Ron Chenoy-US PRESSWIRE
Air Force had a great day rushing the ball with 461 yards, and now they are 4-1 in the Mountain West, looking like contenders.
The Air Force Falcons were written off as a team not capable of winning the Mountain West title, they went 1-2 in non-conference play and also lost to UNLV. The team was most known for running back Cody Getz who has three rushing games for over 200 yards, but now they have won three in a row and are 4-1 in league play.
Against the Nevada Wolf Pack on Friday night, the Falcons were without Getz, who had an ankle injury, but that didn't matter. The next man in line stood up and Air Force was able to defeat Nevada 48-31. It is no surprise that Air Force would run the ball, but going for 461 yards was a shocked. That amount is their second-most of the year, and most against a FBS opponent.
That next man up was Wes Cobb, he came up huge with a career-high 152 yards, and a touchdown, six other Air Force players had at least 46 yards. Then quarterback Connor Dietz had a big game in the air by throwing 6-of-7 for 139 yards and a pair of touchdowns. We knew that the Nevada secondary was not good, but when Air Force decided to through they were getting players wide opening. The first touchdown pass saw wide receiver Dontae Strickland wide open, and he then cruised untouched for a 46-yard score.
What is really surprising in this game is that the Air Force defense was able to slow down, and limit the Nevada pistol offense. Running back Stefphon Jefferson came into the game as the nation's leading rusher, and he was held in check for most of the game. Jefferson ended up with just 93 yards and one touchdown, and Friday's performance was just the second time that he was held under 100 yards.
After this game, Jefferson still leads the nation in yards per game -- second place is New Mexico's Kasey Carrier -- as well as total rushing yards. Unless Northern Illinois quarterback rushes for 293 yards, Jefferson will still lead the nation in rushing yards.
The way that Air Force was able to hold Jefferson down was amazing, considering that the Falcons give up 222 yards on the ground which is one of the 25 worst rush defense in the nation. It could have been the cold, or maybe the elevation, but Reno is at 4,400 feet and a jump to just over 6,000 feet should not really have winded Nevada that much.
Throughout this game, every time that Nevada scored, Air Force would counter with their own touchdown of their own. The game started to lean toward Air Force in the fourth quarter when Nevada had to settle for a field goal instead of a touchdown.
On the Falcons first possession of the fourth quarter, they drove down and scored to make it a 14-point game, and Nevada was unable to score the rest of the way.
With this win Air Force is in second place of the Mountain West, and will likely be tied with San Diego State and Fresno State, who are expected to win on Saturday.
Here is the box score, and just take a look at the total plays, and rush plays for Air Force compared to Nevada: