TUCSON - Donovan Porterie threw for 327 yards and three touchdowns Saturday night, and New Mexico beat a Pac-10 team for the second time in school history, 29-27 over mistake-prone Arizona.
Arizona’s Willie Tuitama passed for 446 yards, second-most ever for the Wildcats, and three touchdowns, but the Wildcats (1-2) couldn’t overcome critical fumbles and penalties.
The Lobos (2-1) took advantage of the miscues and tore apart Arizona’s secondary all night. Marcus Smith caught 11 passes for 164 yards and a touchdown. Travis Brown added 10 catches for 121 yards and two scores for New Mexico. Porterie, a sophomore, was 29-for-41 with one interception.
The Wildcats twice fumbled the ball away on what would have been go-ahead touchdowns in the second half, the first at the New Mexico 2-yard line on the first possession of the second half. The Lobos’ O.J. Smith scooped up both fumbles.
Arizona also was plagued by penalties, including one against coach Mike Stoops and his staff for unsportsmanlike conduct during a timeout. New Mexico got what turned out to be two critical points when Tuitama was called for intentional grounding in the Arizona end zone for a safety late in the third quarter.
New Mexico is 2-9 against the Pac-10. The Lobos had lost nine in a row, the last six under coach Rocky Long, since beating Oregon State in 1979. The Lobos last defeated Arizona in 1976, when both schools were in the Western Athletic Conference.
Tuitama completed 30 of 53 and had fourth-quarter TD passes of 12 and 13 yards to Mike Thomas to cut the lead to 29-27. But Frankie Solomon intercepted Tuitama on Arizona’s final possession with just under two minutes to play. Any hope the Wildcats had ended when New Mexico’s Rodney Ferguson ran for a first down on third-and-9 with 1:13 to play.
New Mexico led 14-13 at the half, thanks to Porterie’s 38-yard touchdown pass to Brown with three seconds left. It was a play that typified the night.
The Lobos went 80 yards in 1 minute, 5 seconds, with the help of a 15-yard unsportsmanlike conduct penalty against the Wildcats’ bench during a timeout. That moved the ball to the Arizona 27. A false start penalty and a sack moved New Mexico back to the 38. On 2nd and 21, Brown ran straight downfield, past the Wildcats’ secondary, and caught the pass in the end zone.
Arizona took the second-half kickoff and drove to the New Mexico 5-yard line. But Tuitama fumbled trying to run for the score. Swift scooped up the ball at the 2 and rambled 39 yards to the 41. A roughing-the-passer penalty on Lionel Dotson led to John Sullivan’s 31-yard field goal and New Mexico led 17-13 with 7:15 left in the third.
After Arizona cut it to 26-20, Sullivan’s 44-yarder gave the Lobos a 29-20 lead with 6:41 remaining.