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Takeaways: Bright spots not enough as Air Force falls to Boise State

The Falcons fall to 1-2 despite rumbling to 415 yards on the ground.

NCAA Football: Boise State at Air Force Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

It’s safe to say that the dominant win over Navy is firmly in the rearview mirror at this point. After a shocking defeat to the San Jose State Spartans (who are 2-0 behind a massive game from Nick Starkel), the Falcons knew they faced a tough test with Boise State coming to town. So how would they respond?

Before the game, the Broncos ruled out starting quarterback Hank Bachmeier for the day, but offered no reason as to why. While that should have been good news for the Falcons, Boise State’s Jack Sears had other ideas.

Just ten seconds into the first quarter, Sears connected with CT Thomas for a long, soul-crushing 75-yard touchdown. Air Force wasn’t deterred, however, as the Falcons battered their way to touchdowns on each of their first two drives. Brandon Lewis punched in the first score from seven yards out, and Matthew Murla extended the lead to 14-7 with a one-yard score.

Unfortunately, Air Force lost starting quarterback Haaziq Daniels in the process, and it was up to Warren Bryan to take over for the rest of the game. Daniels did return to the sideline with his helmet during the contest, though he never returned.

Boise State responded with two touchdown drives of its own, while the Falcons only connected on a 31-yard Tevye Schuettpelz-Rohl field goal to go into the half down 28-17.

The second half kicked off with a pair of punts and a missed Falcons field goal before the Broncos got back on the board with yet another Jack Sears to CT Thomas touchdown. Air Force managed to respond yet again with a 4:30, 75-yard drive capped off by a Matthew Murla touchdown run.

For one brief, shining moment, the lead was back down to 11 points, and then Avery Williams returned Brice Honaker’s kickoff 88 yards for a touchdown. The Broncos then forced another punt and followed up with another touchdown to open the margin to 49-24. Air Force wasn’t quite done, as Bo Gross pulled the Falcons to their final score of 49-30.

Overall, Jack Sears finished 17-for-20 with 280 yards and 3 touchdowns for the Broncos. Andrew Van Buren led the way on the ground with 70 yards and two scores, and Sears added one more rushing touchdown for good measure.

On the Air Force side, Warren Bryan and Ben Brittain combined for four completions for 69 yards and no touchdowns. Brandon Lewis and Elija Robinson led the way on the ground, each with 10 touches. Lewis managed 112 yards and a score while Robinson chipped in 90 yards of his own. Warren Bryan also rushed 19 times for 87 yards.


Fly zone

There’s something to be said when a defensive secondary calls itself a no-fly zone. Unfortunately, Air Force does not have that secondary. After a long touchdown allowed against Navy and over 200 yards allowed to Nick Starkel, the Falcons were right back in the hole, giving up 280 and three scores to Jack Sears and the Broncos.

Although the Falcons are starting juniors and seniors across the secondary, they don’t seem to have much luck containing opposing passing offenses. Elisha Palm, Ethan Erickson, and Corvan Taylor once again led the team in stops, but it doesn’t seem to be enough.

On the bright side, the Falcons might have an easier outing against Army next weekend, as the Black Knights figure to run the ball just as much as Air Force does.

Next man up

Troy Calhoun began the week by saying that Brandon Lewis was unlikely to make the switch from wide receiver to running back. This proved to be opposite of the truth, as Lewis took charge of the next man up mentality, leading the team on the ground. He’s not the only Falcon who had to step up either, as Warren Bryan took the reins from Haaziq Daniels and Matthew Murla was pressed into action for Timothy Jackson.

It’s encouraging to see a number of young Air Force players not only enter featured roles, but find success. While the result wasn’t what Falcon fans hoped for, there’s something to be said for any team that achieves 415 yards on the ground.

What’s next?

It’s Army hate week, baby. The Falcons are back in action next Saturday against the Black Knights in Michie Stadium at 11:30 a.m. ET. They look to get their season back on track and wrap up the Commander-in-Chief’s trophy against 6-1 Army.