EditorsNote: adds to fourth graf
DJ Hammond III rushed for two touchdowns and directed a clock-chewing, run-oriented offense to five scoring drives, helping Air Force stymie the high-octane Washington State Cougars 31-21 in the Cheez-It Bowl on Friday night in Phoenix.
The Falcons (11-2) stopped the Pac-12’s top-scoring offense twice on fourth down near the goal line, and held the nation’s leader in passing yards, Washington State’s Anthony Gordon, to 351 yards. Gordon came in throwing for 436 yards per game.
Gordon threw three touchdown passes, one to Brandon Arconado with 9:59 to play to make it a three-point game, but the Cougars (6-7) couldn’t get on the field enough for their offense to get closer to their average of 39.2 points per game.
Air Force controlled time of possession 43:23 to 16:37 and scored the game-clinching touchdown when Kadin Remsberg reached over the goal line with the ball to cap a 3-yard run with 3:50 to play.
Remsberg rushed for 178 yards on 26 carries, part of the 371 rushing yards as a team for Air Force.
The Falcons stuffed the Cougars on fourth-and-goal from the 2-yard line early in the game, then converted a fourth-and-1 on offense as part of a 20-play, 98-yard drive that took 12 minutes, 23 seconds off the game clock.
Hammond plunged over the goal line with a 1-yard run on the first play of the second quarter to give Air Force the lead.
Washington State again went for it on fourth down on its second possession. On fourth-and-goal from the 2-yard line, Gordon found Dezmon Patmon in the back of the end zone, tying the score at 7 with 10:43 left in the second quarter.
After an Air Force field goal, Gordon fumbled when he was sacked by Grant Donaldson, with the Falcons’ Christopher Herrera making the recovery at the Washington State 20.
The Falcons turned that takeaway into a touchdown, Taven Birdow scoring on a 3-yard run with 1:19 left in the first half for a 17-7 lead.
A 58-yard pass play from Gordon to Tay Martin set up Max Borghi’s 5-yard touchdown catch to complete a 55-second scoring drive, and cut the Air Force lead to 17-14 at halftime.
After Hammond’s second touchdown, the Cougars drove to the Air Force 5-yard line and faced fourth-and-2 a few seconds into the fourth quarter. Again the Falcons stuffed a running play and took over on downs.
Arconado’s 11 catches for 167 yards led Cougars receivers.
—Field Level Media