Saturday’s Air Force-New Mexico game wasn’t available on national cable television, so for those who missed it, a quick recap:
- Air Force’s leading rusher, Cody Getz, aggravated his left ankle injury on the first play of the game and didn’t return.
- Air Force allowed New Mexico junior Kasey Carrier to rack up 338 yards on the ground and three touchdowns.
- No Air Force running back topped 100 yards, and the Falcons’ leading rusher, junior Ty MacArthur, plays wide receiver.
- New Mexico jumped out to a 10-0 lead before the halfway point of the first quarter.
- … And despite all that, the Falcons earned a 28-23 win to improve to 4-3 on the year (3-1 Mountain West Conference).
How does a team overcome a 338-yard rushing performance? First, rally behind running back Wes Cobb, who shouldered the offensive workload with a 17-carry, 82-yard, three-touchdown effort (MacArthur sprinted to 94 yards on just seven carries).
Second, get some timely defense from senior linebacker Alex Means, who wrapped up Lobos running back Lamaar Thomas on a critical fourth down with about four minutes to play.
Third? Well, a little luck never killed anybody: Means picked off a B.R. Holbrook pass in the second quarter and returned it 65 yards for a touchdown, admitting to The Associated Press after the game that he’d blown the blitz call on the play and was lucky to arrive in the Lobos’ backfield just a little late.
Means’ score and key stop may help Air Force overlook the 338-yard elephant in the room. Carrier’s effort set a new MWC record and places him within two yards of the top 25 rushing performances in Football Bowl Subdivision history, the realm of familiar names like TCU’s LaDainian Tomlinson (best-ever 406 yards vs. UTEP), San Diego State’s Marshall Faulk (386 vs. Pacific), Texas’ Ricky Williams (350 vs. Iowa State), and Georgia Tech’s Eddie Lee Ivery.
A quick primer on that last guy: Ivery rushed for 356 yards on Nov. 11, 1978, tied for the 11th-best total ever. He did it on the road. He did it against a team coached by a man who’d go on to win Super Bowls. He did it … against Air Force.
And unlike this year’s team, Bill Parcells’ Falcons couldn’t overcome a 300-plus-yard rusher, falling to Georgia Tech 42-21.