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New Mexico 31, Utah 27

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) -- In a game full of mistakes, New Mexico's
Michael Tuohy turned the Blunder Bowl into a thrilling victory over
Utah for the Lobos.

Tuohy forced a fumble that was recovered for a touchdown with
7:07 remaining, then made an interception with 70 seconds to play
to clinch a 31-27 victory over the Utes on Saturday.

"We came up with the last big play. In a game like that, it's
whoever makes the best play at the end of the game," New Mexico
coach Rocky Long said.

In the end, it was Tuohy, who stepped in front of Brett
Ratliff's pass and held on to the ball on a wild night when both
teams struggled with turnovers and botched kicks.

"I'm glad he caught it, but then I was praying for him to just
get on the ground before someone hit him and he fumbled," Long
said.

The way the game had gone, that wouldn't have been much of a
surprise. New Mexico missed two extra points, botched one punt and
had another blocked, and committed a personal foul that would have
ended Utah's last threat before Tuohy's interception.

Utah quarterback Brian Johnson was running on fourth-and-16 and
was stopped after a 12-yard gain, but the Lobos were called for a
helmet-to-helmet hit that set up Utah with first down at the New
Mexico 40.

Johnson was helped from the field with a knee injury, which
apparently ended his season, and Ratliff entered the game. Ratliff
completed his first pass for 21 yards to Travis LaTendresse and the
Utes got another break on an offsides penalty to set up first-and-5
from the 14, when Tuohy ended the threat with his second biggest
play of the night.

With Utah leading 27-25 and 7:07 remaining in the game, Tuohy
was sacking Johnson and knocked the ball loose. Kase scooped up the
ball after Tuohy knocked it loose and ran it in for the score.

"I swiped at it and made the tackle. He just happened to fumble
it and we recovered for a touchdown," Tuohy said. "We were due
for a game like this."

The Lobos (6-4, 4-3 Mountain West) shut out an opponent in the
second half for the first time this season and sacked Johnson eight
times in the last 30 minutes. 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 Johnson in the first two periods.

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 and without
Johnson, who Whittingham said is out with a ligament injury in his
left knee.

"I think we moved the ball well offensively at times, but it's
hard to win with four turnovers," Whittingham said.

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.

Utah also lost receiver John Madsen, who broke his left ankle in
the first half.