New Mexico tailback Kasey Carrier ran all over the record book. He just wished that he could rewrite the outcome.
Wes Cobb had three 1-yard touchdown runs, and Air Force overcame Carrier's Mountain West Conference-record 338 yards rushing with a 28-23 win over New Mexico on Saturday night.
"It's definitely frustrating," Carrier said. "We don't work hard to come out and lose games. But it shows that we are going to come out and fight to the end and we can come out and play with the best teams."
Carrier, who ran the ball 39 times, broke loose for runs of 68 and 59 yards in the game's opening minutes, getting chased down just short of the goal line. He scored on a pair of 1-yard runs as well as a 37-yarder that pulled the Lobos to within five points with 12 minutes remaining.
"It was an amazing effort by Kasey to keep us in the game," said Lobos defensive back Tim Foley, who forced an Air Force turnover late in the game that New Mexico couldn't convert. "We just need to fight harder, on both sides of the ball."
The Falcons (4-3, 2-1) won despite losing Cody Getz, the nation's second-leading rusher, on their first snap when he appeared to aggravate a sprained left ankle. New Mexico (4-4, 1-2) played the second half without quarterback B.R. Holbrook, who suffered a concussion after taking a hit during the Lobos' final series of the second quarter.
Sophomore Quinton McCown saw time at quarterback, and wide receiver Lamaar Thomas and Carrier stepped in as well, taking direct snaps in a variation of the option as the Lobos leaned on their rushing attack.
The workload fell mostly to Carrier, who broke New Mexico's single-game rushing mark of 265 yards set by Quincy Wright against Weber State 10 years ago. He also surpassed the conference mark of 285 yards set by Gartrell Johnson of Colorado State against Fresno State in the 2008 New Mexico Bowl.
Carrier said he never imagined that kind of performance.
"I am shocked," he said. "I didn't know how many yards I had, but it starts up front with the offensive line. Those guys worked hard this game, and the wideouts, blocking down the field."
Said New Mexico coach Bob Davie: "Whoever thought Kasey Carrier wasn't tough needs to reconsider."
Trailing by five, the Lobos reached the Air Force 12 after a strip by Foley of receiver Ty MacArthur, but linebacker Alex Means, who earlier returned an interception for a touchdown, stuffed Thomas for a 4-yard loss on fourth-and-4.
Means gave his team a lift with his interception return but he said the stop was an even greater source of satisfaction.
"I think that was a more critical point of the game," he said. "The interception, I actually didn't run the right play. We had a little miscommunication on what the play was. I kind of ran it late and I was in no man's land and ... we got lucky, but we'll take it."
The Falcons chewed up the final 3:57 to secure their fifth straight win over New Mexico, which was trying to win back-to-back road games in conference play for the first time since 2007.
By halftime, Carrier, a senior from Pearland, Texas, had amassed 227 yards on 22 carries, surpassing his career high of 191 yards set just two weeks ago against Texas State.
The Lobos, however, trailed 14-10 at the break thanks to Means' first career touchdown.
Means reached high with his right hand to tip B.R. Holbrook's pass to running back Chase Clayton in the right flat, gathered in the fluttering ball and sprinted 65 yards for the touchdown that erased New Mexico's 10-7 lead.
Carrier stepped through the line and raced 68 yards on his first carry before Steffon Batts chased him down and knocked him out of bounds at the 7. The Lobos had to settle for Justus Adams' short field goal.
Carrier also was chased down just shy of the goal line minutes later when he burst up the middle for a 59-yard run, tripped up by Christian Spears at the 1. Carrier took it in from there for a 10-0 lead.
Just when it looked like Carrier and the Lobos were going to steamroll the short-handed Falcons, MacArthur stepped up to make sure that didn't happen.
He returned the ensuing kickoff 21 yards, caught an 11-yard pass, ran for 16 more and hauled in a 25-yard throw at the 1, then watched Cobb score from there to make the score 10-7.
Carrier carried seven times for 37 yards on another New Mexico drive, but that's when Means changed the game with his interception.
Carrier capped New Mexico's first drive of the second half with a 1-yard TD that put the Lobos back on top 17-14.
The Falcons responded with Cobb's second 1-yard TD run for a 21-17 lead, and his third short TD made it 28-17.
The Lobos missed the two-point conversion after Carrier's 37-yard scoring run with 12 minutes remaining.