Broncos run away with 42-20 win over Falcons

  • Published
  • By Don Branum
  • Air Force Academy Public Affairs
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.

The Falcons' 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.

Neither 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.

The 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.

Instead, 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.

Air 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.

"They 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 touchdown.

Kickoff is scheduled for Sept. 21 at 8:15 p.m.