'Aggie-ny of Defeat': Utah State thumps Air Force, 52-20

Air Force junior running back Broam Hart, looks for a hole in the Utah State defense during the Falcons' game against the Aggies at Falcon Stadium Sept. 7, 2013. Hart had seven rushes for 24 yards in Air Force's 52-20 loss. (U.S. Air Force photo/Raymond McCoy)

Air Force junior running back Broam Hart, looks for a hole in the Utah State defense during the Falcons' game against the Aggies at Falcon Stadium Sept. 7, 2013. Hart had seven rushes for 24 yards in Air Force's 52-20 loss. (U.S. Air Force photo/Raymond McCoy)

U.S. AIR FORCE ACADEMY, Colo. -- Utah State used a 28-0 third quarter to give Air Force its worst thumping in seven seasons under coach Troy Calhoun, 52-20, at Falcon Stadium Sept. 7.

A stingy Aggie defense and clumsy Air Force offense combined to hand the Falcons, who are playing without starting quarterback Kyle Pearson, their first loss on the season.

"I think we got thumped in every way possible in this game," Calhoun said. "In the first half, we had a chance to make some plays that we didn't make."

Utah State took the lead on the first possession with a 30-yard touchdown pass from Aggie quarterback Chuckie Keeton to Travis Van Leeuwen and never looked back. An Air Force fumble gave the Aggies another scoring opportunity, which they used to take a 14-0 lead before the Falcons got on the scoreboard with a pair of Will Conant field goals.

The Aggie defense limited the Falcons to only 100 yards of rushing and 152 yards of total offense at halftime, requiring heavy halftime adjustments for the Falcons to pull out of a 24-13 hole. But the halftime break did nothing for the Falcons, and everything for the Aggies.

"You couldn't have two teams that are further apart in those first 20 minutes of the second half," said Calhoun. "You look at the first four series in the second half, and they scored four straight times, and we didn't get one touchdown in that time."

Those four Aggie scores put the Falcons down 45-13 at the end of the third quarter, to seal the win and make the time left on the clock just a formality.

For the Falcons, backup quarterback Karson Roberts received extensive playing time, taking over for Jaleel Awini late in the third quarter.

Backup players on both sides got playing time. Roberts hit freshman wide receiver Jalen Robinette on the left edge for a 37-yard touchdown. Conant followed through with the point after to make the score 52-20.

In the final battle damage assessment, the Utah State defense limited the Falcons offense to a total of 270 yards. Eleven different Falcons ran the ball for 49 carries but totaled only 162 yards. The Falcons passing attack, which included the debut of freshman Nate Romine as the third Falcon quarterback of the date, was only 6-of-18 passing for 108 yards and two touchdowns.

"We have got some work to do," admitted Calhoun. "We have a bunch of work to do."

The loss drops the Air Force Academy to 1-1 on the season. The Falcons have a short week ahead of them, as they must prepare and hit the road for a Friday the 13th game against the 1-1 Boise State Broncos. Kickoff is 6 p.m., and the game will be televised on ESPN. Falcon football fanatics can catch all the action on the radio on KVOR 740 AM in Colorado Springs and The Fan 104.3 FM in Denver, or follow the action on the web via Gameday Central at http://www.goairforcefalcons.com/gameday/afa-13-gameday.html.