A day after the sports betting website and bookmaker, Bovada.lv, released opening odds for Air Force Coach Troy Calhoun to be the second most likely to be named the Kansas Jayhawks new head coach at +400, the Air Force Falcons dropped a contest to the Wyoming Cowboys in a stunning fashion.
The game in Laramie, Wyoming was snowy and frigid, seemingly a perfect condition for the Falcons to slow down the clock and power through the Cowboys’ defense with their blue collar brand of run-based football.
Wyoming lost their starting quarterback Sean Chambers, due to a leg injury on the opening drive, but both teams were able to trade touchdowns on their first two drives. With the score 14-14 early in the second quarter, Air Force was able to force Wyoming to punt, but the Falcons were only able to come away with a field goal on the following drive.
At the half, Air Force appeared to be in control, even if the scoreboard only showed a 17-14 lead. The snow was falling heavily and despite Wyoming’s defensive stars like Andrew Wingard and Carl Granderson, who have garnered NFL prospect talks, Air Force appeared as an unstoppable driving offensive machine. Donald Hammond captained the Air Force offense well and primarily ran the ball along with Kade Remsberg and Cole Fagan.
After a touchdown and a field goal to take Air Force up to 24-14 over Wyoming, there was a strong momentum shift. Wyoming marched down the field from their own 24 yard line to score a touchdown. Air Force punted away on the next drive allowing Wyoming to take their first lead of the game, 28-27. The punt came after the same questionable play-calling that has been synonymous with Air Force all season as Donald Hammond ran the ball on 3rd & 8 for a loss of two yards.
With 1:09 left in the game, Hammond threw a pass over the middle which was intercepted by Wyoming’s Logan Wilson. At this point, Air Force had two timeouts left and there was a chance that the Falcons could get the ball back with effective defense. However, a run up the middle from Wyoming’s Xazavian Valladay resulted in a 27 yard touchdown, but an offensive holding penalty left the Falcons with a decision to make. Coach Calhoun opted to decline the penalty. Even with the touchdown, the Falcons would receive the ball with 39 seconds left on the clock. As the Falcons began their final effort to drive down the field, Hammond threw an interception which allowed the Cowboys to run out the clock and win the game.
Both Wyoming and Air Force entered the game with a 4-6 record. Air Force needed to win their last three games of the season, all conference matchups, in order to have any mathematical shot at a bowl game. Those hopes are now out the window. At this point, it would be impossible to speculate what is going through the Air Force coaches’ and athletic department’s minds, but it is unclear if the fans will have a clear cut answer any time soon as to how they plan to move forward in the offseason. The Falcons are notoriously secretive about all of their personnel decisions and it is rare that they acknowledge the concerns of fans or alumni about the future of the football program in an honest and open manner.
The Falcons play their final game on Thanksgiving against Colorado State and as the Aggies almost upset the 23 ranked Utah State Aggies this evening, and although there’s not much to gain in an Air Force win aside from memories and bragging rights along Colorado’s Interstate 25, there’s no telling how the game will turn out.