COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (AP) Garrett Brown didn’t look back during his 75-yard punt return for a touchdown on Saturday.
He waited until after the game.
That’s when the Air Force speedster looked back and remembered how close his highlight-reel return came to never happening.
”I mean, I almost fair caught it,” Brown said, with a grin.
His punt return for a touchdown was the Falcons first in six years, and it was just a small part of 63-7 lopsided Air Force win over Morgan State.
Nate Romine went 4 for 7 and threw for 119 yards and two touchdowns. D.J. Johnson had 82 yards and a touchdown on the ground, and Benton Washington added 62 yards rushing and a TD for the Falcons, who saw 16 different players carry the ball for a total of 394 yards.
Roland Ladipo added an interception return for a touchdown, the Falcons first in three years.
”Any time you score nine touchdowns in a game you feel pretty good afterwards,” Romine said. ”This is kind of a blueprint of who we are — a run-first team.”
After five consecutive rushing attempts on the opening drive, Romine threw his first touchdown since 2013, an easy toss to Jalen Robinette for a 26-yard score. And later, in the second half, he connected with Alex Ludowig on a 35-yard score.
On both throws, his receivers had badly beaten the Bears coverage.
”It’s nerve-racking when they’re that wide open,” Romine said. ”You’re like, `Oh don’t want to ruin this one.’ But you kind of just get it to them and it turned out to be a pretty good play.”
That was about it for Romine’s arm.
He didn’t complete a pass on the offense’s second and third drives as D.J. Johnson capped a 75-yard drive with a 3-yard score, and Benton Washington finished a 55-yard drive with a 13-yard touchdown.
He then watched on the sideline as Brown’s punt return put Air Force up 28-0 with 8:35 left in the first half.
The lead only snowballed from there.
The Falcons went on to outscore Morgan State 35-0 in the second half. Shayne Davern, Timothy McVey and Scott Hester each had rushing TDs, and Ladipo had a 22-yard pick-six, the Falcons’ first since 2012.
By the end, Air Force’s 63 points was its most since beating Nicholls State 72-0 on this date in 2009. But that still didn’t seem to impress coach Troy Calhoun.
”It’s one day, that’s all it is,” he said. ”No more, no less. It’s one game.”
Meanwhile, Morgan State of the Football Championship Subdivision looked depleted. Ten of its players were ruled academically ineligible — the biggest of those being speedy running back Herb Walker Jr., who rushed for a school-record 1,408 yards and 15 touchdowns last season. It was also the first time the Bears football program had ever played in the thin air of Colorado.
Moses Skillon, who coach Lee Hull wouldn’t name as the official starter until Saturday, carried much of the load. He threw for 142 yards, rushed for another 35 yards, and capped the Bears only scoring drive with a 2-yard run in the waning seconds of the second half.
”Air Force is a great team and if you come here short-handed, this is what is going to happen,” Hull said.
Air Force is now 9-0 in season openers under Calhoun, and 20-0 all-time against FCS opponents and has won eight straight home games dating back to 2013.