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Air Force Blows Open Close Game with 20 point Fourth Quarter

Two turnovers, a key injury and three D.J. Johnson touchdowns blew open a tough game as Air Force defeated San Jose State 37-16 in the conference opener.

Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

In a game that was much closer than the final score would indicate, the Air Force Falcons defeated the San Jose State Spartans 37-16 in the opening Mountain West Conference game for both teams Saturday night. The Falcons broke a four-game conference opening losing streak to improve their record to 2-0 overall and 1-0 in the conference. San Jose State drops to 1-1 overall and 0-1 in the conference.

There were three major events that all went against the Spartans in the key fourth quarter. The first involved an injury to linebacker Christian Tago, who suffered a head injury when he was targeted in the head on a block by Air Force wide receiver Tyler Williams. The play knocked Tago out of the game and the Falcons would take advantage, especially fullbacks D.J. Johnson (21 rushes for 103 yards and 3 touchdowns) and Shayne Davern who were the targets of Tago throughout the game on the triple option dive plays. The Falcons really took control of the game when Tago exited.

Turnovers were the other two key events, with one interception being thrown by each quarterback in the deciding quarter. The first interception set the Falcons up with a short field. Kalon Baker picked off a tipped pass at the San Jose State 34 yard line by Kenny Potter, who started the game at quarterback. The short field and the loss of Tago allowed the Falcons to score when Johnson scampered into the endzone from the 13 yard line to put the Falcons up 23-16. The Falcons would miss the extra point (the Spartans missed one in the game too) to keep the score close.

The Spartans would punt and Air Force would come up with another scoring drive. A 45-yard run by quarterback Nate Romine, who finished the game with 116 yards on the ground, and a pass interference call in the end zone on San Jose State would allow Johnson to score again from the one yard line on a fourth and goal play to put the lead at 30-16. This drive could be costly for the Falcons however, as Romine exited the game and was carted off the field with a leg injury after being pinned under a pile of three San Jose State defenders on a four yard run.

San Jose State would appear to be rallying with a nice drive before the third major event of the fourth quarter occurred, an interception by Weston Steelhammer off of backup quarterback Joe Gray to basically end the game for the Falcons. Air Force, with Karson Roberts replacing Romine, would march down the field quickly for another touchdown. A 52-yard run by Jacobi Owens would help set up Johnson's third touchdown of the quarter, a 34-yard dive to make the final score 37-16 in favor of the home cadets.


  • Air Force won their ninth home game in a row with the win Saturday.
  • Garrett Brown had 98 yards total offense, including the first touchdown of the game with a 63-yard run
  • Tago's 14 tackles were a career high for him