Highlights from Air Force's 21-17 loss on Friday night at San Diego State.
AIR FORCE PLAYER OF THE GAME
Kyle Johnson, linebacker
Johnson made a team-high nine tackles, including 2.5 of Air Force’s eight stops behind the line of scrimmage. He was also credited with a quarterback hurry. He gets the nod narrowly over Ronald Cleveland, who scored touchdowns of 12 and 4 yards, because of the defense’s overall performance. San Diego State scored just two touchdowns off the Falcons’ defense (the other came on a blocked punt), and the defense contributed to the scoring with a safety. Johnson was the ringleader of those efforts.
Ryan Agnew’s escape from the pocket on third-and-9 from his 7-yard line in the fourth quarter, with San Diego State trailing 17-14, changed the game. At the least, it would have helped the Aztecs escape the shadow of their end zone and flip field position. As it turns out, it ignited the game-winning drive.
SUBPLOTS WE WATCHED
Air Force’s tailback situation
This remains an unsolved mystery. Kade Remsberg drew his fourth straight start, then broke a season-long 27-yard run on his first attempt. Then he carried just twice more in the game. Joseph Saucier also carried just three times, gaining 9 yards (though he added an electric 66-yard return of a free kick following Air Force’s safety). The Falcons went to tailbacks just six times for 41 yards.
Best Plan B
As expected, the stout run defense of Air Force and San Diego State did much to stop each other in that area. Air Force found little relief in the air, passing for 51 yards (though 41 of those came on a touchdown-scoring drive). San Diego State hit a 55-yard pass on the second play of the game, leading to a touchdown, and two big passes for the game-winning score.
Who makes the game-changing play?
Air Force punter Charlie Scott dropped a snap just before halftime, leading to a blocked punt that San Diego State returned for a touchdown with 8 seconds remaining. He was then removed from the game. The Falcons made big plays, too, recording a safety and later an interception in San Diego State’s end zone, but that blocked punt was the one that impacted the game more than any other.
BY THE NUMBERS
100-yard rushing performances for an Air Force individual through the first half of the season
Consecutive losses for Air Force against San Diego State
Consecutive games against FBS competition that Air Force’s opponent has scored the game’s first touchdown
Yards on a carry for Air Force fullback Cole Fagan, who led the team with 90 rushing yards. His long run was the longest given up by San Diego State this season
Minutes the game was delayed by lightning, marking the third Air Force game this season to see action halted for that reason and fifth in the past two years – including both games against San Diego State