By Don Branum, Air Force Academy Public Affairs
U.S. AIR FORCE ACADEMY, Colo. (AFNS) --
Air Force kept pace with the powerful Boise State Broncos in the
first half but ran out of gas in the second, allowing Boise State to
stampede to a 42-20 win at Bronco Stadium Sept. 13.
defense stopped Boise State on two drives, including one fumble inside
the Air Force 10 and an interception at the goal line, but the Broncos
marched uncontested into the end zone on every other possession.
team could stop the other in the first half, turning the game into an
offensive shootout. Sophomore quarterback Jaleel Awini kept Air Force in
the game during the first half with back-to-back runs of 16 and 20
yards to set up a 7-0 lead in the first quarter. He hit receiver Sam
Gagliano in the second quarter with a 53-yard strike, moving the Falcons
to a 10-7 lead on the leg of kicker Will Conant. Conant, a junior out
of Edmond, Okla., has a perfect record so far this season.
teams traded touchdowns, with Boise State running out the clock on its
last drive of the first half to take a 21-17 lead going into the locker
room. Its defensive adjustments at halftime ensured the Falcons wouldn't
see the end zone again.
Air Force receivers dropped key passes
in the second half, including a pass intended for Gagliano that Awini
threaded between two Boise State defenders in the third quarter. The
Broncos receiving unit had no such trouble: Joe Southwick went 27-of-29
on the evening, with his only interception coming from a pass that
bounced off an Air Force defender's helmet and into the hands of Air
Force's Christian Spears.
Air Force, trailing the Broncos 28-17,
needed to turn the interception into a touchdown. The Broncos made sure
they didn't get it, stopping one of the nation's most prolific run
offenses at the goal line and stuffing Ty McArthur for a 4-yard loss on
third and goal. Conant made his second kick of the night to bring the
Falcons within eight; if Air Force's defense could stop Southwick on
Boise State's next drive, the Falcons could get back into the contest.
Southwick dissected the Air Force secondary, throwing passes of 33
yards and 20 yards before handing the ball off to Jay Ajayi for a
nine-yard rushing touchdown. Ajayi's run gave the Broncos a 35-20 lead
with less than five minutes to play.
Awani attempted to force a
pass into coverage on Air Force's next possession. Boise State's Darian
Thompson came away with the interception near midfield, setting up a
2-yard rushing touchdown by Ajayi that put the game away.
Force head coach Troy Calhoun said he was pleased with the progress he
saw since the Utah State game Sept. 7 but that there's still a lot of
room to improve.
"We had two drives inside the 20, and for us
those need to be touchdowns, not field goals," Calhoun said. "But that's
a credit to Boise State, too."
On the team, the outlook was similarly optimistic despite the loss.
stopped us when they needed to, and that made the difference in the
game," Awani said. "We're going to keep going, keep working hard. Air
Force's season isn't over yet."
Air Force, now 1-2 (0-2 Mountain
West), faces the Wyoming Cowboys at home for their next game. The
Cowboys are likely to come into the game with chips on their shoulders
after a close loss to Air Force in 2012: Wyoming head coach Wayne
Christensen exchanged heated words with Calhoun after that game,
accusing him of faking an injury to set up Kyle Pearson's go-ahead
Kickoff is scheduled for Sept. 21 at 8:15 p.m.