FLC’s Ben Raybon connected on a 36-yard field goal to push the Skyhawks’ lead to 10-0.
FLC (3-5) extended the lead to 17-0 with a 9-yard run by Jake Lowry with 7 seconds left before halftime.
Lowry entered the game for starting quarterback Bo Coleman, who suffered an knee injury while getting tackled.
Along with Coleman, right tackle Christian Ramos left the game with an injury.
The second half was the complete opposite of the first. FLC struggled to move the ball while the Mustangs (2-6) found their rhythm.
FLC head coach Joe Morris said the losses of Coleman and Ramos played a big factor in the Skyhawks’ struggles in the second half.
“We lost our starting quarterback, we lost our right tackle,” Morris said, “and (WNMU) did a great job coming out hot in the third quarter.”
The Mustangs ate up 6:40 of clock on the opening possession of the third quarter, but were forced to settle for a 40-yard field goal from Collin Grady to cut the deficit to 17-3.
Later in the quarter Western scored on a 14-yard pass from Javia Hall to Matt Grieb to make it a one-score game with 4:35 remaining in the third.
On their next possession, the Mustangs drove 77 yards in 10 plays and found the end zone on a 2-yard run from DeAndre Williams to tie the game at 17-17.
The score remained knotted until late in the fourth quarter when Grady drilled a 27-yard field goal with 52 seconds remaining in the game.
FLC had a chance to get into field goal range, but ran out of time after reaching midfield.
Morris said he was happy with the defensive performance in the first half but that the Skyhawks gave up too many big plays in the second half.
“Any time you give up big plays bad things are going to happen,” he said. “That’s basically what happened in the second half.”
The Mustangs aired it out in the win, with Hall completing 27-of-46 passes for 247 yards and a TD.
FLC ran the ball for 154 yards and were led by Telphy with 49 yards on 18 carries.
The Skyhawks were 8-of-18 passing for 102 yards and an interception. They were sacked five times.
Morris said he saw some positives from Lowry when he was in the game, but that the coaching staff is still working out where Lowry’s strengths are.
FLC (3-4 Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference) will host South Dakota Mines (4-4, 3-4 RMAC) next Saturday at Ray Dennison Memorial Field.