In a game that produced 1247 yards in total offense, one defensive player was the determining factor.
When Calvin Tyler broke free for a 61 yard touchdown run with 3:54 left on the clock to put the Aggies ahead by 4 points, it seemed the Falcons had plenty of time to make another drive for the win. They already had produced seven plays of more than 30 yards, and only one of their 6 touchdown drive had taken more than 4 minutes.
Sure enough, the first three plays produced 37 yards and took the Falcons into Utah State territory at the 38 yard line. On the next play Haaziq Daniels broke free on a keeper before getting tackled at the Utah State 27 yard line. As he was falling to the ground LB Justin Rice reached in and ripped the football from his arms and Aggie Monte McGary fell on the ball to end the Falcon’s hopes.
This was not a lone incident instigated by Mr. Rice. At the start of the second quarter, the Falcons were marching toward a touchdown when Rice intercepted a Daniels pass on the goal line and took it out to the 8 yard line. The Aggies promptly marched 92 yards for their first lead of the night.
Add to that Rice’s 14 tackles, several of which were while plugging gaping holes in the Aggies defensive line, and we had a recurring theme for the evening. I already am fairly certain of my vote for Mountain West Defensive Player of the Year.
I suppose we shouldn’t complain about an offense that puts up 45 points. Yards up the middle were a little tough, but when a Falcon runner made it through the line, he was off to the races. Utah State was doing everything to stop the dive and it paid off with pitch outs and long running plays.
The passing attack was better than it has been, Daniels had some nice long passes and a couple of misfires. Micah Davis so far is the best receiver on the team.
Obviously, the big problem was pass defense. The Aggies lined up on a wide spread with four quick, fast wide receivers, and it was a rough matchup for the defensive backs. The Falcons were able to get some pressure on the quarterback, but weren’t able to wrap him up often enough, especially after Andrew Peasley came in. Demonte Meeks didn’t play until later in the game, and the announcers never mentioned that fact. I don’t know if it was because of an injury or matchups or something else. Vince Sanford had a career game from his outside linebacker spot with 9 tackles and 2 sacks.
Special teams were much improved this week. Snaps were accurate, and Matthew Dapore hit his one field goal attempt and made all his extra points. Charles Bein’s two punts averaged 45 yards, and both ended up inside the 20. Savon Scarver was bottled up on his kick returns, and Jordan Jackson blocked an extra point. The Falcons also smoothly handled an onside kick.
The Falcons now move on to Willie Taggart-coached Florida Atlantic in another home game. Please come back next Thursday for my attempt at applying the latest developments in Falcon football to the next game.