PROVO New Mexico head coach Rocky Long held nothing back after his team dropped a 21-3 game to BYU on Saturday as he torched the referees for a specific call he felt changed the entire complexion of the game.
New Mexico had the ball on the Cougars' 11-yard line when quarterback Tate Smith threw a screen to Bryant Williams, who weaved through the Cougar defense for a touchdown. The score would have brought the game to within four, but instead it was negated and brought back for an illegal block in the back.
"I don't know if we would have won or not, but the officials obviously blew a call that changed the entire momentum of the game," Long said. "It is criminal that they changed the momentum like that. It is ridiculous that one call can change all the momentum of the game and take it from one team."
Long clearly took issue with the penalty, as did tackle Byron Bell who was flagged on the play. Bell and Long both protested with the officials after the play, but to no avail. The penalty put the Lobos in a long third-down situation and after two incomplete passes they left with nothing to show for the long drive.
"We might have still lost the game but it should have been a hell of a game right to the end, and the officials took that away from us," Long said.
While he did praise the Cougars for playing well enough to win the game, as well as saying that they deserve their top-10 ranking, he said he didn't want to talk about them and that enough people are talking about them already.
"It's amazing when one team has pull and the other one doesn't," Long said as he walked out of the media room.
BYU led 7-3 at the half, but the Lobos felt confident after keeping the Cougars out of the end zone and forcing them to attempt a field goal just before the half. Justin Sorenson's 50-yard attempt was wide left and Long's message to his team at the break was to just stay the course.61 comments on this story
But BYU made a few defensive adjustments in the second half that Long said made it tougher to get the running game going. New Mexico running back Rodney Ferguson had already racked up 71 yards on the ground by halftime but the stingy Cougar defense only allowed him 22 more in the second half.
After the game Ferguson was upset with how the game ended up, but said he could take nothing away from BYU."Their defense was good," he said. "They were good enough to win the game and that is all I can say. I can't put them down, they played good enough to win."