You can't be a great team unless you face adversity and overcome it.
Air Force used its triple option to confuse the vaunted Boise State defense and give the Broncos their toughest test so far this year before falling 37-26 yesterday afternoon at the Homecoming Game in Bronco Stadium.
“They are a very complete football team in all regards. They are obviously very good on defense, as consistently as they play week in and week out. They are superb on offense; they have a great back, good receivers, excellent offensive line and a dynamite quarterback," said Air Force head coach Troy Calhoun.
Boise State quarterback Kellen Moore was 23-29 for 281 yards and three touchdowns and cannonball running back Doug Martin ran for 125 yards and two scores as the #5 Broncos advanced their record to 7-0 and won their 35th consecutive home game. In the process, there were some monumental achievements.
Moore tied Colt McCoy of Texas as the winningest starting quarterback in NCAA history with his 45th career win at Boise State (he is 45-2). With his second touchdown pass of the afternoon, a 19-yard strike to freshman Matt Miller, Moore passed former BYU quarterback Ty Detmer for fourth all-time with his 122nd; Moore finished the game with 123. Kellen also passed a couple of former Louisiana Tech stars--Luke McCown and Tim Rattay to advance to fifth in college football history with 12,877 career passing yards. Moore went over 1,000 career completions and now has 1,005.
Martin scored on a 15-yard run up the middle to give Boise State a 27-13 lead with five minutes left in the third. But this group of Broncos had never seen an option attack (unlike the rest of Air Force's foes) and the Falcons came back with a nice 80-yard drive of their own with Asher Clark taking it in from three yards out. Air Force came into the game with the nation's #3 rushing attack.
“It’s a good scheme," said Bronco coach Chris Petersen. "There’s just a lot of different answers to it in terms of running the ball…It’s a little bit of a cat-andmouse game and (quarterback Tim) Jefferson is a heck of a guy running that offense, and then he can throw.”
Mike DeWitt gained 108 yards on 18 carries as Air Force totaled 265 yards on 65 attempts and dominated time of possession with over 36 minutes of ball control.
That meant that Boise State had to be perfect when the Bronco offense did get the ball and they generally were, except for a fumble in the red zone and an incomplete pass in the end zone that was overruled by replay officials and called an interception. One key play was when Moore scrambled and found Martin alone in the end zone for Boise State's final touchdown that put them up 34-20. Hunter White made another when he stuffed a fake punt attempt, caused a fumble and then picked up the loose ball to score from 16 yards out and put Boise State ahead 20-7 late in the second quarter.
Air Force came back in the fourth with a 51-yard pass from Tim Jefferson to Zack Kauth that gave the Falcons a first-and-goal at the three. Two plays later, Jefferson scored on a keeper. Bronco defensive end Tyrone Crawford blocked the point-after attempt, and Boise State nearly scored a two-point conversion on one of the game's thrilling plays that involved several laterals (ala Cal-Stanford in "The Game") and saw the Broncos advance the ball to the Air Force 35.
When Tyler Shoemaker recovered the onside kick, Moore drove his team within field goal range and Dan Goodale put the game out of reach with a 25-yard field goal.
Shoemaker nearly finished with another 100-yard receiving game, tallying four catches for 98 yards and a score. The Bronco senior wideout is now tied for 10th at Boise State with nine touchdown catches this season, and he tied Brock Forsey and Jay Swillie for 11th all-time with 17 career TD receptions. Miller led Boise State with five receptions for 67 yards and the other touchdown catch from Moore.
Linebacker Byron Hout was superb in filling gaps, racking up an incredible18 tackles on the afternoon. Safety George Iloka added a career-high 12 stops and a tackle for loss as the Bronco defensive starters played far more than in any game this season and penetrated for 10 tackles for loss. Tackle Billy Winn had a career-high six tackles, 2.5 for loss and half a sack. Fellow tackle Ricky Tjong-A-Tjoe had four stops, 1.5 tackles for loss and a sack in his first action of the season.
Jefferson finished 8-of-16 for 144 yards and 20 carries for 46 yards and two touchdowns in a fine afternoon for Air Force.
Boise State has next week off before traveling to Las Vegas for a game against UNLV November 5. Air Force plays at New Mexico next weekend.