Falcons shut out Lobos, 42-0

Falcons junior fullback Mike DeWitt plows ahead for yardage against New Mexico in the teams' matchup Oct. 29, 2011, in Albuquerque, N.M. DeWitt had 15 carries for 64 yards and four touchdowns against the Lobos, marking the first four-touchdown performance by a Falcon since Chad Hall did it against Colorado State in 2007. The Falcons relied on the strength of their running game, throwing only three times and punting only twice in a 42-0 shutout of New Mexico. (U.S. Air Force photo/Bill Evans)

Falcons junior fullback Mike DeWitt plows ahead for yardage against New Mexico in the teams' matchup Oct. 29, 2011, in Albuquerque, N.M. DeWitt had 15 carries for 64 yards and four touchdowns against the Lobos, marking the first four-touchdown performance by a Falcon since Chad Hall did it against Colorado State in 2007. The Falcons relied on the strength of their running game, throwing only three times and punting only twice in a 42-0 shutout of New Mexico. (U.S. Air Force photo/Bill Evans)

Junior tight end Austin Briehl recovers a fumble in the end zone for the first score of the Air Force-New Mexico game in Albuquerque, N.M., Oct. 29, 2011. This was Briehl’s first touch of the season and first career touchdown, and led the way to a 42-0 rout of New Mexico. (U.S. Air Force photo/Bill Evans)

Junior tight end Austin Briehl recovers a fumble in the end zone for the first score of the Air Force-New Mexico game in Albuquerque, N.M., Oct. 29, 2011. This was Briehl’s first touch of the season and first career touchdown, and led the way to a 42-0 rout of New Mexico. (U.S. Air Force photo/Bill Evans)

Air Force senior running back Asher Clark fends off New Mexico junior cornerback Destry Berry in the Air Force-New Mexico game in Albuquerque, N.M., Oct. 29, 2011. Clark carried 10 times for 77 yards, a key part of the Air Force’s 335-yard rushing performance and 42-0 victory against New Mexico. (U.S. Air Force photo/Bill Evans)

Air Force senior running back Asher Clark fends off New Mexico junior cornerback Destry Berry in the Air Force-New Mexico game in Albuquerque, N.M., Oct. 29, 2011. Clark carried 10 times for 77 yards, a key part of the Air Force’s 335-yard rushing performance and 42-0 victory against New Mexico. (U.S. Air Force photo/Bill Evans)

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. -- Falcon football got back to its winning ways with a 42-0 shutout of the New Mexico Lobos Oct. 29.

The Falcons left defenders in the dust from their first touch of the football, when defensive back Jon Davis returned the first Lobo punt for 40 yards to give the Falcons' offense a short field on their first possession.

Senior quarterback Tim Jefferson spread the ball around to lead the Falcons downfield in eight plays and set the Falcons up for the score at the 1-yard line.

But that score was anything but a highlight moment. On a quarterback keeper, Jefferson stretched the ball out trying to break the plane of the end zone, but a New Mexico defender knocked it free. However, junior tight end Austin Briehl recovered the ball for his first career touchdown on what was his first time with the ball this season.

Air Force came back on the series, in the first act of what became the Mike DeWitt show. DeWitt is the starting fullback, at 6' 1" and 220 pounds, and kept plowing ahead for positive yardage between the center and guards. He scored his first of four touchdowns on a four yard dive and a five-play drive, and made the scoreboard resemble a slot machine in Air Force's favor, as he kept adding yards and points.

"He's evolved as a runner and is getting better with every game," said senior guard A.J. Wallerstein.

The Lobos' defense didn't make its first stop until the top of the second quarter. Forced to punt, Falcon punter David Baska booted the ball directly to Lobo kick returner Ty Kirk, who muffed the fair catch. Mikel Hunter recovered the ball in a pile at the 24, giving the Falcons another possession and excellent field position.

On the next play from scrimmage, Jefferson ran the ball to the left side for 12 yards and got a bloody nose for his efforts. That sent him to the sideline, and in came backup quarterback Connor Dietz. On the next play, Dietz handed off to DeWitt, who carried it in for the touchdown. The 18-second scoring drive put the Falcons up 21-0.

Dietz stayed in at quarterback, finishing the day with 87 yards and a touchdown on six carries.

"The opportunity presented itself for me to carry the ball and help this team, so that's what I did," Dietz said. "We had to come in and get back to our fundamentals, play good Air Force football and come away with a win."

Dietz did just that, leading the offense and not missing a beat. He took the defense down the field to set up Dewitt's third score of the day, this time from only a yard out. Herrington made the Falcons' lead 28-0.

The Air Force defense added to the overall effort when Jon Davis intercepted a tipped Lobo pass and returned it 22 yards. That gave the Falcons offense the ball at the Lobos' 41-yard-line.

The Lobos held firm for two plays, putting the Falcons in a third and 8. Dietz took the snap and dropped back in the pocket to pass, read the coverage and took off up the middle. He made a clean getaway from the line and ran untouched into the end zone for another Falcons touchdown, putting Air Force up 35-0 going into the half.

DeWitt added to the Falcons' score at the start of the fourth quarter with a one-yard dive up the middle for his fourth touchdown of the day. Kicker Erik Soderberg added the extra point to make it 42-0 Air Force.

The Lobos had one final drive, but the Falcons' defense held them on third down and forced the field goal attempt. That attempt went wide right, securing the shutout.

But the game was not without cost. Aside from Jefferson's bloody nose, another injury hit the defense. On the Lobos' third offensive series, Falcons defensive end Harry Kehs went down with a shoulder injury after tackling a running back. His day was over, as he was helped off the field and later taken to the locker room.

"We're going to find out how severe that is over the next 24 hours," said Falcons head football coach Troy Calhoun.

The Falcons defense has been riddled with injuries this season, with all the defensive line starters losing time to injury. This was defensive tackle Ryan Gardner's first game back from injury, but with Kehs going out, that left two freshmen starting at defensive end.

The win over New Mexico moves the Air Force season record to 4-4 and preserves the team's bowl chances. Because the Falcons have played two Football Subdivision teams this season, they must achieve a 7-5 record to be bowl-eligible. Their remaining opponents have a combined record of 10-16: Army (2-5), Wyoming (4-2), UNLV (1-5) and Colorado State (3-4).

Next up for the Falcons is Army in a game that could decide the home of the Commander In Chief's trophy for the next year.

"They're a big rival, and it's always good to beat a rival. Even more when it's another service academy," Wallerstein said.

A win against Army on Nov. 5 would secure the trophy for Air Force outright. Army could win the trophy by defeating both Air Force and Navy, a feat it last accomplished in 1996.

"Next Saturday is a completely new challenge, and we'll begin work on that this Monday," said Calhoun.

Kickoff of the Air Force-Army game is 1:30 Mountain Time at Falcon Stadium. The game will be telecast nationally by CBS and aired locally on KVOR 740 AM in Colorado Springs and KCKK 1510 in Denver. Falcon fans can also follow their team online by going to www.goairforcefalcons.com and clicking on "Gameday Central."