Jerilee Bennett/The Gazette
AIR FORCE ACADEMY – Despite a 42-21 win over in-state rival Colorado State, Air Force was focusing on ways it can improve for future Saturday afternoons.
Cody Getz had 222 of Air Force’s 459 yards rushing to lead the Falcons (2-2, 1-1 Mountain West) to their seventh consecutive defeat of the Rams (1-4, 0-1). Getz’s career-high mark made him the first player in Air Force history to begin a season with four consecutive 100-yard rushing games and the first with two 200-yard games in the same season since Chad Hall in 2007.
“It’s a cool feeling (to win), but I’ve still got those two fumbles on my mind,” said Getz, who lost the football in the second and third quarters. “The yards don’t mean anything. I’m just glad we got the W.”
Getz is among the nation’s rushing leaders with 683 yards this season. The last Falcons player to hit the century mark in four consecutive games was Beau Morgan in 1996.
Connor Dietz threw two touchdowns for Air Force, the nation’s No. 2 rushing team entering the game. Five players scored for the Falcons, with Ty MacArthur finding the end zone twice.
The victory helped ease the pain of a 38-35 loss at UNLV last week in which the Falcons led 28-17 at the half.
“None of us could sleep Saturday, Sunday and Monday of last week,” Dietz said. “Every player on the team felt terrible. So it’s good to get that bad taste out of our mouths.”
Falcons coach Troy Calhoun knows his team can play even better.
“We’ve got to do a much better job handling the ball,” Calhoun said. “I thought we gained some confidence (Saturday) on defense. Hopefully (Saturday our guys) realized - and they should - that we do have a capable squad.”
Air Force linebacker Alex Means, who had six tackles, has confidence in his defense, one that entered the game giving up 30 points and 434 yards per game.
“I promise you this is a great defense,” Means said. “The whole world knocks on our D, and we’re not happy about that. We’ve just got to keep improving, and we have the guys to do it.”
Air Force had a handful of other scoring chances, but Getz fumbled at the Rams’ 5-yard line in the third quarter and kicker Parker Herrington missed a 31-yard field-goal attempt in the fourth.
The Rams drove into Air Force territory on their opening drive of the second half, but M.J. McPeek was intercepted by Anthony LaCoste at the Falcons 23-yard-line, and he returned it 47 yards to the Colorado State 30. Two personal foul penalties gave Air Force a first down at the 7, but Getz fumbled on the next play.
CSU then went on a 12-play, 95-yard scoring drive that culminated with Kivon Cartwright recovering a Tommey Morris fumble in the end zone. That cut the lead to 35-21, but it was as close as the Rams would get.
“This is as low as I’ve been,” CSU coach Jim McElwain said. “I know we’ve got guys in the locker room who have heart, and we’ll find out this week who is ready and willing to be a champion and who isn’t. We need to get back on the road for another conference game next weekend, regroup and see if we can bounce back.”
McPeek threw for 292 yards and two touchdowns for Colorado State after coming on in relief of starting quarterback Garrett Grayson, who left the game with an injured left shoulder late in the first quarter.
McPeek’s first pass was a 55-yard touchdown to Lou Greenwood that put the Rams on the board. McPeek directed touchdowns on three of his first seven possessions as CSU finished with 441 yards of offense.
Air Force’s seven-game winning streak over Colorado State matches the longest in the series’ history, with the Falcons also taking seven in a row from 1983-89.
Air Force will begin its defense of the Commander in Chief trophy next Saturday at home against Navy.
“You don’t want to look past any opponent, but we’ve been thinking about Navy for a while,” Dietz said. “I mean, it’s Navy.”