The Falcons are known for time-killing, monotonous (to spread offense boosters) long drives that can consume large chunks of playing time. But it was a hurry-up version that OC Mike Thiessen crafted at the end of the second half that inspired the team to a dominating second half performance and a 45-20 victory.
The Spartans had just finished a 5 play, 64 yard touchdown drive that featured Chevan Cordeiro’s accurate arm and the running of Kairee Robinson that put them ahead by the score of 20-10 with only 3:24 left in the half. With Emmanuel Michel and Dylan Carson pounding the middle, and John Lee Eldridge and Aidan Calvert speeding around the edges, the Falcons were in the endzone in less than 3 minutes to send the teams into the locker rooms at halftime with the Spartans leading by only 3 points.
As usual, if the Falcons won the toss for kickoff, they defer to the second half, and this was the case for this game. They love the opportunity to demoralize the opponent with back-to-back scores, and to make adjustments to the game plan on offense. In this case, the opportunity worked out just fine. The Falcons took the opening kickoff and started a drive that was very reminiscent of the Brad Roberts years. The 15 play, 8:42 drive featured 13 gives to the fullbacks. Eldridge got the touchdown on a pitch from Zac Larrier, and the Falcons led 24-20. My thought at the time was that if the Falcons had two more drives like this, it didn’t matter what the Spartans did on offense, they wouldn’t have enough time to accumulate enough points, given the amount of time taken off the clock.
Of course, drives like this inspire the whole team, and the defense responded with a three and out, and the offense followed with another drive of 13 plays for 71 yards in 7:38 for a touchdown, and the game was effectively over.
Emanuel Michel finished the game with 150 yards and 3 TDs and John Lee Eldridge had 102 yards and 2 TDs, and what may be one of the top ten offensive plays of the year.
A lot of credit has to go to Zac Larrier, who delivered a near flawless performance of executing the offense and reading the defense. It seemed that the coaches were more inclined to call for the option than earlier in the season, and possibly even more than the last few seasons with Haaziq Daniels as the quarterback. That indicates a high level of trust from the coaches.
The defensive performance was a little sketchy in the first half, but settled down in the second half and got a little more pressure on Cordeiro. It helped that the Spartans knew they weren’t going to get a lot of chances to score with the Falcons holding onto the ball so long. Payton Zdroik was out for this game and will likely miss a couple more games. Jayden Thiergood did made his first appearance this year, his presence will help while Zdroik is out.
San Diego State is up next, stand by for my preview of the game later this week.