No. 22 San Diego St. builds lead, holds off Air Force 20-14

No. 22 San Diego St. builds lead, holds off Air Force 20-14
Posted at 10:04 PM, Oct 23, 2021
and last updated 2021-10-24 00:04:05-04

AIR FORCE ACADEMY — 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.