No. 22 San Diego State holds off Air Force, 20-14

Oct 23, 2021, 7:43 AM | Updated: 10:10 pm
San Diego State cornerback Dallas Branch runs for a short gain after intercepting apass against Air...

San Diego State cornerback Dallas Branch runs for a short gain after intercepting apass against Air Force in the first half of an NCAA college football game Saturday, Oct. 23, 2021, at Air Force Academy, Colo. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)

(AP Photo/David Zalubowski)

AIR FORCE ACADEMY, Colo. (AP) — A change in San Diego State’s defensive scheme helped the Aztecs slow down Air Force’s run-heavy offense.

Matt Araiza kicked two field goals, Kaegun Williams and Chance Bell ran for touchdowns and No. 22 San Diego State withstood Air Force’s comeback bid to win 20-14 on Saturday night.

The Aztecs kept Air Force’s top-ranked running attack in check by frequently using a fourth linebacker instead of a defensive back.

“Everybody knows what they do,” Aztecs linebacker Michael Shawfroft said. “They run the ball really well. They’re a really tough team to play. It was just something that we game-planned really well this week. Our coaches made it simple for us and just let us play our game. It was just see ball, get ball.”

San Diego State (7-0, 3-0 Mountain West) beat Air Force for a ninth straight time. Air Force (6-2, 3-2) had its four-game winning streak snapped.

“Instead of having another DB in there, we really felt our linebackers — and that’s a really good group, they’re well-coached — it put some bigger bodies out there on the field that are really athletic also,” San Diego State coach Brady Hoke said.

The Aztecs led 13-0 at half, with Williams’ 1-yard TD run between Araiza’s field goals of 22 and 51 yards following Air Force turnovers.

“We had too many mistakes on our part,” Air Force defensive lineman Jordan Jackson said. “They’re a great team and we couldn’t afford to make mistakes like we did. I think that was the deciding factor.”

San Diego State added to the lead on its first possession of the second half. Bell broke a 32-yard run before scoring from 3 yards out to make it 20-0.

“If you go out there and fight every play, eventually something’s going to happen, some big play is going to come, something is going to work out and that’s exactly what we trust in,” Bell said.

The Falcons got on the board late in the third quarter on Warren Bryan’s 13-yard pass to Dalton King on fourth down. Initially ruled incomplete, the call was overturned on review when it was determined King had possession when he crossed the goal line before the ball came out on the hit by Patrick McMorris.

Air Force pulled to within six after Dane Kinamon took a fourth-down pitch from Bryan and ran 3 yards for a touchdown with 3:59 left.

The Falcons got the ball back with 2:18 to play and punted after a fourth-down conversion was negated by a penalty. San Diego State ran out the final 1:35.

Araiza, who also punts for the Aztecs, got off an 81-yarder in the first quarter. It was the second consecutive week Araiza had an 80-plus yard punt and a 50-plus yard field goal. He had an 86-yard punt and a 53-yard field goal in the Aztecs’ double overtime victory over San Jose State last week. GOING LONG

Araiza had a 67-yard punt to go with his 81-yarder and now has 14 punts of 60 or more yards on the season, tying him with Texas A&M’s Braden Mann (2018) for the most in a season in FBS history.


San Diego State’s top-ranked rushing defense bottled up Air Force’s ground game most of the game. The Aztecs held the Falcons to 192 rushing yards, well under Air Force’s average of 336.4 per game.

Air Force dropped to 4-19 against Top 25 opponents under coach Troy Calhoun. The Falcons’ last win over a ranked team was in 2016.


The Aztecs stand out as the lone unbeaten team in the Mountain West and figure to improve their ranking.


San Diego State: Returns home to take on Fresno State on Saturday night.

Air Force: The Commander-in-Chief’s Trophy will be on the line when Army plays the Falcons on Nov. 6 at Globe Life Field in Arlington, Texas.

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


Police cars wrecked in soccer riots are seen on the pitch at Kanjuruhan Stadium in Malang, East Jav...
Associated Press

EXPLAINER: What’s behind Indonesia’s deadly soccer match?

JAKARTA, Indonesia (AP) — Violence and a deadly stampede that erupted following a domestic league soccer match Saturday night marked another tragedy in Indonesian football. Here’s a look at how the chaos occurred and what is being done to prevent future incidents. ___ HOW DID THE CHAOS OCCUR? Chaos broke out after Persebaya Surabaya defeated […]
1 day ago
Associated Press

Chambers 5 total TDs help Montana St. beat UC Davis 41-24

BOZEMAN, Mont. (AP) — Sean Chambers completed 13 of 21 passes for 227 yards and two touchdowns and ran for 203 yards and three TDs on 18 carries to help Montana State beat UC Davis 41-24 Saturday night. Chambers, a transfer from Wyoming who made his first career start in place of injured starter Tommy […]
1 day ago
Oregon quarterback Bo Nix (10) runs past Stanford coach David Shaw, right, on a long gain during th...
Associated Press

Nix has 4 TDs and No. 13 Oregon downs Stanford 45-27

EUGENE, Ore. (AP) — When Oregon quarterback Bo Nix took off running in the third quarter, teammate Chase Cota was cheering for him to keep going. Nix indeed kept going, and going — all the way for an 80-yard touchdown. “I remember when I saw him get out and he was like 40 yards down […]
1 day ago
Associated Press

McCoy throws for 4 TDs, Idaho beats N. Colorado 55-35

MOSCOW, Idaho (AP) — Gevani McCoy completed 22 of 27 passes for 297 yards and four touchdowns, Elisha Cummings accounted for three TDs and Idaho beat Northern Colorado 55-35 Saturday night. Cummings finished with 78 yards rushing and two touchdowns on seven carries and his 12-yard TD catch midway through the fourth quarter made it […]
1 day ago
Southern California quarterback Caleb Williams, left, throws a touchdown pass as Arizona State defe...
Associated Press

Caleb Williams runs, passes No. 6 USC past Arizona St. 42-25

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Although Caleb Williams and No. 6 Southern California never trailed against Arizona State, the Trojans also couldn’t pull away during a fairly average first half by their newly ambitious standards under coach Lincoln Riley. “It just wasn’t quite us,” Riley said. “Wasn’t quite the edge that we’re used to playing with, […]
1 day ago
Associated Press

Dunniway, Skattebo lead Sacramento St. past Cal Poly 49-21

SAN LUIS OBISPO, Calif. (AP) — Jake Dunniway threw two touchdown passes, Cameron Skattebo scored three TDs, and Sacramento State beat Cal Poly 49-21 Saturday night for the Hornets seventh consecutive road win. The Hornets, ranked No. 5 in the FCS coaches poll, have not yet trailed in a game this season and have won […]
1 day ago
No. 22 San Diego State holds off Air Force, 20-14