Make it 4-0 for the Aztecs with a 28 - 24 win over the Air Force Academy Falcons. With a lighting strike leading to a 90 minute delay, almost non stop rain and three Rashaad Penny TD’s this is was roller coaster for Aztec fans. Here is a breakdown of how everyone performed.
The degree of difficulty on the night for Chapman was higher than Simone Biles going for a world record on the vault. 10 of 16 for 180 yards, a touchdown
and no interceptions in driving rain and 50 degrees shows that Chapman is shading the game manager moniker and developing into a full blown quarterback. He had a toss go bad early in the game but played mistake free ball after that. A pair of huge completions on 3rd down in the second half helped give the run game some breathing room in the box.
RUNNING BACKS: (A+)
Rashaad Penny rose to the occasion well, 128 yards and 3 scores was exactly what the Aztecs needs to get out of Colorado with a win. There was a weather related fumble in the first on a pitch from Chapman and one open hole in the 3rd that was missed when he slipped, but things considered Penny remained his reliable self. The biggest play of the night was a 53 yard touchdown run to win the game, where he reversed the field mid run and just straight up out ran the entire defense. The biggest stat on the night that needs to be highlighted was his lack of fumbles, not turning the ball over in those weather conditions can be just as productive as a big run at times.
WIDE RECEIVERS: (B+)
Mikah Holder and Quest Truxton both had big drive sustaining catches in the second half. The blocking was on point and helped Penny swing the ball out on several carries. With all the rain and wind there were large portions of the game where it was clear that passing wasn't an option so a limited amount of opportunities for the group.
TIGHT ENDS: (A-)
David Wells and Kahale Warring are becoming the grease that makes this offensive machine work so well. Warring had the longest reception of any Aztec with a 42 yard catch that led to a score and Wells caught a 28 yard Touchdown late in the game. Both made major contributions in run blocking all night long. People will now need to start specifically game planning against these two.
OFFENSIVE LINE: (B+)
What a test to follow up Stanford with. Altitude, bad weather and a night where the defense was regularly packing the box with eight or more made for a rough night but they didn't collapse. Chapman was only sacked once and both of the running backs averaged at least 5 yards per carry so the offense wound up having an overall decent night.
DEFENSIVE LINE: (C+)
There was a noticeable amount of rushing yardage up the middle allowed early in the game. No sacks on the night is also a bad sign. They made adjustments and closed out the game well but an overall forgettable performance from the defensive line.
These boys were busy all bight long with the option attack of Air Force forcing them to be so side to side active. Before the weather delay Air Force put together a 10 play 79 yard scoring drive where the entire defensive front looked overwhelmed, after the rain delay they made adjustments and went into shutdown mode. Sophomore Troy Cassidy had a bit of a breakout night, making several huge plays, including a pair of big stops on 3rd downs. They Aztecs have seen wildly different offenses each week and showed great skill in adapting to what each week has shown.
DEFENSIVE BACKS: (A)
Air Force only attempted 6 passes on the night and one of them was intercepted by Trey Lomax to seal the win, so most of the secondary’s contribution was in stopping the run. These kids put on a clinic in open field tackling, in addition to Lomax, Traiq Thompson, Ron Smith and Kameron Kelly all made notable solo tackles that prevented huge plays. This will probably be the lowest number of pass attempts in a game that they will see all season long but it is significant to know that when need be the Aztec secondary seems capable of being used to stop the run.
SPECIAL TEAMS: (PASS)
John Barron gets credit for being able to make all his PAT’s, which is a tall order in the kind of weather they had. Brandon Heicklen had a rough night punting, he got leveled (ended up being called for roughing the kicker) and had a kick blocked late, not to mention he was kick straight in to the wind multiple times. All that and he still averaged an impressive 38.6 yards per kick.
The attendance was listed as 27,575 but I think its a safe bet that slightly less than that remained at the end of the game so big props to anyone who was still there by the end of the game. But even if you were nice and dry at home watching this one you deserve a shoutout if you made it though the technical glitches, the water soaked cameras and 90 minute delay and didn't migrate over to something else.
Up next the Aztecs take on Northern Illinois at home this coming Saturday.