So, I might have mentioned once or twice that I hate playing Air Force. Like, primally. I hate it with the fire of one thousand wedgies. This game sucks on ice. It should not be. So, OF COURSE the Broncos had to pull a win from their proverbial nethers in Colorado Springs tonight. It started as well as a game against Air Force could and ended as only a game against Air Force can. Alas, Broncos SURVIVE.
The first quarter got off to a rather inauspicious start, with the Broncos receiving the kick and having a 40 yard Taylen Green scamper negated due to penalty (remember those flags…they’ll be back) and they ended up having to punt after a few modest gains. Thankfully, Air Force went NOWHERE on their first drive of the evening…with Tyreque Jones sniffing out the option pass perfectly and the Falcons punting their own first touch away. The next drive for the Broncos was much better…chewed up lots of yards, had some big plays and of course, ended with an Ashton Jeanty TD run (Holani was dinged up…that will ALSO be back).
On Air Force’s next possession, more nothing and even moreso as the Broncos forced an errant pitch that we recovered in Falcon territory. Unfortunately, the Broncos could not get in the endzone, but a Dalmas FG gave them a 10-0 lead and it looked like they were rolling. AFA finished the first quarter without a single first down and couldn’t establish their legendary run game either. Things looking UP.
The second quarter the Broncos traded Falcon punts for field goals and several started to wonder out loud if perhaps we should be finishing the drives with TDs instead? I mean, no way that would ever haunt us, right? Okay…hang on. The Broncos would push their lead to 16-0 (more FGs) before Air Force finally got on the board with a TD of their own set up by a 37 yard reception to a wide open receiver (that never happens against Air Force!). Anyhoo, Broncos tack on another FG and it’s 19-7 at the break. No matter, Broncos are a 2nd half team now, remember?
Falcons start with the ball but the Broncos defense came to play and forces the early punt. Now, the Bronco offense appears to be rolling after a couple nice tosses from Taylen Green, who seems to have found some pocket presence and gotten a little hazy on the whole “chewing up 5 yards per stride” end arounds, but we’re splitting hairs. The Broncos look like they’re ready to score again to start the 2nd half when an actually beautiful throw from Green to Stefan Cobbs deep in Falcon territory is tipped in the air after a BRUTAL hit on Cobbs. Seriously, it was a beautiful throw and Cobbs was open (I know!). The Falcon defender made a great play and the promising Bronco drive ends in pain. Boredom ensues as neither team finds the end zone or another FG in the 3rd quarter. Two score game remains.
Here’s where it gets “interesting”. More hot punting action started the 4th with the Broncos killing several promising drives with idiotic penalties. Real unforced error types. Refs gonna fight us too, eh? Well, DID YOU SEE THAT REF?! So, with not much time remaining in the sudden back and forth contest, the Falcons get a big 24 yard first down reception, but guess what? It wasn’t a reception. At least, it might not have been if the officiating crew had been as concerned with balls hitting the turf as they were about pancake and low blocks. Air Force hurries up…and Haaziq Daniels scampers around the end for a 27 yard gain. Huh…that no-review looming large? OUTRAGEOUS. You’ll never guess, the Falcons scored on the drive. It’s now 19-14 and I’m not coping well. Little did I know, I was about to empty all the Pepto bottles in the house (we have a few).
Boise State’s defense steps up…forces an Air Force punt with roughly 5 minutes remaining. Cool…Broncos can run out the clock—wait, where’s Jeanty?! We all realize at once we haven’t seen our freshman bowling ball in a while and now Holani is in street clothes. AWESOME. No matter, let’s kill some clock and ice this thing. Wait, why are the officials all meeting? What’s going on? Wait…what?! The crew ran back that Falcon punt and lo and behold, Mr. Latrell Caples receives the punt with Mr. Zeke Noa on block team. Slight problem—they both wear #7 (remember the countdown?). PROCEDURAL penalty on the punt gives the Falcons a FIRST DOWN. They now have 4ish minutes to score and ice this one and yeah, it kinda looks like they’re gonna until a 4th and medium turns into a 4th and 13 on a Falcon holding penalty (they can be called for penalties too?!). The 4th and 13 pass is knocked down by who else…Zeke Noa and this time he was the only #7 on the field.
Minute and a half remains, Broncos have the ball in own territory. Get a first down and this one is over. First down play goes for MINUS four yards as Elelyon Noa is blown up in backfield. 2nd down down frun from Noa nets only 3, so it’s 3rd and 11 with the game literally on the line. Not good. UNTIL Taylen Green recalls he’s a pretty decent runner himself and fakes the Noa handoff and scampers for 15 to get the first down and ice the game. Broncos 19, Air Force 14. Egad.
Not always a “win’s a win” guy, but wins in Colorado Springs don’t come easy. Especially with top two RBs down and the refs (and Aaron Taylor) drinking Falcon Berry Blast Kool-Aid. Broncos are 4-0 in conference somehow and this insane stretch we saw approaching a month ago has the Broncos in first place in the Mountain Division and the only undefeated MWC squad. One more win and they’re bowl eligible for the 83rd straight year (or something). Did you think that was in the cards after UTEP? Be honest.
Final stats via ESPN.