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Air Force Football: Falcons drop Mountain West Title Game 27-24

In what was a very competitive Mountain West title game, the Falcons were unable to stop the big passing plays or create any of their own in a 27-24 loss to San Diego State.

Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports

The Air Force Falcons dared San Diego State Aztecs redshirt freshman quarterback Christian Chapman to beat them in the Mountain West Championship game. They put eight or nine guys in the box to take away the running game and they left their cornerbacks in one on one situation all night. Chapman would take the challenge, throwing for 203 yards and one touchdown to lead his Aztecs to the conference title with a 27-24 victory. San Diego State raises its record to 10-3 with an undefeated conference season. The Falcons drop to 8-5 overall and both teams now wait for bowl invitations.

Chapman, who won the game's offensive most valuable player award, was mature beyond his years Saturday night as he picked apart the match-ups in the passing game all night. Jemond Hazely was the safety net, while Donnel Pumphrey was the big threat in the passing game, including a 24-yard touchdown pass that tied the game at seven after Air Force's Timothy McVey scored a rushing touchdown to give the Falcons an early lead. Chapman benefited from the Falcons not being able to stop the run even with nine guys in the box. Pumphrey and Chase Price found lots of running room (157 yards combined rushing) behind a massive offensive line and the superior blocking of fullback Dakota Gordon, who found the end zone himself on a one-yard dive.

But, the rushing play of the game belonged to Chapman. On a key third down and one play, with the entire Falcons offense focusing on the running back or the fullback, Chapman faked a dive handoff and bootlegged to his right for a huge 13 yard run to help the Aztecs run more time off the clock and leave the Falcons with virtually no time left when the got the ball late in the fourth quarter. Karson Roberts would not be able to find enough Air Force receivers open to get the Falcons in field goal position and the time would run out on them in San Diego.

The Falcons inability to find a passing game was their biggest undoing versus San Diego State. The Falcons would rush for 303 yards as a team, including a game high 156 yards from junior running back Jacobi Owens. Owens was the workhorse of the night, and McVey was the touchdown maker as he would score three more touchdowns to help the Falcons play even football most of the night. Roberts would chip in 83 yards on the ground, but it was his inability to get a passing game started that hurt the Falcons. The Aztecs had a lot to do with that, however as they played two deep safeties most of the game to take away the play action passing play that Air Force has been killing teams with recently. The Aztecs shut out Jalen Robinette and Garrett Brown, the leading Falcon receivers on the night.