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Takeaways: Air Force smothers Utah State to finish its MWC slate with a win

The Falcons controlled both sides of the ball on the way to a 35-7 thumping of the Aggies on Thursday night.

Utah State v Air Force Kent Nishimura/Colorado Springs Gazette/Tribune News Service via Getty Images

I’m not going to lie — I wasn’t sure if we would be sitting here discussing Air Force’s last Mountain West game of the season or not. In a season packed with cancellations and delays, it was easy to expect more of the same leading up to Thursday night. However, the two teams proved me wrong in the very best of ways.

If you turned off Thursday night’s contest between Air Force and Utah State after the first eight minutes, you’d be forgiven for thinking that the Aggies were on their way to a blowout.

Andrew Peasley and the offense looked nearly unstoppable, churning out yards on the ground and throwing to convert as needed. The Aggies first drive lasted an Air Force-esque 8 minutes and 4 seconds, resulting in a four-yard touchdown pass from Peasley to Jordan Nathan.

Air Force is usually the team delivering those long, slow drives, so how would the Falcons answer?

The answer is through the air. That’s right, Haaziq Daniels showed why he’s the Air Force quarterback, connecting with Jake Spiewak and Daniel Morris three separate times on the first drive.

Despite the newly developed air attack, Kadin Remsberg — back from injury — finished the drive with a 21-yard scamper into the end zone, tying things at 7 apiece. It would prove to be all Air Force from there.

As Air Force kicked off for the next series, it was easy to worry that the Falcons defense just wasn’t ready for the brisk Logan, Utah night. Instead, they stymied the Aggies after just 13 yards and the Falcons took over after a 42-yard punt.

Haaziq and the crew took the field facing an 82-yard stretch to the end zone, and it took just three minutes to find pay dirt. Daniels passed the ball three more times on the second drive, completing a 49-yard bomb to Ben Peterson for the score. That’s right, an Air Force passing touchdown put the Falcons back in the lead for good.

Air Force wrangled Utah State into yet another punting situation the next time out, and the Falcons got the ball back with just 99 yards to go. This time, Air Force kept the ball on the ground the entire way down the field, and Daniels capped things off with a 37-yard run of his own to increase the gap to 21-7.

As the first half ticked away, Andrew Peasley made a desperation heave towards the end zone, right into the waiting arms of the Falcons’ Demani Hansford.

If you remember the last game against New Mexico, Air Force found itself in a spot of trouble coming out of the locker room. Even though it didn’t fall victim to three fumbles this week, the first drive of the second half proved disastrous. The Falcons lost 15 yards in three plays and had to punt to just past midfield.

It all proved to be for naught however, as Utah State struggled throughout the contest and Air Force scored on its next two drives. In fact, the Falcons 71-yard drive was their shortest of the night. Matt Murla and Brad Roberts contributed the final two scores of the night and Tevye Schuettpelz-Rohl stayed perfect on his extra point attempts for the night.

By the time the clock reached triple-zeroes, Haaziq Daniels had passed for 127 yards on seven completions and he added 47 additional yards on the ground. Kadin Remsberg and Brad Roberts led the way on the ground, with Remsberg eclipsing 100 yards and each player adding a score.

Ethan Erickson and Matthew Malloy led the way on defense, and Malloy added an interception on top of his 6 total tackles.

Andrew Peasley reached 123 yards through the air for the Aggies, along with two picks and a score. He was also Utah State’s leading rusher with just 53 yards.

Apparently, the Falcons also managed to secure the mysterious Utah monolith, they must have been busy at halftime...

Takeaways:

Good, clean fun

Air Force struggled with fumbles two weeks ago against the Lobos — putting three in a row on the turf to open the second half. This week, you couldn’t get the ball off the Falcons if you tried. Outside of an errant snap, there wasn’t an error to be found, and only two of Daniels’ passes hit the ground.

Perfectly balanced, as all things should be

What’s better than an Air Force team that can run all over the opponent? An Air Force team that can out-pass the foe as well. That’s exactly what we got from the Falcons this week as they topped the Aggies through the air 127-yards to 123-yards. They also tripled Utah State on the ground with 334 yards compared to just 109 for Andrew Peasley and Elelyon Noa.

Putting Army on notice

It’s essential to focus on this week’s opponent, and only this week’s opponent, but sometimes you have to send a message. Air Force has a Commander-in-Chief’s showdown against Army in two weeks, and a strong offensive showing is certainly one way to put the Black Knights on notice. The Falcons showed no fear in launching the ball through the air, and scoring drives longer that 70 yards proved to be no problem.

No matter what happens next week at Army-Navy, the Commander-in-Chief’s trophy will be won or lost at West Point on Dec. 19. So, stay tuned.