AIR FORCE ACADEMY, Co. — Jalen Robinette and Karson Roberts teamed up to help bring Air Force’s passing game out of the shadows.
Roberts ran for the go-ahead touchdown and threw a career-long 74-yard touchdown pass to Robinette as Air Force hung on to beat Utah State 35-28 Saturday for their school record 12th straight home win.
“It seemed like everything was working for us,” said Robinette, who finished with seven receptions for 210 yards, the third highest single-game receiving total in Air Force history and the most by a Falcons player since 1978. “Once we started passing the ball downfield, the runs started opening up. It was just a great day overall for the offense.”
Roberts, completing 11 of 17, had 271 yards passing, the most since Dee Dowis had 306 yards passing against Notre Dame on Oct. 14, 1989. Jacobi Owens added two scoring runs and D.J. Johnson had another for Air Force (7-3, 5-1 Mountain West).
Air Force overcame a career-high four touchdown passes by Utah State’s Kent Myers in completing its second straight 6-0 home season. Myers led a last-ditch drive in the final moments, but on fourth down from the Air Force 18, his attempt for a fifth scoring pass was batted down in the end zone by safety Weston Steelhammer.
“He didn’t have much time to throw the ball, credit up front,” Steelhammer said. “I just got a good bead on it, and was able to get my hand up there.”
Myers completed 25 of 47 for 364 yards, including touchdown passes of 41, 48 and 39 yards to Hunter Sharp and a 44-yarder to Devonte Robinson, but Utah State(5-5, 4-3) could not avoid a third loss in four games, all on the road.
“I didn’t think we played very well in the back end,” Utah State coach Matt Wells said. “Our DBs weren’t on point. We didn’t play the ball very well in the air and when that kind of stuff happens against a good option team, that makes for a long day for the defense.”
Up by seven, Air Force took a 28-14 lead early in the third quarter when Roberts connected with Robinette, who out-jumped cornerback Deshane Hines for the ball at about the 40-yard line. Robinette shook the defender off and sprinted untouched the rest of the way to the end zone.
“I played basketball all my life, so it’s like going up and getting a rebound,” said the 6-4 Robinette. “That’s stuff that I love, so anytime I get a high-point ball, I’ll go up and get it.”
Myers and Sharp teamed up for their third touchdown of the day, a 39-yarder, but the Falcons answered with another scoring drive that Owens capped with his second scoring run, a 3-yarder.
The Aggies pulled to within seven again when Myers hit Robinson with a 44-yard scoring strike on the final play of the third quarter.
Roberts scooted around right end on a quarterback bootleg, squeezing his foot just inside the goal-line pylon for a touchdown with 40 seconds left in the second quarter, putting Air Force in front 21-14 at halftime.
Robinette helped set up Roberts’ scoring run with two catches for 41 yards, including a 22-yard reception on third down to keep the drive alive.
The teams traded touchdowns in the first quarter, with Utah State answering two Air Force touchdown runs with scoring strikes of 41 and 48 from Myers to Sharp.
Johnson got Air Force on the board first when he finished off a Falcons drive with his 30-yard scoring run, breaking through traffic in the middle of the line before running free past startled defenders. Owens added a 1-yard touchdown run around Sharp’s two scoring receptions.