2:00 PM ET, September 1, 2007
Falcon Stadium, UNITED STATES AF ACA, CO
AIR FORCE ACADEMY, Colo. (AP) -- So much for the question of whether Air Force could successfully implement its new offense.
"After the game I feel 100 percent," Carney said about the new offense. "Before, I felt about 85 percent. Were we going to be able to do this? The way we moved the ball gave us some confidence, and it's going to give us some confidence over the next couple of weeks."
New coach Troy Calhoun brought with him a book of new plays for the Falcons' attack, and many of them worked against the Bulldogs. At one point, Air Force (1-0) lined up with five wide receivers and only Carney in the backfield. The next play, three running backs lined up directly behind the Falcons' quarterback.
It all seemed to confuse the Bulldogs (0-1), who play in the Football Championship Subdivision, formerly Division I-AA. South Carolina State forced Air Force to punt only once with it's first-team offense on the field.
The triple-option attack so famous under former coach Fisher DeBerry wasn't entirely scrapped, but the Falcons relied more on their passing game than the grind-it-out style from the DeBerry era. All four of the Air Force touchdowns were scored on drives 70 yards or more.
"They made an adjustment or two and kind of put a little pressure on us," South Carolina State coach Oliver Pough said. "We just kind of just stumbled around for the rest of the day."
The senior quarterback Carney led the Falcons 79 yards on 13 plays for a touchdown on the team's first drive, going 3-for-4 for 49 yards. McCarthy capped the drive with a 1-yard touchdown run, the first of his career.
"We were all nervous just to see what was going to happen with this offense," Carney said. "That first touchdown was a huge monkey off our back."
Tight end Travis Dekker, who had only four receptions and no touchdowns last year, was Carney's primary target in the first half. The senior had three catches for 64 yards and a touchdown.
Calhoun dialed back the passing attempts in the second half with a big lead, but he felt the Falcons did exactly what he wanted them to offensively.
"By and large, we did some good things," Calhoun said. "When you are effective running the ball, then bootlegs and play-action passes, you can go after some big plays."
Chad Hall, the Falcons' leading rusher last season who was moved to wide receiver in the spring, took a reverse for an 8-yard touchdown in the second quarter.
South Carolina State led the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference in rushing last year, but was held to just 70 yards on 34 carries. Air Force pressured quarterback Cleveland McCoy all afternoon, collecting six sacks and forcing two turnovers. Cornerback Carson Bird was in on both with a fumble recovery and an interception.
The Bulldogs' brightest spot of the afternoon was the kicking game. Punter Aaron Haire had a 61-yard punt, and kicker Stephen Grantham tied a school-record with a 51-yard field goal.
Air Force snapped a four-game losing streak dating back to last year.
"The past couple years it seemed like such a one-dimensional offense," McCarthy said. "To have Shaun go out there and throw the ball like he did...that balance of pass and run is really going to throw opponents off this year."
Team Stat Comparison
|3rd Down Conversions||6-15||9-16|
|4th Down Conversions||0-0||1-2|
|TD||8:28||KIP MCCARTHY 1 YD RUN (RYAN HARRISON KICK)|
Drive info: 13 plays, 79 yards.
|TD||10:03||TRAVIS DEKKER 10 YD PASS FROM SHAUN CARNEY (RYAN HARRISON KICK)|
Drive info: 11 plays, 70 yards.
|FG||7:13||RYAN HARRISON 48 YD FG|
Drive info: 4 plays, 1 yards.
|TD||2:03||CHAD HALL 4 YD RUN (RYAN HARRISON KICK)|
Drive info: 12 plays, 76 yards.
|FG||0:00||STEPHEN GRANTHAM 51 YD FG|
Drive info: 7 plays, 26 yards.
|TD||12:57||SAVIER STEPHENS 1 YD RUN (RYAN HARRISON KICK)|
Drive info: 5 plays, 80 yards.
|FG||14:08||RYAN HARRISON 22 YD FG|
Drive info: 10 plays, 40 yards.