AIR FORCE ACADEMY, Colo. (AP) — A relentless running attack and a stifled star quarterback spelled doom for Colgate against Air Force on Saturday.
Preseason Patriot League offensive player of the year Gavin McCarney was held to 143 yards passing in a 38-13 season-opening loss to the Falcons and had to watch from the sidelines as Air Force racked up 409 yards rushing.
“They wore us down, particularly on defense, because they were getting a lot of people in on offense,” Colgate coach Dick Biddle said. “We knew we had to bring our ‘A’ game, and I thought our kids played well. Our defense struggled a little bit, but they’re a very good team.”
McCarney, who accounted for a school-record 3,778 yards of total offense last season, put the Raiders ahead 7-0 with a first-quarter touchdown pass to tight end Kevin O’Connell, but Colgate could not maintain the momentum.
“I think if we had thrown the ball a little bit more, we could have made it a better game,” Biddle said. “They made some big plays in the passing game. Our quarterback is a good player and can make plays, but they took him out (of the game).
“We got some runs from our tailbacks, but not the long runs like we normally get out of our quarterback.”
Air Force scored 38 unanswered points despite losing starting quarterback Kale Pearson late in the second half to a knee injury and steamrolled a tired and overmatched Raiders defense.
Broam Hart and Jon Lee each went over 100 yards and scored twice for the Falcons, with Lee finishing with 130 yards and Hart adding 101. They were the first Air Force tandem to eclipse the 100-yard mark since 2009.
Backup quarterback Jaleel Awini was solid in relief of Pearson as Air Force improved to 7-0 in openers under coach Troy Calhoun.
John Wilkins added a late TD for the Raiders. He finished with 90 yards rushing.
Colgate finished with 300 total yards against a Falcons defense featuring a revamped linebacker corps. The Raiders are 1-6 against FBS opponents under Biddle.
The experience, Biddle believes, will help his squad prepare for the remainder of the season.
“I was proud of our football team to come all the way out here and play in a hostile environment against a Division I team,” Biddle said. “I think it will help us down the road, and I think we’ll have a pretty good football team.”
After scoring on the opening drive, Colgate was eyeing another possible surprise win by a school from the Football Championships Subdivision this weekend, following North Dakota State’s stunning 24-21 victory over Kansas State on Friday.
That’s when Hart went to work, scoring twice on short runs. Lee added a 9-yard TD with 1:48 remaining before halftime, extending the Falcons’ lead to 21-7.
Just before Lee’s score, Air Force was dealt a blow when Pearson took a helmet to his right leg from Raiders linebacker Kris Kent while scrambling for a first down.
Pearson, who won the starting job in camp, initially got up, only to fall to the turf. He was helped off the field by the trainers and examined on the sideline. With his knee wrapped in ice, Pearson was carted into the locker room. He finished 5 of 8 for 46 yards and rushed for 15 more.
Pressed into duty, Awini led the Falcons on three straight scoring drives in the second half to put the game away. He was 2 of 3 through the air for 26 yards as the Falcons moved to 18-0 all-time against teams from the FCS.
– By NEAL REID, Associated Press
(© Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)