AIR FORCE ACADEMY, Colo. -- Nearly 800 yards of offense wasn't enough to put a smile on Troy Calhoun's face. Neither was almost 600 yards on the ground or nine touchdowns to go with just one punt.
Air Force's forlorn coach was more concerned about the two fumbles inside the opponents' 5-yard line and a blown coverage that resulted in an 80-yard pass play in the Falcons' 63-24 rout of Tennessee State on Saturday.
"There were some things that we did well out there and yet there were a good number of mistakes," said Calhoun, his sights set squarely on Navy next weekend.
The Falcons (2-1) atoned for their sloppy play with a dominant ground game that churned out a whopping 595 yards on 66 carries against the lower division Tigers (1-3), and Tim Jefferson threw for a career-high three touchdown passes in setting the school record with his 23rd career win.
Air Force piled up a school record 792 yards of offense, a Mountain West Conference record.
Calhoun was not impressed.
"Not really, no," he said, citing the two fumbles near the goal line and the big blown coverage.
Not helping his mood, either, was the reality that his turnstile defense will need yet another adjustment following injuries to starting linemen Zach Payne (knee) and Cody Miller (leg).
"There are going to be some parts, we've got to get them fit together, and we're just going to have pull together, too," Calhoun said. "...We've got new guys in there and yet we're going to have to play like we're old and grizzled."
Air Force rushed for six touchdowns, including the first two of junior Mike DeWitt's career and one by starter Asher Clark, who had 148 yards on 13 carries. Freshman Jonathan Lee scampered into the end zone from 49 yards out on his first collegiate carry, which made it 63-17.
The Tigers of the Ohio Valley Conference had never allowed more points.
"At least we didn't get beat up as bad as we thought," Tigers coach Rod Reed said. "We were bigger than this team but they played hard every snap. We had offensive linemen (blocking) our safety down the field on every snap. I see why they defend our country. They're a very disciplined group."
And yet in the Air Force locker room, there wasn't so much satisfaction over a job well done as determination to clean things up.
"Overall, I would not say we played great," Jefferson said. "We played well. But I can definitely find areas where we could have done things better. Two fumbles on drives inside the 5-yard line, that says enough by itself. Defensively ... there was just a bust in the secondary. You can't have that, especially coming up against Navy, there's no room for error."
Jefferson (13 of 15 for 178 yards) threw a pair of 34-yard scoring strikes, Clark scored on a 7-yard run, DeWitt took it in from 4 yards out and Wes Cobb added a 2-yard TD run for the Falcons, who led 35-10 at halftime.
It could have been much worse.
Air Force defensive back Anthony Wooding Jr. allowed Calvin McNairl to blow past him and haul in an 80-yard TD catch, and Falcons running back Anthony LaCoste was stripped by linebacker John Jones a foot before crossing the goal line on a 22-yard run.
"If the offense would have come through after that, it would have been a different ballgame," Jones said.
About the only time the Tigers held up after that was when Lamar Wallace recovered DeWitt's fumble at the Tennessee State 5 in the second quarter.
Davis was one of the few Falcons who allowed himself to bask in the 39-point victory, warts and all. After all, they forced eight punts two weeks after failing to get TCU off the field in a 35-19 loss to the Horned Frogs.
"We get our confidence back," Davis said. "We were able to get guys off the field on third down. That's what we couldn't do against TCU. That makes us feel great."
The Falcons improved to 17-0 against teams from the Championship Subdivision. They put Tennessee State on their schedule to fill a hole that was left when Utah and BYU bolted the Mountain West Conference and only Boise State joined.
The Tigers came to town a day early to try to get acclimated to the 6.620-foot elevation but they were gasping for breath chasing the Falcons' ball carries all afternoon.
"This was a game we knew would be tough for us, especially coming from Tennessee to this altitude," said Tigers coach Rod Reed, whose school got a $370,000 check to go along with the whooping. "We had guys coming out on the first series who couldn't breathe.
"It's something we have to look into in the future whether we want to take a game like this. It's really hard on the kids and you know it's hard on their spirits when you give up a lot of yardage like that."
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