The number one rushing offense in the nation faced off against the third-ranked rush defense in Colorado Springs on Friday night, as the Air Force Falcons hosted the New Mexico Lobos.
For the first half of the game, the vaunted Falcons triple-option had the upper hand on the Lobos, with Air Force scoring a rushing touchdown on all three of their drives, highlighted by two first-half scores by fullback Brad Roberts.
Earl on, the Lobos missed tackles and blew assignments, with Air Force running at will over Rocky Long’s defense.
The second half proved to be a different story, with UNM forcing the Falcons to punt on their opening drive of the second period and three forced fumbles on the subsequent three possessions for Air Force.
Rocky Long’s defense made the necessary adjustments in the second half, and the defense did its part by forcing three turnovers. The offense, on the other hand, could not sustain drives, and UNM’s special teams unit had a night to forget, with four missed field goals by George Steinkamp and Andrew Shelley.
The Falcons rushed for 366 yards and four touchdowns in the 28-0 victory.
Quarterback Haaziq Daniels had his best game of the season passing the ball, completing four of five passes for 66 yards, including a critical 28-yard pass to tight end Kyle Patterson on a third and 13-yard play in the first half that helped extend an Air Force drive. Instead of UNM taking possession of the ball and reversing momentum. The play led to the second rushing touchdown of the period for Air Force,
Roberts led all players with 177 rushing yards and three rushing touchdowns on 28 carries. The sophomore fullback did an excellent job filling in for starter Timothy Jackson, who missed the game with an injury.
New Mexico did not run the ball as well in this matchup as in their previous games. Four Lobos, led by Bobby Cole and Nathaniel Jones, combined to rush for 83 yards on 25 carries.
For the second time this season, the Lobos lost the game despite leading in turnover differential. Red Zone efficiency proved to be a deciding factor in this game, with the Falcons converting three of four red zone chances into touchdowns, while the Lobos failed to score even a field goal on their three red zone opportunities.
With the loss, New Mexico moves to 0-4 on the season and 0-13 dating back to last season. The Lobos will look to get their first win of the season against the Utah State Aggies in Logan, Utah, on Thanksgiving Day.
Like New Mexico, Utah State is looking for their first win of the season after four lopsided losses to Boise State, San Diego State, Nevada, and Fresno State.
The Falcons continue their season with a home matchup against Colorado State on Thanksgiving Day in Colorado Springs.
Image Credit: Justin Tafoya/UNM