Football: Defense carries Falcons to 26-14 victory over Aztecs

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Don Branum
  • U.S. Air Force Academy Public Affairs
The U.S. Air Force Academy football team won its second straight Mountain West Conference game on the strength of its defense, which scored two touchdowns in Falcons' 26-14 victory against San Diego State University Sept. 26 at Falcon Stadium here.

The Falcons picked off San Diego State's quarterback four times, including a 47-yard interception run back for a touchdown by defensive back Reggie Rembert. 

Falcons linebacker Andre Morris also recovered a fumble forced by Rembert and returned it 47 yards for a score. Falcons defensive lineman Myles Morales and linebacker Alex Means each accounted for a sack, with defensive linemen Ben Garland and Rick Ricketts sharing a third sack against the Aztecs' QB.

Both teams' offenses had trouble finding a rhythm. San Diego State scored the first offensive touchdown with less than four minutes left in the game, while the Air Force's offensive difficulties stemmed mainly from penalties. The Falcons were flagged nine times for 75 yards, including a holding penalty that nullified a 46-yard touchdown run by Savier Stevens in the third quarter. Only six points came out of Air Force's three trips inside the red zone.

"Because of penalties, we just left way too many points out there on the field,"said  Falcons head coach Troy Calhoun. "There were just many more points to be had. But we didn't turn it over, and then we created a bunch of turnovers."

The Falcons reserve quarterback Connor Dietz started the game for the Falcons. Starter Tim Jefferson suffered a sprained ankle in Air Force's 37-13 victory over New Mexico Sept. 19.

"The only guys we're going to play are the guys who can go full-speed," Coach Calhoun said. "For us at the Academy, our guys have to have smoke blowing out of their ears and play like their hair's on fire. If there's any reservation at all, you don't play. Eerything we asked (Dietz) to do, he did a quality job with. It's the guy's first start as a sophomore. He's going to be a good player."

Falcons kicker Eric Soderberg put four kicks through the uprights for the Air Force on six attempts, including a career-long 48-yard field goal that gave the Academy a 13-0 lead 1:42 into the second quarter. Soderberg became the eighth player in Air Force history to hit four field goals in a game and the first since Joey Ashcroft kicked four field goals in Air Force's 49-30 victory against Army Nov. 9, 2002.

The Air Force special teams unit also gave two points to San Diego State on a punt play on the Falcons' 28. The snap sailed over Soderberg's head and out the back of the end zone for the safety.

The Air Force had 294 yards of total offense, including 58 runs for 243 yards and 51 yards on two completions from Dietz, who was 3 of 6 with no touchdowns or interceptions. The Falcons had a 36 percent conversion rate on third down. Air Force had the edge on time of possession with 33:23.

Air Force is now 3-1 on the season heading into a game against rival service academy Navy Oct. in Annapolis, Md. The Falcons' conference record of 2-0 is their second such start in three years. Calhoun is 20-10 in his third season, 13-5 in conference play and 11-3 at home.