Penny Scores 3 TDs, No. 22 SDSU Holds Off Air Force 28-24
Sept. 23, 2017
AIR FORCE ACADEMY, Colo. -- Rashaad Penny scored three times, including a 53-yard run with 5:39 remaining to lift No. 22/25 San Diego State to a 28-24 win over Air Force on a wet and stormy Saturday night in Colorado Springs, Colo.
Penny also scored from 2 yards out and from 20 yards as the Aztecs (4-0, 1-0 MW) and Falcons (1-2, 0-1 MW) had to weather an hour and 28-minute lightning delay midway through the first quarter. The game also featured five fumbles (one lost), an interception, a blocked punt and a missed field goal.
SDSU improved to 4-0 for the first time since 1981 and for just the second time in the last 42 years. San Diego State also won as a ranked team for the first time since Nov. 21, 1977. It was the sixth straight win for the Aztecs and 25th victory over their last 28 games.
AFA jumped out to the lead as Ronald Cleveland rumbled in from 29 yards out. The PAT failed, however, keeping it at 6-0 with 2:46 left in the first quarter.
After trading punts, Air Force got the ball in good field position at the SDSU 35 after a 17-yard boot. San Diego State, however, was able to keep the Falcons to a field goal and Luke Strebel made a 45-yarder with a stiff and rainy headwind to take a 9-0 lead.
On their ensuing drive, the Aztecs appeared to be heading for their third 3 and out, but a roughing the kicker call on a punt allowed SDSU to have another chance.
Right before San Diego State's next play, lightning struck in the area and play would not resume again until an hour and 28 minutes later. On the Aztecs' first play out of the delay, quarterback Christian Chapman found Kahale Warring for a 42-yard pass that got SDSU all the way to the AFA 12. Four plays later Rashaad Penny punched it in from 2 yards to put San Diego State on the scoreboard with 5:55 left in the second quarter.
The Aztecs got all the way to the 10 on their first drive of the second half, but Chapman was sacked and fumbled, keeping the score at 9-7.
SDSU forced a 3 and out, and used a methodical 11-play, 73-yard drive over 5:21 to take its first lead of the game on a 20-yard run by Penny with 1:49 left in the third quarter.
Early in the fourth quarter, Air Force blocked a Brandon Heicklen punt and ended up with the ball on the San Diego State 4. Two players later Arion Worthman pounded it in from the 1 and, after a successful 2-point conversion, the Falcons went back up at 17-14, with 12:35 left in the fourth quarter.
The Aztecs wasted no time responding, using just three plays to take back their lead when Chapman found David Wells from 28 yards out off a play-action pass.
AFA took back the lead at 24-21 with 6:16 left as Tim McVey finished an 11-play, 75-yard drive with a 12-yard run down the sideline.
SDSU once again used a short drive with two explosive plays - a 22-yard pass from Chapman to Mikah Holder and a 53-yard run by Penny - to take back the lead at 28-24 with 5:39 left.
After the team traded punts, Air Force had one last chance to win it with just over two minutes left, but Trey Lomax intercepted Worthman's fourth-down pass to seal the win for San Diego State, its school-record seventh straight over the Falcons.
Penny finished with 128 yards on 20 carries (6.4 avg.), his fourth consecutive game with at least 100 yards, and tied a career high with the three touchdowns.
Chapman passed for 180 yards and a touchdown, completing 10 of 16 passes.
Parker Baldwin led the Aztec defense with 13 tackles.
SDSU, which improved to 19-2 in its last 21 games against Mountain West opponents, did not record a penalty for the first time since Oct. 13, 2012 and for just the second time since at least 1996.