Today, the University of Colorado’s football team showed up to a test they couldn’t study for.
At the start of the game, it was time for Air Force to make good on all of their promises of improvement over the last year, but there wasn’t a whole lot of concrete evidence for Colorado to work with. Of course, they knew to expect a triple option service academy team, but there was no way to anticipate such a dynamic offense with only a Colgate game with no passes to look to. For a brief moment, it looked like Air Force was perhaps the same old 5-7 team of the last two seasons.
Colorado took a big chunk of the first quarter on an 11-play, 5:23 touchdown drive. Steven Montez shredded the Air Force secondary in congruence with Alex Fontenot and Jaren Mangham’s bullish running game.
It seemed like Air Force was in for a long day when they got the ball back and almost immediately turned it over on a helmet-on-football fumble by Taven Birdow. This time, however, Colorado only managed a field goal.
Then Air Force seemed to wake up. Donald Hammond III threw his first passes of the season, Kadin Remsberg and Taven Birdow kept their head down on the run and Geraud Sanders reeled in a pass for a 32 yard touchdown. Then, a missed PAT left Air Force with a four point deficit, 10-6.
Air Force held CU back from scoring again and went up 13-10 over Colorado. The Falcons seemed to find their groove.
Air Force’s defense then held strong and forced a CU punt which led the way for a two-play drive, capped off by an 81 yard pass and run by Benjamin Waters for a touchdown. At 20-10, Air Force marched down the field in the final moments of the first half and tragically threw an interception to head into the locker room.
At halftime, Air Force had every reason to be confident. Everything was working, but they also had to be prepared for Colorado to make adjustments just as they did last week against Nebraska.
In the third quarter, both teams looked painfully stale. A Kade Remsberg fumble ended Air Force’s opening drive and the rest of the quarter was played out with back and forth punts.
In the fourth quarter, Jake Koehnke nailed a 47 yard field goal to put Air Force up 23-10. At this point, Troy Calhoun had to be ready for the attack that Colorado had against Nebraska which led them to an overtime win. Even if Calhoun knew it was coming, he didn’t have an answer. Steven Montez marched his offense down the field and sliced up the Air Force defense leading to a touchdown, but then, Jordan Jackson made a huge block on the PAT. 23-16.
Then Air Force punted after a -4 yard drive. Another CU touchdown followed. Tie ball game. 23-23. After not much excitement to finish the game. It was overtime.
Air Force struck first and Kade Remsberg ran in a gorgeous touchdown along the right sideline and dove in for the touchdown. PAT good, then it was time to see what the Air Force defense could do.
Colorado pulled out all the stops. Steven Montez targeted all of his recievers, Laviska Shenault and Alex Fontenot both took carries. They got a first down, but the game ended on an incomplete pass from Montez to Shenault.
Air Force Standouts
There was no shortage of Falcon stars in todays game. Donald Hammond’s arm has been secretive and kept under wraps until today. He has a noticeably improved throwing motion that really cannot be described as anything other than sublime. He completed 7 of 12 passes for 155 yards, two passing touchdowns and one rushing, not to mention his masterful performance in the triple option which cannot be quantified by looking at his stats alone.
Kade has unbelievable vision, speed, and patience. The highlight of the game for him was his lightning fast run that won Air Force the game in overtime. It was his lone touchdown of the day, but arguably the most clutch. He carried the ball 23 times for 146 yards.
Milton Bugg III is backing up every promise that was made about his improvements. While Zane Lewis has been the steady, consistent player on defense, Tre has been making some massive plays and his interception led to a critical touchdown.
The 6’5” defensive lineman prevented Colorado from winning in regulation with his extra point block. As a key member to Air Force’s defense, this was the icing on the cake in an outstanding game.
I could easily name another 10 players that were key to the win. Jake Koehnke’s field goal, Jeremy Fejedelem’s defense, Geraud Sander’s 56 receiving yards on 4 catches, Benjamin Waters’ two catches for 92 yards, and Taven Birdow’s running all added up to an Air Force win.
A Light Review
There’s a lot to unpack here. First of all, the keys to game are critical to look at. Air Force won the possession battle. They had the ball for 34:04. Air Force lost the turnover battle with two lost fumbles and an interception. In my opinion, the play-calling and execution was not perfect. Air Force left three points minimum on field going into the half with an interception on 2nd and goal.
So how did they do it? Air Force’s defense let the offense play. Donald Hammond was allowed to take more risks because the might of Jeremy Fejedelem, Lakota Wills, Jordan Jackson, and Tre Bugg gave the Falcons security. That’s a powerful concept. When you can take shots at the end zone and don’t have to worry as much about the opposition’s field position, you’re operating ahead of the curve. This was a team win with a lot of highlights, but the Falcons seem to trust each other and are having a great time.
This team is dangerous, but this was a pre-test. It was an out of conference game that gave the birds a shot of much-needed, real confidence. Now we have a short week before playing Boise State. Humble confidence is critical. At 2-0, Air Force may have just set the table for something big.