COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (ABC4 Sports) – Utah State made a change at quarterback, but the Aggies had no answer for the Air Force ground attack.
Emmanuel Michel scored three touchdowns on short runs and Air Force dominated the first half in a 39-21 victory over Utah State in a Mountain West Conference opener on Friday night.
Michel sandwiched 1-yard and 2-yard touchdown runs around a 4-yard scoring run by quarterback Zac Larrier and the Falcons (3-0) led 21-0 after one quarter.
John Lee Eldridge III ran 13 yards for another score, while Matthew Dapore kicked a 49-yard field goal on the final play of the second quarter and Air Force led 32-7 at halftime.
Utah State racked up 277 yards rushing in the first half alone, and finished with 344 on the ground for the game.
Michel’s 2-yard TD run midway through the third quarter made it 39-7.
Utah State head coach Blake Anderson decided to make a change at quarterback, bringing in true freshman McCae Hillstead for the struggling Cooper Legas.t
Hillstead, who won the 6A state championship at Skyridge High last year, threw his first career touchdown pass for Utah State to Terrell Vaughn in the second quarter. Hillstead added a TD pass to Jalen Royals from 9 yards out, and a 6-yard touchdown to Micah Davis in the fourth quarter, but it was too little, too late.
Larrier completed 3 of 4 passes for 84 yards and ran 10 times for 56 yards for the Falcons. Owen Burk rushed 15 times for 110 yards, while Michel added 106 yards on 28 carries. Air Force piled up 428 yards of offense, including 344 on the ground.
Hillstead completed 18 of 27 passes for 202 yards for the Aggies. Micah Davis, who spent his first two collegiate seasons at Air Force, caught a career-high-tying four catches for 84 yards.
Utah State managed only 54 yards on 26 rushes, as Air Force outgained the Aggies in total yards, 428-302.
Rahsul Faison led the Aggies in rushing with 40 yards on seven carries. Broc Lane had four receptions for 36 yards, both career highs.
Defensively, Cole Joyce finished with a career-high 11 tackles, including 1.0 tackles for loss and 1.0 sacks. Ike Larsen also had 11 stops, which was a career best for the sophomore safety.
Utah State (1-2, 0-1 MWC) will next host James Madison on September 23 at 6:00 p.m.