Wyoming defeats Air Force, 56-23

Senior Air Force running back Anthony LaCoste finds open field against the Wyoming defense during the Falcons-Cowboys matchup at Falcon Stadium Sept. 21, 2013. LaCost had nine carries for 27 yards and one touchdown in the Falcons' 56-23 loss. (U.S. Air Force photo/Mike Kaplan)

Senior Air Force running back Anthony LaCoste finds open field against the Wyoming defense during the Falcons-Cowboys matchup at Falcon Stadium Sept. 21, 2013. LaCost had nine carries for 27 yards and one touchdown in the Falcons' 56-23 loss. (U.S. Air Force photo/Mike Kaplan)

Air Force senior running back Anthony LaCoste finds open space in the Wyoming defense during the Falcons-Cowboys game at Falcon Stadium Sept. 21, 2013. LaCoste accounted for 27 yards on nine carries and one touchdown in the Falcons' 56-23 defeat. (U.S. Air Force photo/Mike Kaplan)

Air Force senior running back Anthony LaCoste finds open space in the Wyoming defense during the Falcons-Cowboys game at Falcon Stadium Sept. 21, 2013. LaCoste accounted for 27 yards on nine carries and one touchdown in the Falcons' 56-23 defeat. (U.S. Air Force photo/Mike Kaplan)

Junior running back Jon Lee gets wrapped up by two Wyoming defenders during the Air Force-Wyoming game at Falcon Stadium Sept. 21, 2013. Lee had eight carries for 82 yards in the Falcons' 56-23 loss to the Cowboys. (U.S. Air Force photo/Sarah Chambers)

Junior running back Jon Lee gets wrapped up by two Wyoming defenders during the Air Force-Wyoming game at Falcon Stadium Sept. 21, 2013. Lee had eight carries for 82 yards in the Falcons' 56-23 loss to the Cowboys. (U.S. Air Force photo/Sarah Chambers)

U.S. AIR FORCE ACADEMY, Colo. -- Air Force fans knew it would be a long Saturday night at Falcon Stadium when Wyoming quarterback Brett Smith ran 74 yards on the Cowboys' first play from scrimmage.

Smith and the Cowboys ran away with the game in the second quarter, scoring four touchdowns en route to a 56-23 win -- the worst home loss since a 56-14 loss to California in 2004.

The Falcons took the lead twice in the first quarter. Quarterback Jaleel Awini led Air Force down the field on the first drive on the gain, capping it with a 33-yard touchdown run. The Falcons drove again after Wyoming's first touchdown, but a timeout called by head coach Troy Calhoun just before the snap negated a third down conversion and forced Air Force to settle for a 33-yard field goal by Will Conant.

The Cowboys rallied, scoring two touchdowns in the remainder of the first quarter and four more in the second build a 42-17 lead at the half. Not until the third quarter did the Air Force defense stop the Cowboys on third down, but by then, Wyoming had already put the game away.

Air Force's second-half adjustments would have kept them in the game if not for the lopsided second quarter: The Cowboys managed only two touchdowns in the second half to Air Force's one. But Calhoun noted the Falcons needed to play consistently through the entire game if they wanted to turn their season around.

"We've played good football teams, but it's an understatement to say we have to play much better," he said during a postgame interview after midnight on Sunday.

Awini looked good, running for 68 yards on nine carries and going 11-of-18 for 89 yards in the air. Karson Roberts, who came in to play in the fourth quarter, found Jalen Robinette in the end zone for a 38-yard touchdown strike. The Falcons totaled a healthy 346 rushing yards and 473 total yards on offense.

But as running back Jon Lee noted, "At the end of the day, it doesn't matter how many yards you have if you don't score." Lee had eight rushes for 82 yards.

The loss puts Air Force in a tough situation: 1-3 overall, 0-3 in the Mountain West. The schedule doesn't get much easier, with games coming up against Nevada, Navy, San Diego State, Notre Dame and Army. Lee said he's hopeful, however.

"One thing I know about my brothers: We're fighters," Lee said. "We're going to play the next game and take it one step at a time. Every day we're making progress; every day we're getting better and better."

But if the offense is maturing, Calhoun said, the defense is going to have to catch up -- and fast.

"Whether it's tighter coverage, whether it's blocking better ... we have some folks who are going to have to mature quickly," he said. "We need to get tighter."