Abilene Christian Sports Information
ABILENE, Texas — Senior wide receiver Taylor Gabriel caught three touchdown passes — including a 75-yard touchdown pass from John David Baker — as Abilene Christian University rolled to a 52-28 win over New Mexico Highlands in a non-conference football game Saturday at Shotwell Stadium.
The win pushes the Wildcats — an NCAA Division I FCS independent in 2013 — to 3-0, while the NCAA Division II Cowboys fall to 1-1.
ACU — the nation’s highest-scoring team through three games — scored touchdowns twice in the final 35 seconds of the first half and twice in the first three minutes of the second half to put away the Cowboys after a defensive struggle for most of the first two quarters.
Baker completed 25 of 36 passes for 392 yards and five TDs, giving him 14 on the season. Baker hit Gabriel nine times for 160 yards and three touchdowns, including that 75-yarder late in the third quarter that made it 45-14.
Five turnovers — four fumbles and one interception — damaged the Cowboys’ chances.
The teams were engaged in a 10-7 slugfest late in the first half when the Wildcats pieced together a nine-play, 80-yard drive that ended when Baker hit Darrell Cantu-Harkless with an 8-yard touchdown pass to make it 17-7 with 35 seconds left in the first half. Harkless caught the pass in the right flat and jitterbugged his way into the end zone for the score.
On the first play of the ensuing drive, Thor Woerner recovered a fumble that gave ACU possession at the NMHU 15. Two plays later, Gabriel’s sliding catch of a Baker pass into the end zone put ACU further ahead, 24-7, with nine seconds left.
ACU’s first drive of the second half was a five-play, 64-yarder capped by Charcandrick West’s 1-yard run at the 13:21 mark.
On the Cowboys’ next possession, ACU defensive lineman Nick Finney picked up a fumble forced by linebacker Blake Rudd at the Cowboy 18-yard line and rumbled into the end zone.
The four straight Wildcat TDs were scored in a 6-minute span at mid-game.
The Cowboys fought back with an 80-yard drive of their own midway through the quarter when Lewis found Michael Harrison in the back of the end zone for an 18-yard TD pass. Zach Tapia’s successful PAT shortened ACU’s lead to 38-14.
Lewis finished 32 of 44 for 304 yards through the air. Josh Nobles had 11 grabs for 121 yards.