Colorado State football was defeated by Air Force 45-28 in an offensive shootout at Sonny Lubick Field Saturday afternoon. The loss to the Falcons (4-4) brings CSU’s record to 4-1 in the Mountain West and 6-3 overall on the season.
“They (Air Force) out-coached us and out-played us today. It was a disappointing loss but they deserve all the credit,” head coach Mike Bobo said. “We could not stop them defensively. They basically did whatever they wanted.”
Led by the senior duo of running back Dalyn Dawkins and wide receiver Michael Gallup, the CSU offense was virtually unstoppable early. The Rams scored on each of their first three possessions, taking only 12 plays to find the end zone three times during that span and scoring from distances of 55 and 76 yards.
The offense cooled off significantly in the second quarter though, as senior quarterback Nick Stevens was intercepted twice, one of which was returned for a defensive touchdown to put the Falcons up by seven at halftime.
The turnovers were Stevens’ first since the Rams lost 41-23 to No. 1 Alabama on Sept. 16.
“We had three turnovers, they had one. You lose the turnover battle you are usually going to lose the game,” Bobo said.
The three-year veteran starter looked to capture some momentum in the third quarter, leading the offense on a nine-play, 63-yard drive that was capped off with a nine-yard rushing touchdown from Izzy Matthews. The momentum was short-lived though as the Falcons immediately responded with a score of their own.
Going back to last season, Matthews has rushed for a touchdown in 12 consecutive games. In total, Matthews (12) and Dalyn Dawkins (141) combined for 153 yards yards on the ground, each back finding the end zone once. With the 100-plus yard performance, Dawkins has now gone over the century mark in four of the last five games.
On the outside, Gallup hauled in seven receptions for 161 yards and one touchdown. In his career, Gallup has recorded 384 receiving yards in two games against the Academy.
“In the first quarter they liked to man me up and I love man coverage, that’s one-on-one, that’s all day,” Gallup said.
Stevens finished the game 17-of-31 for 254 yards with two touchdowns and three interceptions.
“On the first interception, we had a pass to Warren (Jackson) off of a post-corner (route) and we got whipped at the right guard, and then Nick basically turned a bad play into a catastrophe,” Bobo said. “Sometimes you’ve got to take a sack and he tried to force it right there.”
Stevens did set a career-high with his 22nd touchdown pass this season. The California native needs only two touchdowns to pass Garrett Grayson (64) for the most career touchdown passes in program history.
Defensively, it was a struggle from the start for CSU. Air Force executed its triple-option offense to near perfection, rushing for 418 yards and controlling the ball for over 40 minutes in the game.
Quarterback Arion Worthman led the Falcons in rushing with 117 yards, but three separate ball carriers finished with at least 90 rushing yards in the Falcons victory.
With a win over the Rams, the Falcons have now won 3 of the last 4 meetings between the in-state rivals and snapped a five-game win streak for home teams in the series.
“My message to the team as we got our ass kicked today,” Bobo said. “If we’re who we say we are, coaches and players need to respond…It should hurt and it ought to be embarrassing. I’m embarrassed that was what we put on the field and I’m in charge of that. I’m also in charge of getting us ready for Wyoming next week.”
CSU football will travel to Laramie, Wyo. next Saturday for the annual Border War matchup with the Cowboys. The Pokes defeated the Rams 38-17 in Fort Collins last season and are 4-3 overall in 2017.
Collegian sports director Justin Michael can be reached by email at email@example.com or Twitter @JustinTMichael.