Colorado Springs, Colo.----- For almost three quarters, San Jose State had an answer for Air Force's option ground attack, but fullback D.J. Robinson's three fourth-quarter touchdowns propelled the Falcons to a 37-16 win in the Mountain West Conference opener for both teams.
Robinson scored on runs of 13, 1 and 34 yards with a career-best 103 yards on 21 carries as Air Force (2-0, 1-0 Mountain West) pulled away from a tightly contested 17-16 advantage after three quarters. Eighty-two of Robinson's yards came in the fourth quarter.
Quarterback Nate Romine led the Falcons with 116 yards on 19 carries as Air Force finished with 428 rushing yards, 178 in the final quarter alone. His 1-yard quarterback sneak late in the second quarter gave the Falcons a 14-13 lead going into halftime.
Like the opener, head coach Ron Caragher used Joe Gray and Kenny Potter at quarterback with Potter getting the starting nod. Each quarterback's interception in the decisive fourth quarter stopped a Spartan drive and preceded a Johnson touchdown run for Air Force. Neither signal caller threw for 100 yards as the Spartans gained just 140 through the air.
San Jose State (1-1, 0-1 Mountain West) actually rushed for more yards, 150, than it passed as part of its 290 yards of total offense.
Running back Tyler Ervin accounted for nearly all of the yardage leading all players with 121 yards on just 12 carries. He scored both Spartan touchdowns on a 17-yard reception in the first quarter and a 66-yard burst along the right sideline at the start of the second half. Jimmy Pruitt's interception and 24-yard return to the Air Force 21-yard line set up San Jose State's first score of the night.
Following Ervin's long run, freshman Bryce Crawford's extra-point attempt was blocked leaving the Spartans with a 14-13 deficit. Prior to Romine's 1-yard touchdown run, Crawford had a chance to give San Jose State its first lead of the game, but his 36-yard field goal attempt hit the right upright and bounced to the ground.
The teams traded 40-plus yard field goals to close the third-quarter scoring. Air Force's Drew Oehrle was good from 45 yards and Austin Lopez came in and converted from 42 yards on the next possession to keep the score close at 17-16.
San Jose State played the fourth quarter without linebacker and team captain Christian Tago who was injured as a result of a personal foul for targeting by Air Force wide receiver Tyler Williams. Tago, who led all players with a single-game best 14 tackles, was able to walk off the field after being down for several minutes and Williams was ejected.
After that play, Air Force's offense consisted of 21 running plays and no pass attempts for 184 yards and Johnson's three touchdowns.
San Jose State looks to bounce back next Saturday at Oregon State in a September 19 game at Reser Stadium. Kickoff is at 5:00 p.m.