ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) – Enough talk about New Mexico’s bowl struggles.

Paul Baker ran for 167 yards in his first start, and Donovan Porterie threw for career-high 354 yards and two touchdowns to help New Mexico beat Nevada 23-0 in the New Mexico Bowl on Saturday.

The Lobos (9-4) ended a 46-year skid without a postseason victory and gave 10th-year coach Rocky Long his first bowl win in five tries.

New Mexico’s defense also delivered just the second shutout loss for Nevada’s Hall of Fame coach, Chris Ault.

The Wolf Pack (6-7) hadn’t gone scoreless since losing 10-0 to Weber State on Sept. 27, 1980, a span of 329 games – the longest current streak in college football and the second longest in history.

It was New Mexico’s first bowl victory since beating Western Michigan 28-12 in the 1961 Aviation Bowl at Dayton, Ohio. The Lobos also notched a nine-win season for just the fourth time in school history.

Much of the credit goes to New Mexico’s defenders, who pestered redshirt freshman quarterback Colin Kaepernick all afternoon and made Nevada’s “Pistol” offense look more like a pop-gun.

The Wolf Pack averaged 36.2 points and 488.9 yards during the season. Nevada logged 23 scoring plays that covered at least 25 yards – second only to Oklahoma’s 25 big-play TDs.

Nevada had 210 total yards, with only 73 yards rushing. On a chilly day, with the temperature at kickoff 34 degrees, Kaepernick finished 13-of-31 for 137 yards. He had 10 carries for 40 yards rushing.

Long was surely chilled and soaked to the bone after his players doused him with icy water at the 2-minute mark, sending up a spirited cheer from the fans who remained from the crowd of 30,223.

After the final gun, a handful of New Mexico players jumped into the stands in the north end zone and students swarmed the field to remove the goal post.

John Sullivan made field goals from 53, 39 and 37 yards, but Baker put up most of the offense. He moved into the starting lineup this week when Rodney Ferguson, New Mexico’s leading rusher over the past two seasons, was ruled academically ineligible.

Baker made it look easy, gaining his yards on 22 rushing attempts.

Though he didn’t score, Baker broke a 37-yard run, took a flat pass from Porterie for 52 yards and added another 24-yard run on New Mexico’s first two second-half possessions.

Meanwhile, it was ugly on nearly every front for Nevada.

The Wolf Pack blocked two field goals, Sullivan missed another 43-yard try and the Lobos failed to score after having first-and-goal at the 4 late in the third quarter. But Nevada just couldn’t take advantage.

Despite the cool weather, Porterie had no trouble warming up.

He threw a short slant pass in the first quarter to Smith, who raced to the end zone for a 66-yard scoring play. Later in the period, Brown got behind the Nevada defense and Porterie found him on a 39-yard TD pass.

AP-ES-12-22-07 2002EST


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