It wasn't the 72-0 beating that Air Force handed to Nicholls State in 2009, but the Falcons dashed their way to a convincing 44-16 win over the Colonels at Falcon Stadium Saturday afternoon.
The star of the game was sophomore running back Jacobi Owens, who ran up and down the field for 233 yards on 23 carries. Owens took advantage of the injury to junior running back Devin Rushing during fall camp to become the starting tailback, and he capitalized on the day against a porous Nicholls State defense. The Falcons would total 539 yards on the ground to overwhelm their FCS opponent.
Speaking of Rushing, he had a good day himself. Celebrating his jersey being returned to him after the national news about his injury and the way Head Coach Troy Calhoun handled the situation, Rushing found the end zone twice against the Colonels while also rushing for 55 yards.
Another question from the fall camp was answered as senior quarterback Kale Pearson started and played the bulk of the time in the opening game for Air Force. Pearson only passed the ball six times, completing three for a minimal 19 yards, but he did rush eight times for 46 yards as the Falcons remained true to their identity with triple option football.
While the outcome was positive, there were some kinks for Air Force early in the game. The game was tied at nine early in the second quarter. Air Force was having a hard time moving the ball. In fact, the first two points of the game for Air Force were registered by sophomore safety Weston Steelhammer who sacked starting quarterback Kalen Henderson. Henderson got the start after Nicholls State coaches decided this week to redshirt quarterback Tuskani Figaro.
Air Force would see senior fullback Broam Hart score a touchdown with 10 minutes left in the second quarter, and from that point forward the Falcons took control of the game. Including the Hart touchdown, Air Force would score 35 straight points to put the game out of reach. Nicholls State would replace Henderson with another senior quarterback in Beaux Hebert. Hebert would lead a drive capped by a touchdown pass to Darryl Wilson II to end the scoring for the day.
The most negative aspect of the day for Air Force were penalties. The Falcons committed nine penalties which cost them 109 yards on the day. The flags reminded many Falcons fans of last year, when undisciplined play cost the Air Force team in key situations.
Air Force, now 1-0 on the season, will open up their Mountain West schedule next week when they head to Laramie to take on the Wyoming Cowboys. The game will be at 8:15 p.m. MDT and be televised on ESPNU.