UNITED STATES AIR FORCE ACADEMY, Colo. - The Air Force (1-0) football team opened its 2017 season with a 62-0 win over Virginia Military Institute (0-1) at Falcon Stadium on Saturday, Sept. 2.
It was the Falcon's first shutout since defeating New Mexico on the road 42-0 on Oct. 29, 2011 and first opening day shutout since the 72-0 win over Nicholls State in 2009. The 62-point margin of victory is the second largest in school history behind the aforementioned Nicholls State game in 2009.
The Falcon defense allowed just 95 yards, the second fewest in school history to go along with the fourth fewest first downs allowed (six) in a game.
Air Force moved to 11-0 in season openers under head coach Troy Calhoun and improved to 41-19-2 all-time in season openers. The Falcons have now won 20 straight season openers against unranked teams and pushed their overall win streak to seven games, good for top-6 in the country.
The Falcons had a dominating rushing attack going against the Keydets, as Air Force outrushed VMI, 457-55, and seven different Falcons rushed for a touchdown. Senior Tim McVey led the attack for Air Force, rushing for 98 yards on 10 carries with one touchdown. Seven other Falcons rushed for at least 30 yards and Nolan Eriksen, Ronald Cleveland, Arion Worthman, Malik Miller, Aubrey Duty-Tyson and Christian Mallard all recorded a rushing touchdown.
Along with the rushing attack, Worthman was extremely efficient in the passing game, as the junior finished 8-for-12 for 172 yards and a career-high two touchdowns, both of which went to sophomore Geraud Sanders. Sanders finished with 62 yards on two catches, both of which were touchdowns, while McVey led the team in receptions (three) and receiving yards (77).
On the Falcon's opening drive, McVey capped off an eight-play, 65-yard drive with a 27-yard touchdown run as Air Force took an early 7-0 lead with just under 12:00 to play in the first quarter. During the drive, McVey had a 14-yard rush while Worthman added a 13-yard rush.
The Falcon defense held the Keydets to six-straight punts in the first half, while Air Force ended its drive with a touchdown in five of the seven first-half drives.
Air Force pushed the lead to 14-0 late in the first quarter as Worthman connected with Sanders for a 57-yard touchdown, the first touchdown reception of his career and first of two on the day.
The Falcons finished off a five-play, 69-yard drive early in the second quarter as Worthman found Sanders again, this time a 5-yard touchdown reception to put Air Force up 21-0. On the drive, Worthman had completions of 45 yards (McVey) and 14 yards (Marcus Bennett).
AF made it a 28-0 advantage with 5:27 remaining until the half, as Ronald Cleveland rushed it in the end zone from 11 yards out, capping a nine-play, 76-yard drive that included a 28-yard reception from McVey.
Air Force ended its 21-point second quarter with the team's fifth touchdown drive of the half. Worthman took a 4-yard rush to the end zone to make it 35-0 after Parker Wilson brought the Falcons into the red zone with a 43-yard run.
At the end of the first half, Air Force led in total yards (370-70), passing yards (172-29), rushing yards (198-41) and first downs (16-3).
Air Force's offense stayed hot in the second half, as the team scored a touchdown on four straight drives to open the half.
After the Falcons forced a VMI punt to open the half, Miller rushed it in from five yards out to put Air Force up 42-0. Later in the quarter, Eriksen recorded a 3-yard rushing touchdown to lift Air Force to a 49-0 lead before the Falcons scored twice more in the fourth quarter. On the opening drive of the fourth quarter, Mallard rushed it in from 10 yards out to make it 56-0 and Duty-Tyson capped off the afternoon's scoring with a 4-yard touchdown run with 4:26 to play in the game.
Daz Palmer led VMI on the ground with 32 yards on eight carries while Tyain Smith gained 10 yards on five carries. Palmer also led the team in receptions, finishing with 16 yards on four catches.
The Air Force defense was led by Jack Flor, who recorded eight tackles.
The Falcons will take next week off before heading to Ann Arbor to battle No. 9 Michigan on Saturday, Sept. 16 at 10 a.m. MT.