Air Force had it. But the Falcons, quite literally, dropped the ball.
The team had erased most of Wyoming’s 21-point lead and was driving toward a tie early in the fourth quarter before a fumbled exchange helped the Cowboys escape with a 28-14 victory in a Saturday late-night heartbreaker for Air Force.
"We had a chance there to maybe move it in and perhaps tie the game, but we didn’t," coach Troy Calhoun said.
The Falcons had nearly recovered from a 21-0 hole. Had nearly climbed into the thick of the Mountain West race. Had nearly moved within a victory of bowl eligibility.
But it all slipped out of their hands.
Wyoming took the ball away from Air Force three times and turned them all into touchdowns, two coming as it built a 21-0 lead in the second quarter.
"If you had to pick one factor, it’s definitely turnovers," Calhoun said.
But everything changed when quarterback Josh Allen, a projected first-round NFL draft pick, left the game early in the third quarter with an undisclosed injury and did not return for the Cowboys.
"We’ll know a lot more tomorrow," Wyoming coach Craig Bohl said. "That’s all I’m going to say.
"I think he took a hard hit on a pressure."
The Falcons scored in the final minute of the first half – breaking a 96-minute scoring drought – when quarterback Arion Worthman threw a dart to Marcus Bennett from 22 yards.
Worthman completed 1o-of-22 passes for 175 yards with the touchdown and a first-quarter interception.
Air Force fullback Taven Birdow scored from 10 yards in the third quarter to make it 21-14.
"At that point we all knew we had a lot of football to play," said Birdow, who led Air Force with 82 rushing yards. "It wasn’t time to get too high."
The Falcons (4-6, 3-3 Mountain West) had one drive stall, then took over again and were in control of the momentum at the Wyoming 28 when Worthman appeared to be faking a handoff to fullback Jacob Stafford and lost the handle on the ball. Garrett Crall recovered and Wyoming (7-3, 5-1) launched its lone scoring drive of the half.
"Just fumbled the ball," Worthman offered in a brief explanation. "It was bad execution."
The Falcons never found a response and fell for the second straight week at home despite outgaining Wyoming 378-229. Allen went 8-of-11 passing for 70 yards and a touchdown, adding a short rushing touchdown as well. Nick Smith replaced him and went 2-of-3 for 39 yards.
The Falcons had three sacks, including two from freshman outside linebacker Lakota Wills.
The announced crowd at Falcon Stadium for this game that began at 8:25 p.m was 24,257.
Air Force now need wins at Boise State next week and in the season finale at home against Utah State to qualify for a bowl game.