Tim McVey helps Air Force to 48-14 win over Georgia State
AIR FORCE ACADEMY, Colo. (AP) At times, Georgia State wearing blue-and-white uniforms confused Air Force coach Troy Calhoun. His team still passed this test with flying colors.
Tim McVey returned a kickoff 99 yards for a touchdown and scored on an 18-yard run, helping Air Force beat Georgia State 48-14 on Saturday for the Falcons' 14th straight home victory.
It's easy to see why Calhoun sometimes didn't know whether to cheer or yell: The Falcons (2-0) usually wear blue and white, but donned a new gun-metal gray jersey for this game.
''Kept me off guard,'' Calhoun cracked.
Same with QB Nate Romine, who threw a pass into the vicinity of a receiver wearing the traditional Falcons color scheme, only to realize that wasn't a good thing.
''I was like, `Well there's blue and white there, so maybe it will be good?''' said Romine, who rushed for 124 yards on 20 carries. ''It was awesome to be able to rock these unis.''
Outside of their opening drive, the Panthers (0-2) couldn't generate any sort of offense. They finished with six first downs - and none on the ground. It's the fewest first downs allowed by Air Force since 1966, the team said.
''We just played well,'' cornerback Jesse Washington casually said.
Receiver Tyler Williams added two rushing TDs for Air Force, which hasn't lost at Falcon Stadium since Nov. 21, 2013, against UNLV. It's the longest home winning streak in team history.
Georgia State (0-2) struggled on special teams, giving up McVey's kick return, shanking several punts and allowing Air Force to recover an onside kick moments after the Falcons scored to start the second half. The Falcons cashed that bold move in with Williams' 2-yard score to make it 41-14.
The Panthers couldn't contain Air Force's offense. The Falcons scored points on seven of their first nine drives and finished with 531 total yards. They dominated time of possession (45:14 to 14:46).
''I thought this week we made some strides,'' Calhoun said. ''We've got an awful lot of room to still grow and develop.''
On its first drive, Georgia State went to the air and caught Air Force by surprise. The drive culminated with a one-handed TD grab by tight end Ari Werts.
But the lead lasted all off 13 seconds as McVey caught the kickoff near the goal line and took it back without being touched. It was the first kickoff return for a score by Air Force since Oct. 9, 2010, against Colorado State.
''It was a series of us hurting ourselves and not coming through and making plays when we need to,'' Georgia State coach Trent Miles said. ''You had opportunities, but then you don't convert on them and you go three-and-out. Your defense is out on the field and they wear your butt down.''
GEORGIA STATE: The big plays were there, but the Panthers either let catchable passes drop through their hands or the ball was slightly overthrown. They start 0-2 for the third time in five seasons.
AIR FORCE: Favored by 20 1/2 points, the Falcons got on track after a sluggish start. The real challenge is this: They can't get caught looking past their next opponent to a looming showdown with Navy on Oct. 1.
The Falcons honored 2008 graduate and standout defensive back Carson Bird , who's fighting a rare form of bone cancer that led to the amputation of his left leg a few months ago. Bird led the team out of the tunnel Saturday.
''It's overwhelming the amount of support - the way the program has supported me, the way the school has supported me,'' Bird said.
Shayne Davern and D.J. Johnson kept the clocking moving with one successful fullback dive after another. The tandem combined for 36 carries for 141 yards. Davern also scored a TD.
''They aren't some kind of pretty, dazzle you, highly glamorous runs,'' Calhoun said. ''But they help with efficiency.''
GEORGIA STATE: Travel to No. 10 Wisconsin for the second of three straight road games. The Panthers don't play at home again until Oct. 8.
AIR FORCE: After a bye, open Mountain West play in two weeks by traveling to Utah State.