The University of New Mexico Lobo football team kicks off the 2017 season with a home game against Abilene Christian at 6:00 pm on Saturday, September 2nd at DreamStyle Stadium. The Lobos enter the season on a high note after a record setting 2016 season in which UNM set school records for points per game (36.7) and total points on the season (477).
The Lobo rushing attack finished first in the nation with 4550 team rushing yards in 13 games, led by a tandem of 1,000-yard rushers Teriyon Gipson and Tyrone Owens. The duo became the first tailbacks in school history to each reach the century mark in a season while bruising back Richard McQuarley scored an impressive 18 rushing touchdowns.
UNM will once again feature a relentless ground game centered around a stable of tailbacks and veteran quarterback Lamar Jordan. Although Jordan threw the ball only 75 times in 12 games, he completed a career high 53.3% of his passes with 145.3 passer rating, while adding 739 yards and three scores on the ground.
A big key to UNM’s success in the ground game is their experienced offensive line, led by senior left tackle Avery Jordan and center Blaise Fountain. Fountain, a 6-0, 284-pound native of Wichita, Kansas, started all 13 game for the Lobos last season, despite suffering a hand injury that limited his snapping ability. Jordan assumed the starting left tackle position in the team’s final six games of the season and enters 2017 as a vital member of the left side of the offensive line.
The Abilene Christian Wildcats enter 2017 after a disappointing 2-7 record last year, with wins over Incarnate Word and Northwestern St. The Division 1 FCS school led by first year head coach Adam Dorrel will have their hands full trying to stop the potent UNM ground game, something much larger and more talented FBS schools, failed to do last year.
Sophomore quarterback Dallas Sealey threw for 2788 yards and 19 touchdowns in 2016, including an impressive 346-yard, five touchdown game against rival Incarnate Word on 10/22/16. For the underdog Wildcats to keep pace with the UNM offense, Sealey and the Wildcat passing game will need to deliver a similar performance on Saturday.