Air Force Beats BYU, 35-14

Air Force took advantage of the three BYU turnovers to beat the Cougars.

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Blogger Reaction To BYU's Loss To Air Force

SB Nation's BYU blog Vanquish The Foe discusses the details that led Air Force to beating BYU on Saturday:

As I said coming into this game, Air Force was not tested in their first week, and I knew there would be some new gadget plays this week that would test BYU's discipline.  Test failed.  While it didn't take trick plays to beat us, Air Force scored on three gadget plays against the Cougars today, and there is no excuse for any of them working.   But let's talk about what set it all up.

When you face Air Force's option, job #1 is stopping the fullback on the dive play.  It is critical to take away the dive as an option and string plays out to the sideline.  We did not stop the dive at all today.  Jared Tew, the Falcon fullback, averaged 4.5 yards a carry today.  Our defensive line was getting pushed back fairly consistently and our middle linebackers were overrunning the dive angle.  This is a bad combo that led big chunks up the middle. 

The fullback dive is the key to any option offense since it can become a boring game for the defense, and after multiple dives the secondary and linebackers bite on a fake and then it is too late for them to recover because it could be a pass play or an option to the outside.

BYU's defense did lose some good players on that side of the ball from last year and highly touted freshman linebacker Zac Stout saw his first significant time against Air Force and seemed lost.  The key to managing an offense like Air Force is to play disciplined football.

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VIDEO: Highlights Of Air Force's 35-14 Win Over BYU

Here are the game highlights in Air Force's win over BYU.

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Air Force Ends Losing Streak To BYU, 35-14

USAFA, CO (Sports Network) - Mikel Hunter registered a pair of touchdowns as the Air Force Falcons surprised the BYU Cougars, 35-14, in Mountain West Conference action at Falcon Stadium.

Hunter finished the day with 53 yards rushing on just two carries for the Falcons (2-0, 1-0 MWC) as they snapped a six-game slide in the series with the Cougars (1-1, 0-1). Asher Clark accounted for a game-high 121 yards rushing for an Air Force team that logged 409 yards on 65 attempts. Quarterback Tim Jefferson converted 5-of-13 passing for 68 yards and a score, to go along with one interception and a sack.

The Cougars were paced by Riley Nelson who converted 8-of-19 passing for 73 yards and also gained 95 yards and scored once on the ground in the losing effort.

Getting the Cougars off on the right foot early in the first quarter was JJ DiLuigi who hit the end zone on a one-yard run, capping a 12-play, 74-yard drive and giving the visitors a 7-0 lead.

Countering for the Falcons, Jefferson combined with Hunter on a 37-yard TD pass play to lock the score at 7-7 barely a minute later.

Nelson put the Cougars back on top with a four-yard TD run with 2:29 to play in the first frame, but that would be the end of the offense for BYU.

In the second quarter a five-yard TD run by Jefferson and a 33-yard scramble by Hunter put the Falcons ahead by a score of 21-14 at the break.

Jon Warzeka contributed with a 46-yard TD run in the third and Nathan Walker accounted for a five-yard scoring burst in the fourth to cap off a 28-point scoring spree for the Falcons as they cruised to the 21-point victory.

BYU finished the outing with 309 yards of total offense, but the squad ran 19 fewer offensive plays than the Falcons.

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Halftime: Air Force 21-BYU 14

The key stat of the first half comes in the turnover department as BYU has two fumbles and an interception thrown by Jake Heaps where Air Force has zero turnovers. Of the three turnovers Air Force was able to convert one into the go ahead touchdown late in the first half. There is no surprise that Air Force is out rushing BYU, but the Falcons are also have more passing yards then the two BYU quarterbacks combined; 68 to 47.

The BYU offense is running much better when Riley Nelson is in the game because his ability to run allows him to extend the play, where Jake Heaps is not the elusive type. In the first half Nelson leads all with 69 yards and with J.J. Di Luigi has 66 yards.

The best player in the game looks to be Air Force quarterback Tim Jefferson who has 68 passing yards -- one that includes a 38 yard touchdown pass -- while running for only four yards. The ability of Jefferson to throw the ball is keeping the Air Force offense that is traditionally heavy on the run is now able to be more balanced which opens up both their running and passing. The only real concern for Air Force is the amount of penalties they accumulated in the first half. They racked up eight penalties for 95 yards with four of those being the big 15 yard penalties.

Air Force gets the ball to start the second half, and one thing to look for is if BYU will stick to Riley Nelson at quarterback over Jake Heaps since he has been the better of the two today.

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Air Force And BYU Both Score Quickly On Their First Possession

So much for defense in this game as both squads march down the field in their first possession and score touchdowns. In the first series BYU's quarterback Riley Nelson drove down the field at ease and lead the Cougars to an early 7-0. BYU used their running game to attack the Falcon defense and ran the ball on nine of their twelve plays for 53 yards, with Riley Nelson rushing for 47 of those yards as well completing a key 16 yard pass which put BYU on the one yard line. Then on the proceeding play J.J. DiLuigi punched the ball in from the one to put BYU up 7-0.

Air Force proceeded to take the ball and score in five plays with Air Force's Tim Jefferson throwing a 37 yard strike to Mikel Hunter. Passing is a bit of a novelty at Air Force, but the touchdown was set up by running back Asher Clark rushing twice for 35 yards on the drive.

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Air Force Is Going To Wear Special Decals In Remembrance of 9/11

In today's Air Force game in addition to the pregame ceremony the team will be wearing special decals on their helmet in remembrance of 9/11.  The traditional blue lightning bold will be replaced by the one below with an American flag theme, plus other decals honoring the police and fire fighters who helped out on that tragic day.

