ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) Daryl Chestnut scored two touchdowns and quarterback Lamar Jordan threw for a career-high 213 yards Saturday to help New Mexico roll over Abilene 38-14 in the season opener for both teams.
The Lobos also turned in a stifling defensive effort after allowing the Wildcats to drive 99 yards on their first possession.
Abilene Christian stuffed New Mexico on a fourth and goal from the one, then went right back the other way in 15 plays, with 69 yards coming through the air by quarterback Dallas Sealey, who finished 33-for-55 for 240 yards and two interceptions.
“I thought we got better but we were a little cautious early,” Lobos coach Bob Davie said of the defense. “We didn’t really trigger, kind of played off them too much, gave them too much credit. Once we got our feet on the ground, we got a little more confidence. Particularly the way that game started off, I give them credit. They didn’t run the ball, they really didn’t try to run the ball but they kept us off balance all night.”
Thereafter, however, the Wildcats managed just 183 yards, including a total of eight rushing yards.
Chestnut, whose second touchdown came on a 54-yard burst around the left end, finished with 64 yards on four carries. He started New Mexico’s scoring with a 4-yard run.
“You can see the speed that Chestnut has when he breaks out,” Davie said.
Jordan added 52 rushing yards and threw for one score. His passing total represented the most in a game by one Lobos quarterback since Davie took the helm six seasons ago.
“We threw it a little more than we normally do, probably because we had to, maybe a little more than we wanted to,” he said. “We were balanced, but I kind of like when we’re running the ball down somebody’s throat a little bit more, to be honest.”
Forcing New Mexico into passing more still didn’t work in the Wildcats favor, said Abilene Christian coach Adam Dorrel.
“They don’t want to throw the ball, and if you force someone into doing something they don’t want to do and they beat you, then you tip your hat to them,” he said. “Again, we did some good things defensively, but we have things that we have to clean up moving forward.”
New Mexico defensive back Jake Rothschiller snuffed a Wildcats’ fourth-quarter scoring attempt, returning an interception 91 yards for a touchdown to put the Lobos up 38-7.
New Mexico led 14-7 at halftime, but scored a touchdown and a field goal on its two possessions of the third quarter for a comfortable 24-7 lead.
This was the first game for Dorrel as ACU’s head coach.
“I thought we did some good things, but we have some things to clean up,” he said. “I was most pleased that we had a group of players and coaches who came here believing we could win the game.”