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For those unable to watch the game on Saturday, The Mtn. has the highlights for you:
San Diego, CA (Sports Network) - True freshman Ronnie Hillman carried 24 times for 191 yards and two touchdowns and San Diego State was aided by the use of instant replay in a 27-25 win over 23rd-ranked Air Force.
Ryan Lindley connected on 14-of-26 throws for 247 yards and a touchdown for the Aztecs (4-2, 1-1 MWC), who defeated a ranked team for the first time since 1996.
Tim Jefferson completed 13-of-30 throws for 175 yards and a score, and was intercepted once, and ran for 88 yards while Asher Clark carried 19 times for 116 yards and a score the Falcons (5-2, 3-1), who had a three-game win streak snapped.
Too little too late for Air Force as they drive down the field in 1:42 to score on a touchdown pass by Tim Jefferson to get the Falcons within two points. The Falcons went for the onside kick which the Aztecs ended up recovering.
Air Force had to attempt an onside kick since they were down two points with 2:23 left in the game. The Falcons did not recover the onside kick, and with San Diego State going to run the clock by running the ball Ronnie Hillman broke free and scored on a 44 yard touchdown run to give the Aztecs their first win over a ranked team since 1996 when they beat a top 20 Wyoming team.
Hillman ends the night with 191 yards and two touchdowns.
With the game on the line Air Force drove down the field in their typical offensive fashion and scored a touchdown on a 14 play drive. The drama came when Air Force had to go for two to tie the game, and at first it was ruled a score, but the play went to the booth and play was over turned. Asher's Clark knee was down just inside the one which put Air Force down two.
Had Air Force kicked the extra point earlier in the game going for two would have been a mute point, but instead they needed the two point conversion.
San Diego State answered Air Force's first touchdown with a field goal of their own. A 13 play drive ended in a 27 yard field goal. Ronnie Hillman lead the way with 24 yards on the drive to give him 145 yards on the night.
Air Force finally gets into the endzone by Asher Clark who broke away for the 20 yard scamper. The drive almost stalled when the Falcons were faced on a 4th and one at the Aztec 37 yard line, and then quarterback Tim Jefferson ran for a six yard keeper to keep the drive alive.
On this drive Asher Clark ran for 43 of the drives 77 yards; all of which were gained on the ground. The two point conversion attempt by Asher Clark was not successful, so the Falcons still trail San Diego State 17-12.
The Aztecs scored a touchdown on their second drive of the third quarter. They went nine plays and traveled 65 yards while scoring on an eight yard touchdown pass to Gavin Escobar. The set up for the score was two 30 plus yards passes to the Aztecs top leading receivers in Vincent Brown and DeMarco Sampson.
Even though this is a low scoring game the game is not lacking in excitement or offense. Air Force had two early chances to put points on the board but they missed a field goal and Tim Jefferson threw a pick deep in Aztec territory.
The stat of the game is time of possession where Air Force held the ball for 20 minutes while San Diego State had the ball for just under ten minutes. Both offenses are performing well with Air Force having a slight lead in total yards.
Air Force has thrown 14 passes which is a lot for them even in a full game, and that it is two more times then the pass happy Aztec offense, and they have more passing yards then San Diego State.
The second half the Falcons need to capitalize on their drives and start getting touchdowns instead of field goals, because San Diego State can strike very quickly.
The half was nearing, but the fast pace Aztec offense started at their own 25 drove down the field in only 40 seconds to kick a 27 yard field goal to extend their lead 10-6 going into the half. Ryan Lindley led the way with two passes for 52 yards and Ronnie Hillman helped out with a 22 yard run.
Air Force's Tim Jefferson decided to take over the latest drive for the Falcons by rushing for 37 yards and completed one pass for 22 yards. He had 59 of the 64 total yards on the nine play drive, however the San Diego State defense manned up and forced the Falcons to kick a 30 yard field goal. The Falcons still trail 7-6 with the half nearing to a close.
After falling down 7-0, Air Force responded with an 11-play, 62-yard drive and kicking a 26-yard field goal to cut the Aztec lead to 7-3.
