Football: Falcons, Hall run roughshod over CSU
By Wayne Amann
U.S. Air Force Academy Public Affairs
FORT COLLINS, Colo. (AFPN) — At 5 feet 8 inches and 180 pounds, U.S. Air Force Academy senior Chad Hall is one of the smallest players in Division I college football. However, the Z-back (a combination wide receiver/running back) exploded for a Falcon single-game rushing record 256 yards on 31 carries and scored four touchdowns, leading Air Force to a 45-21 battering of the Colorado State Rams Oct. 13, before 25,150 fans at Hughes Stadium in Fort Collins, Colo.
The Atlanta native eclipsed the old bluesuiter mark of 249 yards set in 1989 by Heisman Trophy candidate Dee Dowis. The week before, Hall posted a career-best 169 yards on 18 carries, against the University of Nevada-Las Vegas, to earn Mountain West Conference Offensive Player of the Week honors.
“It’s a great accomplishment because Dee Dowis is one of the greatest players to come through here,” Hall said. “All the credit has to go to our offensive linemen, the perimeter blockers and our fullbacks who opened the holes.”
After a 45-minute lightning delay, Hall and company took the opening kickoff in drizzly conditions and thundered 80 yards in 14 running plays, capped by a 2-yard touchdown scamper by Hall for a 7-0 lead.
One minute and 13 seconds later, Falcon senior linebacker Drew Fowler intercepted a Caleb Hanie screen pass and rumbled 26 yards for another touchdown.
“Our coaches were emphasizing they like to throw the screen,” Fowler said. “Their running back just slipped out (in my coverage area) and he (Hanie) threw it right to me.”
It was the first of four interceptions by the Air Force defense. Cornerback Carson Bird picked off two and linebacker Austin Randle the other.
Meanwhile, Air Force quarterback Shaun Carney threw just five passes and completed three for 52 yards, including a 35-yard touchdown strike to wide receiver Mark Root in the third quarter to balloon the lead to 38-14.
Hall’s record-breaking game overshadowed Carney’s first completion, a 12-yarder to Hall in the first quarter. It enabled the senior signal caller to become the Falcons’ all-time career passing leader. Carney’s 4,835 yards passed Dave Ziebart’s (1976-1979) 4,789.
Carney relied on a relentless ground attack, 69 carries for 385 yards, to control the tempo.
Five drives, between 10 and 16 plays each, kept Air Force in command. The Falcons held the ball for 12:45 of the fourth quarter to put the game away. The credit was earned by the offensive line.
“Those guys have been spectacular,” Air Force head coach Troy Calhoun said. “They played well down the stretch against Utah. They salted the UNLV game away last week. And they did it again in this one.”
The win gave Air Force (5-2, 4-1) sole possession of second place in the Mountain West Conference behind Brigham Young (4-2, 3-0). It’s the Falcons’ best start in league play since they went 4-1 as a member of the Western Athletic Conference in 1998.
The loss sent the intra-state rival Rams (0-6, 0-3) to their 13th straight defeat.
Team numbers aside, Hall was named one of four nominees for the AT&T All-America Player of the Week Award. It’s the only college football honor determined exclusively by fan voting, which ends Jan. 4. The nominee ballot list is selected by ESPN based on player performance during the week. The winner will be announced during the national championship game on FOX-TV Jan. 8.
“It’s fun,” said Hall when asked about his success carrying the ball the last couple of weeks. “I’ll do everything I can to make plays for this team and win every game.”