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Air Force Takes Down CSU Rams to Break Losing Streak

by Graham Knight

After their heartbreaking overtime loss to Army in the Commanders' Classic, the Air Force Falcons turned their focus back to Mountain West Conference opponents to get back into the win column after going almost a month since notching their last W.


First up was the battle for the "Ram/Falcon Trophy" against the Colorado State Rams. It was a combination of playmakers -- and a historic pass -- that propelled the Falcons to the 35-21 mountain-high victory.


On their first possession, Air Force marched down the field in just five plays, thanks to junior wide receiver-turned-tailback DeAndre Hughes's 56-yard run that set up a 16-yard touchdown from sophomore John Lee Eldridge, III on his first carry of the season.


Following an interception by Air Force's Tre Bugg, III, the Falcons were back in. Junior fullback Brad Roberts carried the ball on seven out of the eight plays on the ensuing drive and scored from six yards out to make it 14-0 Falcons.

Air Force Falcons' senior defensive back Milton (Tre) Bugg, III returns the football after intercepting a pass from Colorado State University Rams' quarterback Todd Centeio during the Rams/Falcons Trophy game on November 13, 2021 at Canvas Stadium in Fort Collins, Colorado.
Air Force Falcons' senior defensive back Milton (Tre) Bugg, III returns the football after intercepting a pass from Colorado State University Rams' quarterback Todd Centeio during the Rams/Falcons Trophy game on November 13, 2021 at Canvas Stadium in Fort Collins, Colorado.

But, Colorado State wasn't about to be shut out in this game, and the Rams came charging back to make the score 14-7, Air Force, with just a minute to go in the first quarter.


And then, that's when history was made . . .


After a pair of penalties forced the Air Force offense to start the next drive at their own eight yard line, junior quarterback Haaziq Daniels unleashed a 46-yard pass to Brandon Lewis along the left sideline, who then streaked 56 yards after the catch -- 92 yards in total -- for the longest touchdown pass in Falcons' history and Air Force was up 21-7 after just 1 quarter.


Daniels also holds the record for the longest run in Air Force football history -- a 94-yarder against Florida Atlantic earlier this season.


Wearing their commemorative "Linebacker II" alternate uniforms for the second time this season, the Falcons logged 212 yards of offense in the first quarter.


CSU cut the lead to 21-14 by halftime, but the second half belonged to Air Force.


"We were fortunate to have some big plays," Air Force Head Coach Troy Calhoun said afterwards, "but it really wasn't until about the middle of the third quarter that you felt, 'Ok, we're starting to establish some stuff,' and that's a credit to our guys up front too."


Air Force used their potent ground attack to chew up the clock in the second half, holding the ball for nearly 23 minutes, and limited the Rams to just three possessions and only one scoring drive.


Roberts ended the game with 151 yards on the ground to extend his season total to 1,060. According to Brent Briggeman, Air Force athletics writer for The Gazette and friend of BTL, Roberts is the first Falcon to eclipse 1,000 yards rushing in a season since Kade Remsberg, who went for 1,050 in 2019. The only other Air Force rusher to have a 1,000-yard season in the past ten years was Jacobi Owens, who did it twice: in 2014 and 2015.


At one stretch in the fourth quarter against Colorado State, Roberts carried the ball on 10 out of 11 plays from scrimmage as the Falcons ran out the clock to end the game.


"Props to the offensive line," Roberts said, "I mean, they're getting a great push up front and I'm just running behind them, trying to keep my feet moving and just get those three-, four-yard gains and keep the chains moving. I think we had two games where we were under 200 yards, and that's just not who we are and we want to take pride and become diesels."


The Falcons put up 388 on the ground against CSU, 508 in total offense, and continue to top the FBS in rushing. Hughes finished with 107 yards of rushing.


The win against Colorado State, the fifth straight in their series with the Rams, stops a two-game losing streak, improves the Falcons to 7-3 and guarantees Air Force a winning season.


There are two more games on the Air Force schedule in the 2021 season. Next up for the Falcons is a Friday night clash with the prolific passing attack of Carson Strong and the Nevada Wolfpack in Reno, NV. Strong is fourth in the nation in passing yards and has thrown 28 touchdowns so far this season.


The Falcons conclude the 2021 regular season against the Running Rebels of Nevada-Las Vegas at home on November 26th.




edited for web by Joe Harman