Nwoke goes for 269 yards in another CSU loss

Sophomore Chris Nwoke ran roughshod over an opponent for the

second time this month and still walked off the field in

defeat.

”It is a good feeling to get the yardage. But it is

disappointing that we didn’t get the win,” Nwoke said after

running for a career-high 269 yards in Colorado State’s 45-21 loss

to Air Force on Saturday night.

Nwoke became the first Rams rusher to record a pair of 200-yard

games in the same season. He had 232 in a loss to San Diego State

on Nov. 12.

”I’ve learned patience, to wait for the offensive line to get

their blocks. I have become confident in what they do,” Nwoke

said. ”As you grow, the game is fast, and you see a hole and you

want to hit it. As you get more experience, you tend to start being

patient waiting for those holes and getting those big runs

out.”

Nwoke had a 62-yard touchdown run and a 2-yard TD scamper

against the Falcons.

”He was very impressive,” Rams coach Steve Fairchild said.

”You get 29 carries, which is the high end of what we are looking

at. But I think he was over 9 yards a carry. … We knew he had the

ability to run a little better.”

And now the Falcons do, too.

”He’s powerful, he’s hard to tackle, and there were a bunch of

times that he hit us,” Air Force coach Troy Calhoun said. ”And up

front they are really, really good. And there’s times they just

bounce you back just because their offensive line’s pretty darn

good, too.”

Calhoun said those beefy linemen were the reason the Falcons

started out slowly before getting on a roll a 31-point

second-quarter display to take a 31-7 halftime lead.

”As often happens with us, it’s just adjusting to the size of

the game,” Calhoun said. ”I don’t know how we do it, unless we

put cinder blocks in all of our scout team offensive linemen.

That’s just something that’s hard to rehearse for.”

Fueling that second-quarter outburst was Tim Jefferson’s three

TD throws to Zack Kauth that covered 33, 40 and 50 yards.

The Falcons (7-5, 3-4 Mountain West) were expected to have their

best season under Calhoun but a spate of injuries left them

battling for a bowl on their season finale instead. Their

resounding win marked the first time in the program’s history that

Air Force has won seven or more games in five straight seasons.

The Rams (3-8, 1-5) lost their seventh straight game overall and

their sixth in a row to the Falcons, despite Nwoke’s big night.

His 269 yards were the third-most ever by a Rams rusher behind

Tony Alford’s 310 yards at Utah in 1989 and Gartrell Johnson’s 285

against Fresno State in the New Mexico Bowl in 2008.

They also were the most yards ever by any player in the 227

games played at Hughes Stadium, which opened in 1968. The old mark

was held by Air Force’s Chad Hall, who gained 256 yards on Oct. 13,

2007.

After the Rams drove 87 yards for a score on their first

possession, they managed just 12 more yards before halftime and

entered the locker room down by 24 points thanks to Kauth’s TD

catches that covered 123 yards.

Air Force tied it on the first play of the second quarter when

Kauth raced past cornerback Shaq Bell and hauled in a 33-yard TD

throw from Jefferson.

Kauth slipped past cornerback Momo Thomas and hauled in

Jefferson’s 40-yard touchdown toss in stride to put Air Force ahead

for good, and he beat Thomas again on his 50-yarder that made it

24-7.

”I wouldn’t say blown coverage,” Rams safety Ivory Herd said.

”It was more miscommunication. We dropped back. We just didn’t

cover the right person.”

Things weren’t much better on offense for the Rams. Grayson, a

freshman subbing for injured starter Pete Thomas (knee), threw an

interception in the end zone, lost two fumbles and was sacked four

times.

The only thing the Rams had going was Nwoke’s runs.

”Nwoke was carrying us,” Grayson said. ”He was carrying it up

the middle and that was our game plan going into this. We knew that

we could run it on them. We knew that on run defense, they were

going to give us a bunch of exotic blitzes. We pounded it early,

but got away from it in the second quarter, and things got out of

hand.”

The Rams host Wyoming next week in their quest to end their long

losing skid dating to a 35-34 win at Utah State on Sept. 24. Coach

Steve Fairchild has a year and $750,000 left on his contract and

athletic director Paul Kowalczyk reiterated Saturday that he’ll

review his head football coach’s status after the season.

Kowalczyk told The Associated Press that the NCAA’s

recommendation for $2,000 annual stipends for student athletes

beginning in the next academic year would cost CSU about $300,000

in scholarship boosts but that would have no effect on his decision

whether or not to stick with Fairchild.

Connect with AP Sports Writer Arnie Melendrez Stapleton on

Twitter: http://twitter.com/arniestapleton