Dec. 23, 2006
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) - Adam Tafralis threw three touchdown passes and San Jose State beat New Mexico 20-12 on Saturday in the inaugural New Mexico Bowl, extending the Lobos' postseason drought to 45 years.
One big pass play by Tafralis and one costly fumble by New Mexico -- both in the first half -- set the tone for the Spartans' first bowl win outside of California.
New Mexico (6-7) hasn't won a bowl game since it beat Western Michigan in the 1961 Aviation Bowl and is 0-5 since 1997.
For the Spartans (9-4), the win provided a final highlight in a season in which they won more games than they had in the three previous seasons.
Tafralis, who was 11-of-18 for 209 yards, threw scoring passes of 36 and 24 yards to James Jones and 76 yards to John Broussard. The pass to Broussard on the first play of the second quarter -- in which New Mexico's defense totally blew the coverage -- got the Spartans' offense rolling.
New Mexico's only touchdown came with 15 seconds left in the game on a 15-yard pass from Chris Nelson to Marcus Smith. The rest of the Lobos' scoring consisted of a 40-yard field goal by Kenny Byrd with 1:11 left in the second quarter and a safety when San Jose State punter Waylon Prather stepped out of the end zone with 1:08 left.
Byrd's field goal was his 25th straight from 40 yards or closer and the first made field goal by New Mexico in 10 bowl appearances.
San Jose State, playing in its first bowl in 16 years, struck first after the teams combined for seven punts in the first quarter.
Tafralis found Broussard 20 yards behind the nearest Lobo. Broussard caught the pass at the 35 and easily scored.
New Mexico came right back with a drive that started with DeAndre Wright's kickoff return to the San Jose State 40. Eight plays later the Lobos had a first-and-goal at the 1. The Spartans' defense toughened and on third-and-goal from the 2, Lobos halfback Rodney Ferguson was hit by linebacker Matt Castelo. Ferguson fumbled the ball into the end zone and into the hands of linebacker Damaja Jones, who returned it 57 yards to the New Mexico 37.
The Spartans made it 13-0 on Tafralis's 36-yard pass to Jones with 3:59 left in the first half. Jones caught the ball near the sideline at the New Mexico 16 and slipped out of the grasp of Wright. Matt Strubeck missed the extra point.
The Lobos' offense had 377 total yards but was stagnant most of the day. Neither freshman quarterback Donovan Porterie, who started, nor Nelson, who played in the second half, could sustain drives. What plays did work often were erased by holding penalties and three second half fumbles, including one by wide receiver Travis Brown at the San Jose State 1 with just over 3 minutes left.
Ferguson, who led the Mountain West Conference in rushing this season, had 102 yards on 22 carries, but his second-quarter fumble put the Lobos on their heels for the rest of the game.
James Jones and Broussard each had 106 yards receiving, Jones with six catches and Broussard with four.