With some six minutes left in the third quarter Saturday at Dreamstyle Stadium, Lobos running back Daryl Chestnut crossed the goal line at the end of a 54-yard touchdown run.
Afterward, for perhaps 20 seconds, Romell Jordan, Chestnut’s teammate and fellow senior running back, lay motionless on the ground at midfield.
Injured? No, not this time.
Jordan, having thrown the block that cleared Chestnut’s path down the east sideline, was simply savoring the moment.
“The only thing that was in my head was touchdown,” Jordan said after Monday’s practice.
If his thoughts had been a bit more dramatic — such as, “Finally, I’m back!” — it would have been understandable. Saturday’s game was Jordan’s first in some 21 months after having torn an ACL in the spring of 2016.
“Nope, just the satisfaction that I did my job,” he said, “that my boy Daryl Chestnut got a nice little 54-yard touchdown.”
There would be more satisfying moments.
Later in a 38-14 victory over Abilene Christian, Jordan had a 14-yard run — giving the Lobos a first-and-goal at the ACU 6-yard line and setting up a 25-yard Jason Sanders field goal.
Still later, on the final play of the third quarter, Jordan broke a 44-yard run to the Abilene Christian 41-yard line. Four plays later, quarterback Lamar Jordan hit freshman wide receiver Jay Griffin with a 37-yard touchdown pass.
Romell Jordan finished the game with a team-best 65 yards on only three carries. For good measure, in addition to that crushing block, he made a tackle on special teams.
It has been a long and emotional journey back for Jordan, a Cleveland High graduate who hadn’t played in a game since the 2015 Gildan New Mexico Bowl.
On the final day of 2016 spring practice, Jordan suffered the torn ACL. He sat out that entire season.
Then, that September, Jordan’s mother, Tamela, died.
“It was real tough,” he said. “… There was a whole lot going on, and it was the lowest time in my life.”
Through it all, with the support of his teammates and coaches, Jordan worked his way back — culminating in Saturday’s performance.
“It felt really good to get back out there and play with the guys,” he said. “… I couldn’t have gotten through it without them.”
For Lobos coach Bob Davie, having Jordan back was far more rewarding than a 44-yard run or a key block.
“It was so good to see, so good to see,” Davie said Saturday after the game. “Just this big smile on his face. … He’s had a lot to handle.”
ROTHSCHILLER: Lobos nickel safety Jake Rothschiller has been honored as the Mountain West Conference Defensive Player of the Week for his performance against Abilene Christian.
Rothschiller, a senior from Westlake Village, Calif., led the UNM defense with eight tackles. He had a quarterback sack, forcing a fumble on the play, and later returned a pass interception 91 yards for the Lobos’ final touchdown of the game.
Listed at 5-foot-8 and 181 pounds, Rothschiller starts for UNM at nickel safety — a safety-linebacker hybrid position normally played by a much bigger individual.
NEVER TELL THEM THE ODDS: The betting line on Saturday’s UNM-NMSU game has fallen from an opening of New Mexico minus-13 (making the Lobos a 13-point favorite) to UNM minus-8 as of Monday afternoon.
That seems far more realistic than the original number, considering the Aggies beat the Lobos (32-31) last fall in Las Cruces and given that NMSU outgained Arizona State by a football field-and-a-half in losing to the Sun Devils 37-31 on Thursday.
LOBOS IN THE NFL: Former UNM running back Jhurell Pressley has been signed to the Atlanta Falcons’ practice squad for the second straight year, the NFL team announced. Pressley was waived from the active roster on Saturday but promptly added to the practice squad, where he spent most of last season.
Meanwhile, former Lobo wide receiver Marquis Bundy has been signed to the New York Giants’ practice squad. The Giants list him as having played at New Mexico State, but, hey, we’re used to that.
Bundy spent last season on the Arizona Cardinals’ practice squad but was waived by Arizona on Aug. 18. He was signed by the Giants five days later.
Only two former Lobos, Detroit Lions Pro Bowl safety Glover Quin (2006-08) and Dallas Cowboys offensive tackle Byron Bell (2007-10), are on NFL active rosters.