Worthman, stingy defense lift Air Force to 62-0 win over VMI
AIR FORCE ACADEMY, Colo. — Quarterback Arion Worthman ran the Air Force offense with a steady hand even if it was shaking for most of the first quarter.
“Couldn’t even tell you why,” he said. “Just nervous.”
Worthman accounted for three touchdowns in a half’s worth of work and Air Force’s revamped defense allowed only six first downs, helping the Falcons cruise to a 62-0 win over VMI on Saturday.
Worthman ran for a short score and connected twice with receiver Geraud Sanders , including a 57-yard TD where Sanders was all alone. Worthman got the second half off as the Falcons worked in the backups in front of their home fans.
“Glad we were able to give them a good show today,” Worthman said.
Air Force improved to 11-0 in season openers under coach Troy Calhoun, winning by an average of 37.5 points.
There was a scary moment early in the second quarter when VMI quarterback Austin Coulling took a big hit while going into a slide. He was strapped to a back brace and carted off the field.
Keydets coach Scott Wachenheim said he was optimistic Coulling would be able to fly home with the team or in the morning.
“They’re still doing tests,” Wachenheim said. “It was a good clean hit, I guess, and Austin hopefully will heal real fast and be ready to help us out the rest of the season.”
Duncan Hodges took over and finished 5 of 10 for 3 yards.
The Keydets were making their farthest trip west in school history to play a football game, according to the team. Before this, their outermost excursion west was to College Station, Texas, to face Texas A&M in 1950.
Air Force figured to be a work in progress on defense after losing 11 of its top 12 tacklers from a season ago. But the Falcons held the Keydets to 95 total yards and forced more punts (10) than they allowed first downs.
“We lost a lot of players and everyone is like, ‘Oh, the defense is going to fall off,’” freshman defensive lineman Jordan Jackson said. “We came out today and I believe we played very well.”
No arguments from VMI.
“We won’t play a team as good as them the rest of the year,” running back Daz Palmer said. “We thought when they scored they would try and slow down a little bit. We got to push through stuff like that. We can’t expect people to step down to the competition.”
VMI: It was a tall order for the Keydets, who were picked to finish ninth in the Southern Conference preseason poll. Coulling was 3 of 6 for 25 yards before being hurt.
AIR FORCE: The offense was in perfect step, scoring TDs on five of seven possessions in the first half before Calhoun began to work in the backups.
Worthman went through his read progressions on his first TD pass before finally seeing Sanders with no one even close to him.
“Coach was like, ‘Took you long enough to find him,’” Worthman cracked.
Sanders knew he would eventually find him.
“Because he’s got that sixth sense,” Sanders said.
THIS & THAT
Wachenheim was a four-year starter for Air Force from 1980-83. He began his coaching career by serving as the offensive coordinator of the Falcons’ JV team in 1984. “It’s not fun to lose no matter where you lose,” he said. … Falcons RB Tim McVey finished with 98 yards rushing and a score. … The Falcons worked in a fourth-string QB named Mike Schmidt. … Air Force’s 95 total yards allowed were the second-fewest in school history, the team said. The record is 66 total yards allowed against San Diego in 1956.
VMI: The Keydets face Catawba College out of North Carolina on Saturday.
AIR FORCE: After a bye week, the Falcons play at Michigan on Sept. 16. Anxious? “We treat every week the same,” Sanders said. “Even if we’re playing Michigan, a pretty big school, it doesn’t matter. We still do what we do every week in and out — just go out there and play.”