Wolf Pack falls on road to Air Force
AP Sports Writer
AIR FORCE ACADEMY, Colo. (AP) – Senior Wes Cobb ran for a career-high 152 yards and a touchdown on 30 carries in place of injured Cody Getz and Air Force stymied Stefphon Jefferson in a 48-31 victory over Nevada on Friday night in the first meeting between the schools.
The Falcons (5-3, 4-1 Mountain West) snapped a four-game road winning streak by the Wolf Pack (6-3, 3-2) and held Jefferson to 93 yards – 63 below his nation-leading average – six days after surrendering a conference-record 338 yards to New Mexico’s Kasey Carrier.
Jefferson came in as the nation’s top rusher by a whopping 17 yards per game, but it was the Falcons running wild on this bitterly cold night, rushing for 461 yards, including 96 by Jon Lee, 76 by Ty MacArthur and 68 by quarterback Connor Dietz, who scored on a 1-yard run and also threw two long touchdown passes while going 6 for 7 for 139 yards.
The Falcons limited Johnson to 22 yards on nine first-half carries and took a 31-21 lead into the locker room after scoring on five of their six drives.
They turned the ball over on their first possession of the second half and Johnson made them pay with a 21-yard TD run following linebacker Dray Bell’s recovery of Jon Lee’s fumble at midfield.
Cobb, who topped his old career high of 83 yards set last year against Colorado State, restored the Falcons’ 10-point cushion with a 1-yard TD run.
The Wolf Pack had to settle for Allen Hardison’s short field goal after its drive stalled inside the Air Force 10, and his 26-yarder on the first snap of the fourth quarter made it 38-31.
Dietz’s 1-yard keeper gave the Falcons a two-TD cushion, their largest of the game, with 9 1/2 minutes left.
Nevada defensive back Duke Williams made two big plays that had the Falcons on their heels in the opening minutes.
First, he tackled Dietz for a 19-yard loss after a high snap, forcing the Falcons to try a 45-yard field goal. Parker Herrington, just 1 for 6 coming in, converted the attempt, matching his career long with his first field goal since Sept. 8 at Michigan.
Williams recovered Dietz’ fumble at the Air Force 35 on the ensuing series, and Cody Fajardo’s 1-yard keeper gave the Wolf Pack a 7-3 lead.
The Falcons responded by scoring touchdowns on their next four possessions.
Mike DeWitt ran it in from 8 yards out, Dietz hit Dontae Strickland with a 46-yard TD toss and Marcus Hendricks from 29 yards out and Strickland added a 12-yard TD run.
Nevada, the only team in the nation averaging more than 260 yards both passing and rushing, couldn’t keep up with the efficient Falcons.
The Falcons took control early in the second quarter on a perfect play-action pass. After running the ball on 25 of their first 27 snaps, the Falcons went to the air. Dietz faked a handoff while Strickland slipped behind three defensive backs to haul in the 46-yard touchdown pass that put Air Force ahead 17-7.
That capped a 95-yard drive in which the Falcons ran the ball seven times before Dietz’s TD throw.
Fajardo scored on a 3-yard keeper and threw a 14-yard TD Aaron Bradley just as he was getting hit, but after Hendricks’ hauled in his 29-yard scoring pass with 56 seconds left in the first half, the Wolf Pack couldn’t answer.
Fajardo quickly drove Nevada into Air Force territory but after hitting 10 of his first 13 passes, he threw four incompletions from the 40-yard line to end the first half.
Nevada’s other two losses were both by a point, including 39-38 to San Diego State in overtime last weekend.
Follow AP Pro Football Writer Arnie Melendrez Stapleton on Twitter: http://twitter.com/arniestapleton