Super freshman running back Ronnie Hillman put the Aztecs on top of Air Force 7-0 with a 65-yard touchdown run. Hillman surpassed the 100-yard mark midway through the second quarter and has 101 yards on only nine carries so far.
Air Force had two long drives in the first quarter that ended in no points. The first was a six play 23-yard drive that ended in Tim Jefferson throwing an interception while on the Aztec 37 yard line. The next drive was a 10-play 51 yard drive, but the Falcons missed a long 46-yard field goal. So, the game is still scoreless heading into the second quarter.
The big deal about this Saturday's game against Air Force and San Diego State is that the two offense are polar opposites. The Falcons run an old-school triple option attack that is highly effective, while the Aztecs sling the ball around the field with three to five wide receiver sets.
Aztec defensive coordinator and form New Mexico head coach, Rocky Long posted a 5-6 record as a head coach against the Falcons, and mentions how much more versatile the Falcon offense is:
"They are so much more multiple than they used to be," Long said. "They'll do it out of shotgun, under center, I-formation, triple-I, two wings.
"You can line up a certain way that makes the numbers equal with the offense, but you are going to have to execute as well. There are still going to be a lot of open-field and one-on-one tackle opportunities. It's one thing to pursue, but you are going to have to tackle."
The first key matchup in this game is the Air Force offensive line against the Aztec defensive line and linebackers. The Aztecs are third in the Mountain West in rushing yards allowed, however last week against BYU they gave up a season high 271 yards which was over double of their previous high. Prior to that game BYU was averaging only 119 yards on the ground. The Aztecs will need to play disciplined football and play their assignments to be avoid from getting burned on big runs.
The next key matchup is two fold: first the Aztec passing attack against the Falcon secondary, and the second being wide receiver Vincent Brown against defensive back Reggie Rembert. Both players are all-conference players, and should be an exciting matchup to watch:
Rembert: "He has great hands, speed, he runs great routes, he'll go up and get some balls. He's just a playmaker. He's just a great receiver. You've got to have confidence, that's the main thing."
Brown: "He's very, very talented at his position. He brings a lot of intelligence. He's well coached. He understands his position. The challenge that comes up from him is he knows how to read an offense. When we're running routes, he knows how to man up on you."
On the season Rembert has two interceptions and one recovered fumble. While Brown leads the Mountain West in receptions (26), yards per game (86.6). second in touchdowns (3), and fifth in yards per catch (16.65).
San Diego State has another very good receiver in DeMarco Sampson who is more of a deep threat then Brown, but the two receivers are one and two in the Mountain West for yards on the season. Air Force has a second playmaker as well in the secondary with Anthony Wright Jr. who is an all-conference safety.
One other key to the game is time of possession. If Air Force runs their offense smoothly they will control the clock, but that may not ultimately hurt the Aztec. In San Diego State's loss last week they held the ball for only 14:59 of the 60 minutes and still came up only three points short of winning that game.
Those are the three key matchups in Saturday's game, but the difference will ultimately come down to which team's defense can slow down or stop the other teams offense.
(Sports Network) Sporting the most wins in Mountain West Conference play thus far in 2010, the 23rd-ranked Air Force Falcons shoot for league win number four this weekend when they visit the San Diego State Aztecs at Qualcomm Stadium.
TCU and Utah may be ranked higher than the Falcons in the latest AP poll, but the truth is the academy has three MWC victories already, compared to just two apiece for the Horned Frogs and Utes. The Mountain West has the fifth most members ranked in the top-25 this week, ahead of conferences like the ACC and Big East which both sport just one team at the moment.
Air Force head coach Troy Calhoun guided his squad to a convincing 49-27 win over in-state and conference rival Colorado State last weekend at home. The win was the third straight for the Falcons, but at the same time the 27 points allowed tied for the most surrendered by the squad this year, matching the production by nationally-ranked Oklahoma on the road in the middle of September. Even with the three-point setback to the Sooners, Air Force is off to its best start since 2003.
As for the Aztecs, they appeared to be much stronger than BYU on paper heading into last week's encounter, but the offense for San Diego State took a step back and that allowed the Cougars to capture the 24-21 victory in Provo in the Mountain West opener for SDSU. The loss was the second in the last three games for the Aztecs, who just a few weeks ago blitzed Utah State in a 41-7 final at home.
