Falcons finish season 7-5, defeat CSU 45-21

  • Published
  • By Leslie Finstein
  • U.S. Air Force Academy Public Affairs
The U.S. Air Force Academy Falcons soared to a 45-21 victory on a cold Saturday night Nov. 26 against the Rams of Colorado State University here.

The win brings the Falcons to 7-5-0 overall for the 2011 season and bowl eligible for the fifth consecutive year. This is also the first time in school history that the Falcons have had five consecutive seven-win seasons.

The Academy moves to 30-19-1 all-time against CSU. The Ram-Falcon trophy, awarded to the winner of this front-range rivalry, will remain in Colorado Springs for the sixth straight year.

In the first quarter, Air Force moved quickly up the field on their first drive only to lose possession with a fumble in CSU territory. The Rams then went on a 12-play, 87-yard drive to score their first opening drive touchdown since Sept. 10.

The game started to turn around for the Falcons after the defense made a key stop late in the first quarter with a sack by linebacker Alex Means. Means leads the team in sacks this year.
Quarterback Tim Jefferson led the Falcons on a 2:30, five-play, 73-yard drive that led to a touchdown on a 33-yard reception by wide receiver Zach Kauth, early in the second quarter.

After that the Falcons defense got rolling, keeping the Rams off the score board for the rest of the half.

Jefferson connected with Kauth two more times, on a 40- and 50-yard passes respectively, giving the senior wide receiver his first 100-yard game of his career and his first three-touchdown game.

Almost exactly five minutes after the second Jefferson-to-Kauth touchdown, kicker Parker Harrington tacked on three more points with a 22-yard field goal.

Air Force went into halftime up 31-7 on a 12-yard rushing touchdown from junior running back Cody Getz, his first touchdown this season.

The second quarter was the third highest squaring quarter for the Falcon's this season and ties as the third most in school history.

"We hit a couple of big plays, the two throws to Zach Kauth were huge," said Academy Head Football Coach Troy Calhoun about the second quarter. "And the defense, I thought we were as stout as could be."

Air Force senior running back Asher Clark ran for 69 yards in the first half which put him more than 1,000 yards rushing on the season. Clark is the third player for Air Force ever to go over 1,000 yards twice in his career and the second player ever to do it in back-to-back seasons.

In the second half, CSU scored on a run by sophomore running back Chris Nwoke making the score 31-14 Air Force. Nwoke had more than 200 yards rushing in the game, giving him more than 1,000 on the season. Nwoke is the seventh player in CSU history to break 1,000 yards as a sophomore or younger.

"He's good," said Calhoun of Nwoke. "He's powerful, hard to tackle, and there were times that he hit us."

Air Force responded quickly to CSU's score with a rushing touchdown by junior running back Mike Dewitt. Air Force took a 38-14 lead into the fourth quarter.

Clark rushed more than 100 yards for the game, capping off a touchdown drive for the Falcons early in the fourth quarter, putting up Air Force 45-14.

Late in the fourth quarter, CSU's Nwoke got a second rushing touchdown to cap off an 11-play, 80-yard drive. Nwoke ran for more than 260 yards in the game. That would be the last scoring drive of the game. Jefferson took a knee to close out the Air Force victory.

With three touchdown passes, Air Force matched a team record set in 1977.

Clark finished the game with 111 yards, 33-yards shy of setting the all-time Academy rushing yards record held by Dee Dowis (1986-89). Now that the Falcons are bowl-eligible, Clark could have one more opportunity to overtake Dowls.

When it comes to bowls, the Falcons, even with their winning record, could be on the outside looking in. The Mountain West conference has five bowl-eligible teams, Texas Christian University, Boise State University, the University of Wyoming, San Diego State University and now Air Force, and only four bowls.

Mountain West teams are eligible for the New Mexico Bowl on Dec. 17; the Poinsettia Bowl in San Diego on Dec. 21; the Las Vegas Bowl on Dec. 22; and the Independence Bowl in Shreveport, La., on Dec. 26.

The Bowl Championship Series distorts the bowl picture for the Falcons as well. TCU and Boise State are both still alive in the hunt and have outside shots at slipping into a BCS bowl. This week, TCU is No. 20 and Boise State is No. 7 in the BCS rankings. With a number of games left to be played, the BCS and most of the other bowl berths are undecided.

Bowl berths will be officially announced Dec. 4.