Colorado Springs • Not four minutes had ticked off the clock before the Aggies took a two-touchdown lead. But turnovers and penalties allowed Air Force to narrow the gap as Utah State led 24-13 after the first half in the program’s first Mountain West conference game.
The Aggies were explosive early, scoring their first touchdown on a 30-yard pass from Chuckie Keeton to Travis Van Leeuwen. An Air Force fumble on its first offensive snap set up another touchdown drive capped by a Joe Hill run.
But after going up 14-0 in 3:43, Utah State slowly allowed the Falcons back in the game. Sophomore quarterback Jaleel Awini exploited a few gaps in the Utah State secondary to drive down for a field goal, then Air Force got a break on an Aggies fumble. Utah State’s defense was able to hold Air Force to a field goal again.
The Aggies got a third touchdown early in the second quarter on a 72-yard drive. Joey DeMartino scored on a 2-yard run. Air Force responded with its own nine-minute touchdown drive, carried on by three Aggies penalties that cost 37 yards. Awini ran in for the score to close the gap to 21-13.
Utah State benefitted from a shanked Air Force punt before the end of the half, getting a field goal with 17 seconds left.
Keeton led the Aggies with 185 yards passing and 42 yards rushing, but threw an interception to go with his touchdown. Overall, the Aggies led with 279 yards of total offense compared to Air Force’s 152, but Utah State also gave up 70 yards on eight first-half penalties.