Air Force 63, Tennessee St. 24
Tennessee State was ready for the Air Force running game, it
just couldn’t stop it.
Tim Jefferson threw for a career-high three touchdowns and the
Falcons piled up a school record 792 yards of offense – 595 on the
ground – in a 63-24 rout of the Tigers on Saturday.
A week after giving up 58 points to Murray State, the Tigers
tied the school record for most points allowed against Air
”It’s tough but at the same time we’ve got to get over it,”
linebacker John Jones said. ”It hurt.”
The young Tigers had a size advantage but struggled with the
Falcons’ quickness and the altitude. Tigers coach Rod Reed brought
the Tigers to town a day early in hopes of getting them acclimated
to Falcon Stadium’s 6,620-foot elevation, but they were gasping for
breath chasing the Falcons’ ball carriers.
”This was a game we knew would be tough for us, especially
coming from Tennessee to this altitude,” coach Rd Reed said. ”We
had guys coming out on the first series who couldn’t breathe.”
Air Force (2-1) capitalized, scoring on its first two
possessions to go up 14-0. The Tigers responded when Air Force
defensive back Anthony Wooding Jr. allowed Calvin McNairl to blow
past him and haul in an 80-yard touchdown catch from Mike German in
the first quarter.
”That was a big play,” McNairl said. ”That got us going a
The lower division Tigers had a chance to tie the game after a
big defensive play when Falcons running back Anthony LaCoste was
stripped a foot before crossing the goal line on a 22-yard run in
the second quarter.
Jones ripped the ball from LaCoste’s arms just before he strode
into the end zone. The play was originally ruled a TD but reversed
to a touchback on automatic review.
”If the offense would have come through after that it would
have been a different ballgame,” Jones said.
The Falcons, however, forced a three-and-out, Jon Davis returned
the punt 19 yards to midfield. Three plays later, Mikel Hunter made
a leaping catch of Jefferson’s 34-yard TD pass that made it 21-7,
and the rout was on.
”It was a matter of execution,” Reed said. ”We knew we had
our work cut out for us and we knew we needed to control the clock
a little bit more, which we didn’t do in the first half to keep the
defense off the field.”
About the only time the Tigers held up after that was when Lamar
Wallace recovered DeWitt’s fumble at the Tennessee State 5.
”They were really sucking wind on defense and we left them off
the hook twice,” Jefferson said of the Falcons’ fumbles.
Jefferson (13 for 15 for 178 yards) threw another 34-yard
scoring strike, Asher Clark scored on a 7-yard run, Mike DeWitt
took it in from 4 yards out and Wes Cobb added a 2-yard TD run for
the Falcons, who led 35-10 at halftime.
The Falcons punted just once and scored nine touchdowns on 13
possessions. They were on the sideline cheering when freshman
Jonathan Lee scampered into the end zone from 49 yards out on his
first collegiate carry, which made it 63-17.
”At least we didn’t get beat up as bad as we thought,” Reed
Tennessee State, which also was looking for a game this weekend
after a matchup in the Atlanta Football Classic against Florida
A&M had fallen through, accepted a $370,000 guarantee from Air
”It’s something we have to look into in the future whether we
want to take a game like this,” Reed said. ”It’s really hard on
the kids and you know it’s hard on their spirits when you give up a
lot of yardage like that.”
The Tigers came in yielding just 84.6 yards on the ground – but
that was a byproduct of their poor pass defense. They had
surrendered a dozen TD passes coming into the game.