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It was clear from the start of the game that Air Force was going to dominate CSU on the ground. The Falcons put together two consecutive touchdown drives within the first five minutes of the game and the Rams couldn’t keep up, losing to Air Force 42-21.
The Air Force offense exploded during the game, behind the efforts of Cody Getz, who rushed for over 222 yards against the Rams’ porous defense.
“The only hope really we had there for a while was maybe that running back would cramp up and take himself out,” CSU coach Jim McElwain said. “And you can’t worry about what they do, I mean, you just have to run to the ball and tackle it.”
But the Rams couldn’t stop the Air Force rushing attack, because when it wasn’t getz running the ball, it was wide receiver Ty MacArthur who rushed for 75 yards and two touchdowns, or quarterback Connor Dietz who rushed for 58 yards and one score.
For much of the game, it didn’t matter who was running the ball for Air Force, they were running for big gains on the Rams. As a team, the Falcons rushed for a total of 459 yards, 4 touchdowns and averaged 6.9 yards per carry thanks to so some solid blocking down the field.
“I thought we were pretty sound on the perimeter,” Air Force coach Troy Calhoun said. “Whenever you have some good perimeter blocks, you have a chance for some larger gains.”
The Rams managed to mitigate some of those larger gains later in the game, but after getting into a 21-0 hole in the first quarter, their offense simply could not put enough points on the board.
Despite their offensive struggles during of the game, but some bright spots were seen on the field.
Filling in for the injured Garrett Grayson, backup quarterback MJ McPeek led the Rams on three separate touchdown drives in game, but it simply wasn’t enough.
CSU had a chance to make it a one-possession game at the end of the second quarter when a Getz fumble near midfield put the Rams in good field position with two minutes remaining in the first half. CSU was trailing 28-14 at the time.
Just two plays after recovering the fumble however, the Rams gave the ball right back at the 50 after Chris Nwoke fumbled the ball right back on a reception over the middle, putting CSU’s defense back on the field.
Air Force scored a touchdown just three plays later and put the Rams in a 35-14 hole at half that proved to be too difficult for CSU’s offense to climb out of.
“It was pivotal in our game,” linebacker Shaquil Barrett said. “We got the offense back the ball, (trying) to make it a seven-point game but then they turned it over and we came out there like ‘we can stop them, we did it just before,’ so that was the plan to come out there, stop them again but we wasn’t able to do that and that made it a 21-point game.”
The second half proved to be much of the same for the Rams as CSU turned the ball over twice to Air Force through two McPeek interceptions and the Falcons took advantage, controlling the clock and giving the Rams the defeat.
The loss gives the Rams and first-year head coach Jim McElwain their first Mountain West Conference loss of the year and gives Air Force its first conference win of the season.
For more in-depth coverage of today’s game be sure to check out Monday’s Collegian.
Football Beat Reporter Andrew Schaller can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.