"We didn't execute, we didn't stop the run and we didn't tackle," SDSU head coach Brady Hoke said after the defeat. "I think in the first 18 minutes of the game we pushed too hard to make something happen and we didn't wait for the game to come to us. When you do that you get beat."
Air Force won the most recent meeting between the programs a year ago with a 26-14 decision, lifting the academy to a 19-9 advantage in the all-time series versus San Diego State. The Falcons, who have won three in a row over SDSU, did not score a single offensive touchdown in last year's meeting.
The top-ranked rushing attack took on a bit of a different look on Saturday when the Falcons hit the field against Colorado State, as quarterback Tim Jefferson turned a mere five completed passes into 160 yards and two touchdowns in the victory over the in-state rival. The same goes for Ben Cochran who threw just a single pass, yet it went complete for a TD as well for the Falcons as they poured it on against the Rams.
Reeling in the two TD passes from Jefferson was Zach Kauth who finished with three catches for 85 yards in the victory.
"We were hitting on cylinders the first quarter, first quarter and a half," Kauth recognized after the game. "Gotta keep it up going throughout the season, can't let down anymore."
Asher Clark led the ground attack with 125 yards and a score on 17 carries, hitting the holes created for him by teammates. During the contest Clark also went over the 2,000-yard mark for his career.
But it wasn't all offense for the Falcons, as senior defensive back Reggie Rembert posted a season-high seven tackles, picked off a pass, broke up three attempts and recovered a fumble on his way to being named the MWC Defensive Player of the Week.
"Pretty much, I just try to be around the ball, if it is on the other side of the field I'm going to try and make the tackle, I don't care where it is," Rembert said of his efforts. "It's always about hustle, I'm a small guy so I gotta always do something extra."
Despite being a bit slight in stature compared to the rest of the league's players, the Falcons are still a force to be reckoned with when it comes to pass defense. The unit is currently second in the conference and seventh in the nation with just 149.3 ypg allowed. In terms of pass efficiency defense, no one is better than Air Force in the MWC and there are only seven teams in the Football Bowl Subdivision that have a rating better than 100.31 at the moment.
But make no mistake, even though Jefferson and the passing offense has shown signs of life, this squad lives by running the triple option and averaging 352.7 ypg.
Working against the Falcons this time around is a San Diego State run defense that is third in the Mountain West and 42nd in the country with 133.6 ypg allowed. However, it must be noted that the unit's top performance this season came against Nicholls State in the opener and the second-best effort was posted versus Missouri, a program that doesn't run the ball much at all to begin with.
From an offensive perspective, SDSU quarterback Ryan Lindley is someone who can do some damage, yet last week he couldn't quite get his team over the hump as he threw for 220 yards and three touchdowns in the loss to BYU. Vincent Brown stepped up with six catches for 101 yards and a score, but the squad had virtually no running game with Ronnie Hillman posting only 62 yards on 11 attempts.
Hillman, the leading rusher in the MWC with 118.8 ypg through five outings, is averaging better than six yards per carry and has scored a total of eight TDs on the ground so there is certainly potential there for him to explode when the situation is right. Lindley has three times as many touchdowns (nine) as he does interceptions, but his 55.3 percent accuracy is not quite up to snuff for a squad that has leaned so heavily on the pass to this point. The good thing is that Lindley has remained upright much of the time while the offensive line ranks second in the MWC and fifth in the nation with just 0.40 sacks allowed per outing.
Pressure at the line of scrimmage will be critical for the Aztecs this weekend if they hope to slow down the Air Force running game. Averaging eight tackles for loss per game, tops in the MWC and 10th in the nation, certainly bodes well for SDSU, but when you consider that nearly one-third (12) of their total TFLs (40) this season came against Nicholls State in the opener, that stat might be a bit misleading.
Lindley needs to keep the Aztecs competitive in this meeting, otherwise the academy will eat up the clock as they routinely do and force San Diego State into making moves the home team might not want to try.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Air Force 38, San Diego State 21