Air Force went for, and converted, a fourth-down play from its own 34-yard line in the first quarter.
The Falcons were trailing 14-7 and hadn’t provided any proof that it could slow down Colorado State’s offense at that point. A failure to convert would have almost assuredly resulted in a 21-7 deficit on the road to an offense that at that point had piled up 130 yards on just 12 plays.
But at the same time, a punt would have resulted in an empty possession and, because the Falcons were facing a stiff wind, would have been unlikely to net more than 35 yards and Colorado State will would have taken over with good field position.
This had the feel of a shootout, where a missed possession might loom large.
So, the Falcons went for it and quarterback Arion Worthman scooted forward for a 2-yard gain.
“I just felt like we had a high, high percentage to be able to convert,” coach Troy Calhoun said. “That’s a little bit of the faith that you have in the guys in front and being able to get a surge.”
Air Force then finished off the drive that went 75 yards in 13 plays when Taven Birdow scored the touchdown that knotted the score at 14 and helped the Falcons keep up with the frenetic early pace of the game.
Jones picks off former suitor
Air Force safety James Jones IV was recruited by Colorado State late in the process during his senior year at Mullen High School in Denver.
“It was definitely a school that was on the radar and a school that I considered,” said Jones, who received an offer from the Rams but only after signing day. “But I felt at home here.”
Jones, whose father is the defensive coordinator at Northern Colorado, intercepted the first pass of his career in the second quarter, thwarting a potential scoring drive when he got the turnover at the 10-yard line. On the previous play the Rams had a rushing touchdown called back by a holding penalty.
As a Colorado native (at least for high school, he moved frequently in childhood as a coach’s son), Jones had a little extra insight into the significance of the victory.
“It’s a battle for the state, battle for I-25,” he said. “That’s what we did.”
Strebel moves up the list
Air Force kicker Luke Strebel became Air Force’s all-time leading scorer among kickers with 240 points, as he connected on a field goal and added six PATs.
He passes Sean Pavlich, who scored 237 points from 1980-83.
Strebel ranks third all-time in points scored among all players and is just 12 shy of the 252 scored by quarterbacks Dee Dowis and Beau Morgan.
Start slow, finish strong
Over its three-game losing streak, Air Force has been outscored 45-14 in the first quarter.
It has then responded by outscoring opponents 110-55 over the next three quarters.