Air Force rolls to 72-0 win over Nicholls State
AIR FORCE ACADEMY, Colo. (AP)—When Nicholls State installed its option offense a few year back, the Colonels turned to Air Force for pointers.
The Falcons obliged, even sending assistant coaches to Thibodaux, La., to give a hands-on tutorial.
On Saturday, the Colonels witnessed the option operating on all cylinders. It was another Air Force clinic.
Jared Tew scored three touchdowns and Tim Jefferson accounted for three more as the Falcons rolled to the largest margin of victory in school history in a 72-0 rout.
The Falcons (1-0) piled up 576 yards of total offense as they improved to 14-0 against Football Championship Subdivision schools.
“Like a machine,” Nicholls State coach Jay Thomas said. “Impressive. We’ve got to get ours to where it’s more like a machine.”
The 72 points was three shy of the school’s all-time single-game scoring mark set in 1984 against Northern Colorado. The margin of victory eclipsed the 69-point record set against Colorado State in 1963.
So efficient were the Falcons, their starters were on the bench for the second half. Air Force gained 299 yards of offense before halftime as the team piled up 45 points, tying a school mark for a half.
And yet coach Troy Calhoun wasn’t completely satisfied.
“There are certainly some concerns, more than a few,” Calhoun said.
“I think any time you have seven penalties, that’s definitely something you need to work on,” he said.
Outside of that, the Falcons didn’t have many blemishes in winning the opener for a third straight season under Calhoun.
Asher Clark finished with 66 yards rushing and Tew added 57, including touchdown runs of 3, 8 and 5 yards.
Jefferson tallied a pair of 1-yard touchdowns and threw for another, connecting with receiver Kevin Fogler late in the second quarter for a 57-yard touchdown score.
“If I had to give a word, I’d say decent,” Jefferson said of his performance. “I’d never say I played great.”
For Jefferson, this day almost didn’t arrive.
The sophomore had to skip most of the spring workouts to hit the books and avoid academic ineligibility. He got his grades in order and won the starting quarterback job over Clark in camp, leading to Clark’s move to tailback.
Now, Jefferson and Clark are forming a nice backfield tandem.
“That’s the thing that’s most glaring: when those two guys are on the field, it helps us,” Calhoun said.
The Colonels (0-1) managed just seven first downs in the game, their first coming on a fake punt from their own 4-yard line early in the first quarter. They almost had as many penalty yards (52) as total yards (59) in the first 30 minutes.
The team also turned the ball over four times, leading to 24 points by the Falcons.
Nicholls State tried to avoid the shutout late in the fourth quarter, but kicker Ross Schexnayder’s 47-yard field goal attempt was just wide.
It was the most points Nicholls State has allowed since the Colonels began playing football in 1972.
“We’re not going to point fingers,” Thomas said. “I’m the head coach, so I’m going to take the blame for it. It starts at the top. We all looked at each other in the eyes, and we made the commitment that we’re going to get it better.”
AFA backup quarterback Connor Dietz was effective in leading the team in the second half. He finished with 83 yards rushing. Nathan Walker, Darius Jones and Drew Coleman added second-half touchdown runs, while John Lerch scooped up a fumble for a 10-yard touchdown.
Nicholls State went with a platoon between redshirt freshmen LaQuintin Caston and Jake Witt at quarterback. Caston finished with 2 yards rushing, while Witt had 23.
Antonio Robinson, the Colonels’ top playmaker, was bottled up most of the afternoon. He caught four late passes for 32 yards.
For the Colonels, it’s back to the drawing board—especially realizing there’s another level to the option.
“They didn’t miss a beat and looked like they were in end-of-the-season form today,” Thomas said of Air Force. “They were very efficient.”