ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — D.J. Hammond III threw for career highs with 327 yards and four touchdowns as Air Force took to the skies more than normal Saturday to beat New Mexico 44-22.
The Falcons (9-2, 6-1 in Mountain West) have their best record since 1998.
Hammond, who completed nine of 10 passes, is the first Falcons quarterback to exceed 300 yards since 1989 and it was the most yards since 1976, while his four touchdowns were the most since 2006. He also added a rushing score.
Two receivers made all of Air Force’s receptions with Benjamin Waters catching four for 171 yards and two touchdowns and Geraud Sanders catching five for 156 yards and two scores. For good measure, Taven Birdow rushed for 110 yards and a touchdown for Air Force.
Before being hurt in the third quarter, Tevaka Tuioti rushed for 79 yards, and his replacement Trae Hall, threw for two touchdowns for the Lobos (2-9, 0-6).
With a field goal shortly before half, New Mexico trailed just 14-10.
Hall, who entered the game midway through third quarter Tuioti injured his leg, completed his first collegiate pass for a 13-yard touchdown to Jordan Kress, the Lobos trailed 21-16.
The extra point attempt, however, caromed off a New Mexico player and Milto Bugg III returned it for a Falcons’ two-point play, marking the first time the Lobos have surrendered such a special teams score.
Air Force then poured it on, scoring three straight touchdowns through the air.
The game was originally scheduled for Nov. 9, but New Mexico defensive end Nahje Flowers’ death Nov. 5 led conference officials to reschedule the game to a date that both schools had open.
Air Force: The win over New Mexico won’t exactly boost the Falcons’ RPI, and likely won’t nudge them up beyond their unofficial ranking of 30th, but it is a sixth consecutive win and keeps Air Force’s hopes of a earning a three-way tie with Boise State and Utah State in the conference’s Mountain Division as the latter two met late Saturday. All three close the regular season with members of the bottom half of the division and all will be favored to win.
New Mexico: The Lobos are playing out the string with an eight-game losing streak. During that stretch, New Mexico has lost by less than double digits just once: the first game of the streak, a 17-10 loss to Liberty.
Air Force finishes the regular season Saturday at home against Wyoming.
The Lobos finishes the regular season Saturday at Utah State.
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