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Air Force beats Colorado State for 13th time in 15 years

Justin Michael Avatar
November 20, 2022

Air Force extended its winning streak over Colorado State to six games with a 24-12 victory over the Rams in Colorado Springs Saturday night. 

The Falcons rushed for 359 yards as a team, the sixth time this season they’ve gone for at least 300 on the ground. And on a night where Air Force did not complete a single pass (0-of-2), the cadets stayed true to their identity and completely imposed their will.

The loss was yet another disappointing result for the Green & Gold in a rivalry game, which is a trend that Jay Norvell will need to change. The Air Force series has been particularly brutal for CSU over the last 20 years though. 

Going back to 2000 the Rams are just 6-16 against the Falcons. And since Troy Calhoun took over in 2007, the Rams are now 2-13 against their Mountain West foes. For all the emphasis that gets put into the Rocky Mountain Showdown, it’s the Falcons that truly own the state after also sweeping their two-game series with the Buffs. 

Brad Roberts was unsurprisingly a major factor for the Falcons. His 34-yard rushing touchdown put Air Force up two scores — a lead that pretty much felt insurmountable given what we’ve seen from the two sides this fall. But it was a lot more than just the big play. His 19 carries for 111 yards in the first half was a big part of what allowed the Falcons to dominate time of possession in general. In total he finished with a career-high 184 yards and averaged five yards per carry. 

While this game ended up being a two-score finish, it was easy to figure out why it was fairly lopsided for three quarters. One side was able to consistently move the sticks and finish drives with points, one side was not, at least early on. CSU had chances to chip into the deficit and make things interesting. In a game where executing the basics matters more than ever though, the Rams consistently came up short. 

CSU ended up trailing by three scores at halftime (17-0) after an unfortunate sequence of events that pretty much sums up the 2022 season. After starting on their own 3-yard line, CSU was driving with tempo and looked like they may actually go into the break with some momentum, but the Rams ultimately stalled and turned the ball over on downs at the Air Force 29-yard line with 26 seconds left in the half. 

Five plays and 43 yards later the Falcons were able to extend the lead with a 44-yard field goal. So instead of capitalizing and ideally going into the locker room down a single score, CSU had the worst case scenario play out, which was coming away with nothing and then allowing Air Force to put even more points on the board. 

After going down 24-0 in the third quarter the Rams avoided being shutout by making the most of a rare miscue by the Air Force. A muffed punt by the Falcons gifted the Rams with prime field position and CSU was able to take advantage with a 28-yard touchdown pass from Clay Millen to Tory Horton. 

Nov 19, 2022; Colorado Springs, Colorado, USA; Air Force Falcons safety Camby Goff (11) drops back to pass against the Air Force Falcons during the second quarter at Falcon Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

Although the offense struggled to produce points until this game was essentially out of hand, Millen was efficient as a passer all night. The freshman quarterback completed 19 of his 24 attempts, finishing with 179 yards, two touchdowns and no turnovers. He was effective as a scrambler too, although the final stats don’t necessarily reflect that due to lost yardage on sacks. 

With Horton able to produce 35 receiving yards Saturday, the junior from Fresno, California became CSU’s first wide receiver to record a 1,000-yard season since Warren Jackson in 2019. Trey McBride was the most recent Ram to accomplish the feat overall. 

Along with Horton, freshman tight end Jordan Williams also found the end zone in this one. He had just one reception coming in but made a nice play in the fourth quarter to cap off CSU’s second scoring drive. 

Defensively the Rams were led by Dequan Jackson. The veteran linebacker had a team-high 11 tackles and now only needs 11 more to have the first 100-tackle season of his career. 

Defensive end C.J. Onyechi had another impressive game as well, finishing with 10 total tackles, one sack and a fumble recovery. Paired with Mo Kamara who also had a sack, CSU’s edge rushers continue to produce big plays on a weekly basis. 

Unfortunately for the Rams, as consistent as some of the individuals have been this fall, it just hasn’t been enough to overcome the team’s flaws. We’ll see if the Rams can end the year with a high note by beating New Mexico on Senior Day.

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