by Staff Sgt. Don Branum
U.S. Air Force Academy Public Affairs
FALCON STADIUM, Colo. — Air Force scored early and often, handing the Nicholls State Colonels their worst loss in the school’s history with a 72-0 blowout at Falcon Stadium Sept. 5.
The Falcons’ defense set the tempo for the game, recovering four of the Colonels’ five fumbles and keeping Nicholls State out of the red zone, while the Falcons’ offense converted the Colonels’ turnovers into 24 points and moved the ball almost at will.
“The one thing that was evident is that our guys were excited to play,” said Falcons head coach Troy Calhoun after the game. “I was really pleased with the preparation for this game.”
Falcons fullback Jared Tew set a new career record for rushing touchdowns, scoring three in the first half. Second-string quarterback Connor Dietz led overall rushing with 83 yards on seven carries, followed by second-string fullback Nathan Walker, who had eight rushes for 73 yards.
Overall, the Falcons ran for 474 yards and eight touchdowns on 68 carries. Air Force was less prolific in the air, with starting quarterback Tim Jefferson completing 5 of 7 passes for 102 yards and one touchdown, including a 57-yard pass over the middle to Kevin Fogler for a score.
Nicholls State surprised Air Force early with a fake punt from their own 2 yard line with the Falcons leading 7-0. Colonels fullback Marlin Meeks pushed through the middle of the Falcons’ defensive line, gaining 28 yards. But Air Force responded on the next play, hitting quarterback Caston LaQuinton for a one-yard loss and stripping the ball. Falcons inside linebacker Justin Moore recovered the ball at the Colonels’ 32, leading to Air Force’s only field goal of the day.
The turnover apparently took the wind out of Nicholls State’s sails. The Colonels managed only 151 yards of total offense on 57 plays and were one for 14 on third-down conversions. Nicholls State didn’t see the Falcons’ side of the field until 1:33 into the second quarter, where the Falcons again stripped the ball from LaQuinton.
“We’ve got a lot of work to do, obviously,” Nicholls State head coach Jay Thomas said. “I felt like our guys played hard — we just could never get anything going at all.”
Freshmen on both teams had a chance to play during the second half.
“You can’t replace what it means for anybody to … get into a game, be a part of a winning team, and for your family to be here, too, because most of the (cadets’) families were in town this weekend,” Calhoun said.
The coach said the Falcons still needed some work, offensively and defensively.
“Any time you have seven penalties, that’s definitely something you need to work on,” he said. “Offensively, any time you take a sack in the redzone — it can’t happen.” And while the Falcons capitalized on bad center-quarterback exchanges by Nicholls State, the defense needs to force more turnovers.
The Falcons finished the 2008 regular season 8-4 overall and 5-3 in the Mountain West Conference. Their next two games are on the road, going to Minnesota Sept. 12 and playing conference rival New Mexico Sept. 19.