Coaches always stress that it takes a full 60-minute effort to win a football game.
But it took just 15 minutes of play for CSU to lose on Saturday.
The Rams led the Air Force Academy 7-0 after the first quarter.
By halftime it was 31-7 AFA on the wings of three touchdown passes from Tim Jefferson to Zack Kauth.
â€œThey came back and threw the ball three times over our head,â€ safety Ivory Herd said of the second quarter. â€œIt cost us big. Like I said, it was our fault; it was a mistake.â€
The offensive explosion by AFA, which is usually led by the rushing game, was carried by the passing attack in the second quarter.
Jefferson first hit Kauth on a 33-yard TD pass. Then on a 40-yard TD. And that was followed by a 50-yard pass to Kauth to cap his career day.
â€œNot in a game before, no,â€ said Kauth when asked if he had ever had three TDâ€™s in a game. â€œThe most Iâ€™ve ever had was two in a game and that was against Colorado State, actually.â€
That continued a trend for Jefferson against CSU. In fact, if he played the Rams every week, he might be a Heisman Trophy candidate.
In wins in 2009 and 2010 Jefferson threw two touchdowns each game. And Saturday he threw for three touchdowns and completed 9-12 passes for 221 yards, an average of 25 yards per completion.
â€œThatâ€™s the worst part,â€ Herd said. â€œWe practiced for it all week on the pass. To have it still happen to you is pretty devastating.â€
And with the lead ballooning in the second quarter, that allowed AFA to go to its bread and butter in the second half.
The Falcons pounded the ball for much of the second half, racking up 176 rushing yards in the half and 344 for the game. AFA ended with six players averaging more than five yards per carry.
The game started as well as CSU could have wanted it.
The Rams forced a fumble on the opening AFA drive and capitalized when quarterback Garrett Grayson hit Byron Steele for a short touchdown reception.
But CSU could never recover from the second quarter onslaught.
By the fourth quarter, an announced crowd of 14,107 had dwindled to probably half of that.
The only thing left to see was how high up the CSU record books running back Chris Nwoke could climb.
CSU now faces the prospect of the season ending the way the 2010 year did when the Rams lost their last two games by a combined 93-10.
â€œObviously people are disappointed with our record, and they should be,â€ coach Steve Fairchild said. â€œIâ€™m disappointed. But I do think we have a lot of good players, and weâ€™ll get this thing going.â€
Assistant Sports Editor Kevin Lytle can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Final: Air Force: 45 CSU: 21
*Tim Jefferson-*9-12, 221 yards, 3 TD
*Zack Kauth-*3 rec., 123 yards, 3 TD
Up next: Saturday, noon vs. University of Wyoming