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(Saturday, September 4th)
Final Score: (11) Oregon 72, New Mexico 0
Eugene, OR (Sports Network) - Kenjon Barner rushed for a career-best 147 yards and four touchdowns on 17 carries subbing for the suspended LaMichael James as 11th-ranked Oregon used a powerful first half to dismantle New Mexico, 72-0, in the first-ever meeting between the schools.
"I've been saying all along, I think he's the most underrated player in the country," Oregon head coach Chip Kelly said of Barner. "Today he got a chance to shine. We've always felt that we've had 1A and 1B (with James and Barner). We run the ball 40 times a game; one guy is not going to get all the carries."
James, the Ducks' sophomore back, was suspended for the opener after pleading guilty to a misdemeanor domestic violence charge.
Darron Thomas finished 13-of-23 for 220 yards, two scores and an interception in his inaugural collegiate start for the Ducks (1-0), who finished 10-3 a year ago, including a Rose Bowl defeat to Ohio State.
Jeff Maehl made five receptions for 91 yards, David Paulson had a 30-yard TD reception and Barner added a 60-yard catch for a score as well.
Cliff Harris added a pair of punt returns for touchdowns for Oregon, which set a school record with 720 yards of total offense, and tied their Autzen Stadium record for points in one game after a 1999 contest against Nevada set the mark.
B.R. Holbrook threw for just 70 yards and was picked off twice on 11-of-24 completions for the Lobos (0-1), who were a dismal 1-11 in 2009.
Ty Kirk posted eight catches for 48 yards and Tarean Austin was limited to 26 yards on five carries in the setback.
"We made blaring mistakes and errors that we have to go through and correct. We had some good plays and hits, but we weren't consistent," noted Lobos head coach Mike Locksley. "Oregon is talented and well coached. We expected them to be good, we didn't expect our guys to make those plays and play that well against them."
An interception in the red zone spoiled Oregon's first drive of the contest, but its second possession netted a one-yard TD run from Barner to cap a brief drive.
The hosts then went 82 yards on their next series, and took a 14-0 edge when Thomas connected with Paulson for a 30-yard score. Before the first quarter was completed, Barner ran for touchdowns of 25 and 10 yards, respectively for a 28-0 game.
Barner scampered home from 42 yards early in the second quarter, then hauled in a 60-yard pass for another touchdown. Harris returned a punt 61 yards for a TD then Eric Solis nailed a 24-yard field goal to make it 52-0. Harris then completed the burst with a 64-yard punt return for a TD.
"Cliff's very talented. He's in his second year in the program and to have him behind Kenjon, who I think is the best returner in the country, is nice," Kelly added of Harris' ability.
Solis hit from 29-and-30 yards out in the third quarter, then the New Mexico defense came up with its shining moment when it blocked a Solis try on the first play of the fourth.
Daryle Hawkins posted a seven-yard touchdown run in the fourth to account for the final margin.
Oregon limited New Mexico to 107 total yards for the contest...Nate Costa played most of the second half under center and finished 10-of-14 for 131 yards for the Ducks...Remene Alston gained 110 yards on 21 totes for the victors.
09/04 21:10:11 ET