10:00 PM ET, October 16, 2003
Hughes Stadium (CO), Fort Collins, CO
FORT COLLINS, Colo. (AP) -- Sparked by quarterback Bradlee Van Pelt, Colorado State took the nation's No. 3 rushing team to school.
Van Pelt ran for two touchdowns and passed for another -- all in the second quarter -- as Colorado State beat Air Force 30-20 Thursday night.
"Their offensive line dominated the ball game," Air Force coach Fisher DeBerry said. "They took control of the football and beat us at our own game."
Air Force, which entered the game averaging 297.4 yards on the ground, was outrushed 306-276.
Van Pelt's versatility helped the Rams (5-3, 2-1 Mountain West) generate 564 total yards and moved the defending champions back into contention in the conference.
Air Force (6-2, 3-1) was led by quarterback Chance Harridge, who ran for 136 yards and two scores. He was intercepted twice, both times by safety Benny Mastropaolo.
Van Pelt ran for 125 yards on 17 carries and completed 14 of 22 passes for 258 yards. David Anderson caught nine passes for 199 yards -- both career highs -- including a 5-yard scoring pass.
"If he can run for 70 to 100 yards a game and throw for 250, we're going to be tough to beat," Colorado State coach Sonny Lubick said. "That's what you dream about."
Asked if he came close to perfection, Van Pelt said, "I wouldn't say it was a perfect game for me. I still missed a couple of reads. I'll never stop looking for perfection, but I'm satisfied with the results."
Van Pelt said Anderson is "just an excellent receiver, great hands, runs great routes. He and (Chris) Pittman both have great hands. I expect nine out of 10 times they will come down with the ball."
Colorado State's relentless offense left DeBerry shaking his head.
"Van Pelt was outstanding," DeBerry said. "He is a fine football player. He did a great job of getting Anderson the ball."
After a scoreless first quarter that included Air Force's block of a Colorado State field goal attempt, the teams combined for 37 points in a wild second quarter, with CSU leading 23-14.
Van Pelt got it started, capping an 89-yard drive with a 13-yard scramble barely three minutes into the period.
Pass plays -- a rarity in Air Force's wishbone offense -- played key roles in the Falcons' two scores in the quarter. Matt Ward turned a screen pass into a 32-yard gain, and Harridge hit Joe Schieffer on a 41-yard pass on the next play, setting up Harridge's 1-yard scoring run.
After Colorado State's Jeff Babcock kicked a 48-yard field goal, equaling his career longest, Air Force got a quick score when halfback Schieffer took a pitchout and heaved a 69-yard scoring pass to a wide open Alec Messerall for a 14-10 lead. It was Schieffer's first pass attempt of his career.
Van Pelt put the Rams back in front, culminating a 65-yard drive with a 3-yard scoring run.
Van Pelt's 38-yard pass to Anderson set up another Colorado State score with 1:01 left in the half. Van Pelt faked to his tailback going right, then found Anderson wide open on the left side of the end zone for a 5-yard score.
Anderson had six catches for 148 yards in the half, including receptions of 31, 36 and 38 yards.
Marcus Houston's 12-yard run put Colorado State ahead 30-14 late in the third period.
Air Force responded with a 15-play, 80-yard drive that ended on Harridge's 2-yard TD run, but a pass on the 2-point conversion attempt fell incomplete.