Air Force Falls to No. 22 San Diego State
Sept. 23, 2017

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U.S. AIR FORCE ACADEMY, Colo. -- In a back-and-forth game that featured a 1-hour, 28-minute weather delay, the Air Force football team fell 28-24 to two-time defending Mountain West Champion and No. 22 ranked San Diego State Saturday night at Falcon Stadium.

The Falcons fall to 1-2 overall and 0-1 in conference play while the Aztecs improved to 4-0 overall and 1-0 in conference.

Air Force struck first as Ronald Cleveland ran it in from 29 yards out to cap off a 10-play, 79-yard drive with 2:46 to play in the first quarter. It was a career-long run for Cleveland and his fourth straight game with a touchdown. On the drive, Parker Wilson and Arion Worthman combined to rush for 37 yards before Cleveland broke free down the left sideline. On the extra point, the snap was fumbled, which resulted in a 6-0 Air Force lead.

After the teams traded a pair of three-and-outs, Air Force capitalized on great field position with a 45-yard field goal by Luke Strebel to make it 9-0 Falcons. The field goal gave Strebel his 201st career point, moving him into ninth place on the Air Force career scoring list.

Rain was an issue for both teams throughout the first quarter, causing the game to go into a weather delay at 6:05 p.m., with 7:56 remaining in the second quarter. The delay officially lasted 1-hour and 28-minutes and both teams agreed to forgo halftime because of the long break.

Following the weather delay, SDSU marched down for a touchdown to cut into the Air Force lead and make it 9-7 Falcons. Rashaad Penny, who entered this game as the NCAA's leading rusher, scored from two yards out with 5:55 to play in the second quarter. The Aztecs got into the red zone on a 42-yard reception by Kahale Warring. Air Force was called for a defensive pass interference on a third down incompletion, placing the ball on the 2-yard line.

The Aztecs grabbed their first lead of the game late in the third quarter, as Penny scored on a 20-yard rush to put SDSU up 14-9, capping off an 11-play, 73-yard drive that lasted 5:21.

With 13:25 to play in the fourth quarter and SDSU facing a fourth down, Garrett Kauppila came up with a blocked punt that was returned to the San Diego State 4-yard line by Danny Highland, the first fumble recovery of his career and first career blocked punt for Kauppila. Two plays later, Worthman punched it in from two yards out to put Air Force up 15-14. Worthman connected with Marcus Bennett for the 2-point conversion to make it 17-14 Falcons.

San Diego State answered with a touchdown of its own on the next drive, as Aztec quarterback Christian Chapman hit David Wells for a 28-yard touchdown down the middle of the field to put SDSU up 21-17 with 11:32 to play in the fourth quarter.

Air Force didn't take long to grab the lead back, as Tim McVey finished off an 11-play 75-yard drive with a 12-yard rushing touchdown to put the Falcons up 24-21. A big play on the drive came on a wide receiver reverse pass where Tyler Williams found Geraud Sanders for a 31-yard reception.

The Aztecs were able to answer yet again, this time on a 53-yard touchdown run by Penny, which turned out to be the game winner, to put SDSU up 28-24 with 5:39 to play in the game.

The Falcons were forced to punt with 2:12 remaining in the game. Needing a stop, the Falcon's defense forced a three-and-out and got the ball back with 1:15 remaining, but an interception on the final drive sealed the Aztec win.

Air Force extended its school-record consecutive games scoring streak to 301 games, which is the third longest active streak in the nation and fifth longest in NCAA history.

Wilson led the Falcons with a career-high 99 yards on a career-high 20 carries while Worthman finished with 62 rushing yards and a touchdown.

Penny finished with 128 yards and three touchdowns on 20 carries while Juwan Washington added 68 yards on 14 carries. Chapman finished 10-for-16 with 180 yards and a touchdown.

Defensively, Air Force was led by senior Grant Ross's 11 tackles, which tied a career high. Sophomore Mosese Fifita had the first sack and first forced fumble of his career while junior Kyle Floyd had a career-high three pass break-ups.

The Falcons will hit the road next weekend, traveling to Albuquerque to battle New Mexico on Saturday, Sept. 30 at 5 p.m. MT on CBS Sports Network.

 

 

 


 

 

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