No. 19 Air Force beats Colorado State, improves to 8-0

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Emmanuel Michel rushed for 130 yards and a clinching touchdown Saturday as No. 19 Air Force improved to 8-0 with a 30-13 Mountain West win over Colorado State in Fort Collins, Colo.

Michel’s 5-yard scoring run with 8:51 left in the game helped the Falcons up their Mountain West record to 5-0 and enabled them to take another step towards the league’s championship game, as well as a possible Group of Five berth in a New Year’s Day bowl game.

Air Force relied on its staples – the running game, good defense and discipline – in snowy, 26-degree weather. The Falcons outrushed the Rams (3-5, 1-3) 259-42 and committed only two penalties for 15 yards.

Air Force quarterback Zac Larrier had a modest statistical game, completing 4 of 7 passes for 32 yards with a touchdown and rushing for 34 yards on 13 attempts. But his 1-yard scoring run with 8:58 left in the third quarter put the Falcons ahead for good at 20-13.

Colorado State quarterback Brayden Fowler-Nicolosi hit 28 of 45 passes for 297 yards with a touchdown but couldn’t get his team on the board in the second half. Justus Ross-Simmons caught eight passes for 128 yards and one score.

Air Force opened scoring by playing classic complementary football. After stopping Fowler-Nicolosi for no gain on a fourth-and-one run at the Falcons’ 46-yard line, it drove 54 yards and found the end zone on Larrier’s 9-yard pass to Drew Kinamon with 5:03 left in the first quarter.

Fowler-Nicolosi pulled Colorado State even just 22 seconds into the second period, teaming with Ross-Simmons for a 61-yard touchdown pass. The Rams took the lead on their next possession when Jordan Noyes connected on a 40-yard field goal at the 7:15 mark.

Air Force regained a 13-10 edge on a 10-yard scoring run by John Lee Eldridge III, three plays after Fowler-Nicolosi was strip-sacked inside his team’s 20. But Noyes drilled a 49-yard field goal with 45 seconds remaining to forge a 13-13 tie at halftime.