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Air Force football: Falcons roll over San Jose State for third win

DJ Hammond III stepped into the game and steered the Falcons to their third win of the season.

NCAA Football: San Jose State at Air Force Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

DJ Hammond III began Friday night’s game on the sidelines, but finished it with fireworks.

Resting a sore ankle, Hammond made a delayed entry into the game, but then went on to throw for 131 yards and rush for 25 more as the Air Force Falcons rolled past the San Jose Spartans, 41-24 in Colorado Springs. Hammond threw a touchdown pass and steered the Falcons (3-1; 1-1 MWC) to five other scoring drives.

It was Air Force’s third straight win over the Spartans. At 3-1, the Falcons are off to their best start to a season since 2016, when they started 4-0 and finished 10-3.

Isaiah Sanders initially started the game under center, but an injury forced him to exit early on. Sanders had three rushes for 23 yards before leaving midway through Air Force’s first drive. Hammond came in to finish the drive, which ended in with a scamper for a touchdown by Timothy Jackson.

On Air Force’s third drive of the game, Hammond found Geraud Sanders for a 64-yard strike that ended with a score. Saunders finished the day with three catches for 108 yards.

Pacing the Falcons’ ground attack was Taven Birdow, who rushed for a career-high 124 yards and two scores on 25 touches. Christian Mallard ran for 70 yards and two touchdowns on 10 carries.

Air Force racked up 513 yards of total offense.

The Falcons defense was stout too, holding San Jose State to 0-for-4 on fourth down conversions. The Spartans were held to just 98 rushing yards and 6.7 yards per-attempt on 42 passes. Air Force also forced and recovered two San Jose State fumbles.

Jordan Jackson had a sack and two QB hurries, while Jesse Osuna recovered one of those fumbles and had 10 tackles for the Air Force defense.

The Falcons now have eight days to prepare for rival Navy. The Falcons are looking for back-to-back wins over the Mids for the first time since 2010-11. That game will be televised by CBS Sports Network.