ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. -- Three takeaways helped the Boise State football team take a 25-point lead Saturday at University Stadium.
Two turnovers nearly gave it all away.
The No. 24 Broncos escaped with a 32-29 victory over New Mexico to improve to 3-1.
The Broncos led 25-0 at halftime - a lead that began to dwindle when they fumbled the opening kickoff of the second half.
"It can change that fast," Boise State coach Chris Petersen said. "I hope this team learns that. It doesn't matter how much you're up or how much you're behind, you've got to finish. You've got to play."
The Lobos' triple-option offense gashed the Broncos' usually stout defense for 330 rushing yards. They scored on drives of 26, 96, 75 and 1 yards -- including touchdowns that followed the fumble on the kickoff return, a fumble by wide receiver Shane Williams-Rhodes and a failed fourth-and-1 play at the New Mexico 4-yard line.
The Lobos dropped to 2-3 in coach Bob Davie's first year. They won one game each of the past three seasons.
"In the second half, we came out fighting and showed them we were not giving up," said linebacker Joe Stoner, whose fumble return put the Lobos on the Boise State 1. "This is a whole different era. We just want them to know that if you are going to come into our home turf, you are going to have to play us for the whole four quarters."
The Lobos got the ball on their own 27-yard line with 3:24 left in the game down by three points. Boise State linebacker Tommy Smith stuffed a third-and-3 run by quarterback Cole Gautsche to set up fourth-and-4.
Starting quarterback B.R. Holbrook, who didn't play much in the second half, entered and threw the Lobos' only pass of the second half. Smith dropped into the passing lane and knocked down the ball.
It was the second straight nail-biting win for the Broncos, who squandered many chances to put away BYU a week earlier.
"We'll never question their heart," Petersen said. "We told them that in the locker room. I think those guys compete and go hard, but we've got to play better."
New Mexico started the second-half scoring after forcing a fumble by Dallas Burroughs on the opening kickoff. Burroughs was ruled down on the field, but the replay booth gave the ball to the Lobos.
New Mexico caught a break on third-and-1 at the Boise State 4. Wide receiver Ty Kirk fumbled on an option run to the left but fell on the ball for a first down at the 3. Jhurell Pressley scored to cut Boise State's lead to 25-7.
The Broncos responded with a long drive but couldn't score. Kirby Moore made a 36-yard catch to help them reach the New Mexico 4, where Petersen went with his offense instead of his kicker on fourth-and-1.
Quarterback Joe Southwick faked a handoff, rolled right and missed fullback Dan Paul with a pass.
The Lobos offense capitalized again. They gained 27 and 40 yards on back-to-back option plays to the right, where the Broncos only had one player to defend the quarterback and the pitch man. Kasey Carrier finished the 96-yard drive with a 5-yard touchdown run that made it 25-14.
Boise State answered with a TD, but New Mexico drove 75 yards to match.
The Lobos pulled to three points on the fumble return to the 1 and a touchdown and two-point conversion run by Gautsche.
Boise State built its halftime lead thanks in part to three first-half fumbles by the Lobos. Southwick tossed two touchdown passes - a 10-yarder to Chris Potter and a 9-yarder to Matt Miller -- and redshirt freshman Jay Ajayi's 71-yard run set up his own 1-yard TD run.
NOTES: Boise State backup tailback Drew Wright didn't travel because of an injury. ... Rod Davis replaced Reggie Ellis in the New Mexico starting lineup at nose tackle. ... Boise State senior left guard Joe Kellogg missed his second straight start with an injury. Junior Spencer Gerke replaced him. Kellogg played in the second half when starting right guard Michael Ames and backup Jake Broyles were injured. ... Boise State senior cornerback Jerrell Gavins, a returning starter who is coming off a severe knee injury last season, made his first start of the season in a two-corner alignment. ... Boise State nose tackle Mike Atkinson forced two fumbles. Ukwuachu recovered two. ... Ajayi's run was the longest for the Broncos since the 2010 MAACO Bowl Las Vegas. ... New Mexico has 12 rushing TDs this season. The Lobos had 10 last year. ... Southwick threw for 311 yards.