 

Images via The Colorado Springs Gazette

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Twenty-Five Years Ago BYU Stopped Air Force's Bid For A National Title

Today's game against BYU and Air Force is the last scheduled game between the two since BYU is now going independent, so it is as good a time as any to revisit the 1985 game that halted Air Force's bid for a national title in 1985. 1984 was the last time that a team not from a current BCS league won a national title, and that team was BYU.

What a lot of people do not know is how close the 1985 Air Force team was to also winning a national championship. Twenty-five years ago Air Force was set to play BYU and the Falcons were fourth in the country and were on pace to play Penn State in the Fiesta Bowl and with a Falcon win they would have been national champions. Air Force had just two games left on the schedule before a potential national title chance; this BYU game and then a game against Hawaii. It is not that Air Force lost the game, but it was how they lost since they started out with a bug 21-7 half time lead:

Part of the lingering pain is how the BYU game started. Just 20 seconds after Falcons running back Randy Jones caught a 22-yard touchdown pass, Tom Rotello returned a Robbie Bosco interception 25 yards for a touchdown. Less than three minutes into the game Air Force led 14-0. Weiss said he thought the team was shocked to start that well. Another interception return helped Air Force to a 21-7 halftime lead.

Air Force had the game in hand and only needed to beat Hawaii for their shot at a national title.  The quarterback of that team, Col. Bartholomew W. Weiss, thought about that time quite often once he left the Academy:

"Oh sure, especially the first 10 years I thought about it," said Weiss, the quarterback of the 1985 team. "I don't think there was a day or week, especially in fall, when I didn't. To a man, the guys on that team think about what would've, could've happened."

That season was still a great success as the Falcons ended the season 12-1 by beating Texas in the Bluebonnet bowl and ended up eighth in the polls.

Today's game does not have that same meaning for the Falcons, but this team on paper looks to be one of the best teams in a long time at Air Force.  Plus, a win over BYU would put them on track to be in the top three of the Mountain West once the season ends.

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Air Force Will Have A 9/11 Ceremony Prior To Saturday's Game

Saturday marks the ninth anniversary of the attacks on the World Trade Center in New York City, and the Air Force Falcons will be having a special ceremony prior to Saturday's game:

Air Force decided to have a remembrance ceremony before Saturday's football game on the ninth anniversary of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, and it went all out. Detective Steve Hayden, a New York police officer, and FDNY firefighter Ken Haskell will be honorary game captains.

There will not be another event in this country, other than New York City, in a stadium that will compare to it," said Mike Simler, son of George Simler, who lauded Air Force for its efforts in putting the event together.

The stories behind the flags show how every detail was considered. The flag from Afghanistan will be carried out by a Falcons player as he leads the team out of the tunnel. Air Force will not reveal who will get that honor.

The other flag -- which will be parachuted in-- is one that has actually flown over the World Trade Center site on September 2nd prior to this game.

The September 11, 2001 attacks made an impact on current Air Force quarterback Tim Jefferson who decided to pursue military service because of those events:

"I decided to join the military in part because of 9/11," Jefferson said. "I thought it was a special place, that somebody needs to step up to it. I felt like I owed something to my country. I get to live here and be protected by servicemen who are fighting for our country and giving their lives overseas. I felt it was a way I could give back."

Jefferson said he didn't have a sudden revelation to go to Air Force on Sept. 11, 2001, but he kept coming back to the possibility over the next few years. He proudly speaks about representing Air Force on Saturday. Before and during the game, men and women who have served the country will be recognized.

"After the fact, when you look back in the coming years, realizing that this game meant so much more than the game of football, I don't know how to describe it," Jefferson said. "In a couple years, I'll have the words then."

This pregame ceremony will be a special one for all of those in attendance but possibly even more for the current football players on the Air Force roster, because once they are done playing football they will be doing their part to serve our country. 

So, enjoy the game and if you get the chance tune into Versus and hopefully the will show something from this ceremony.

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Air Force Defensive Back Reggie Rembert Is Back At Practice After Suffering A Neck Injury Saturday

Air Force is gearing up for a much anticipated against BYU and they may be without defensive back Reggie Rembert who is part of a secondary that is one of the best in the Mountain West.  In the season opening game against Northwestern State Rembert was carted of the field after suffering a neck injury in the first half.  On Sunday he was considered doubtful but Rembert participated in today's practice wearing a red no-contact jersey:

Calhoun said Rembert didn't hit anyone, so he didn't want to put too much stock into him returning to practice. Calhoun would not speculate on Rembert's chances of playing, and didn't display much optimism in his comments. Then again, Calhoun also wasn't publicly optimistic Rembert would practice this week.

"He's got a ways to go," Calhoun said after practice. "We'll see."

This is great news for Air Force that Rembert was able to be on the field for Saturday's game, as was it a good sign to see his counterpart Anthony Wright, Jr practicing at full speed after suffering a minor rib injury on Saturday.

These two players are key to Air Force winning this game since BYU plans on using their two quarterback system -- which they used to defeat Washington -- with Riley Nelson and heralded true freshman Jake Heaps.  With the way Air Force head coach is pumping up Jake Heaps these two defensive backs better play:

"I think [Jake Heaps] is a slam-dunk (NFL) first round pick. He's as slam dunk as it gets. I think he's more talented than any QB they've ever had there."

That is a bit of a stretch, but Heaps was the number one rated quarterback per Rivals in last years recruiting class.

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