Ramsey: Anthony LaCoste breathes life into Air Force's football season

November 2, 2013 Updated: November 3, 2013 at 11:24 pm
Caption +
Air Force Falcon running back Anthony LaCoste (37) carries the ball for a 73 yard touch down in the first quarter of an NCAA college football game between the Air Force Falcons and the Army Black Knights at Falcon Stadium in Air Force Academy, Colorado on Saturday, November 2, 2013. (Kent Nishimura/The Gazette)

Anthony LaCoste saw little but green in front of him and on a gloriously sunny day he sensed the gloom of Air Force's hideous football season finally had lifted.

"I knew," LaCoste said, ". it was going to be a good day."

He was right. No doubt about that.

This happy feeling overwhelmed LaCoste midway through his 73-yard run to the end zone five minutes into Air Force's 42-28 win over Army at Falcon Stadium. Air Force had lost seven straight games, including demolition jobs by Utah State, Boise State, Wyoming and Notre Dame, but the Falcons and LaCoste deserve this moment. They did the demolishing in the second half Saturday.

A team that had been dominated week after week did the dominating against Army. The Falcons were led by an unlikely senior hero. LaCoste played defensive back last season, one of the many detours in his wild ride at the academy. He's endured injuries to both knees. Moved from offense to defense. Watched for most of his career from the bench.

He was waiting, always, for a chance like this. LaCoste breathed life back into Air Force's season with 263 yards on 23 carries. Only Chad Hall, with 275 yards against Army in 2007, has rushed for more single-game yards for the Falcons.

The good times could linger. I make this statement with caution. The Falcons have often played as badly as any college football team in the nation this season.

But the offense finally has discovered a leader, and the remaining schedule is inviting. Air Force boasts a 17-1 record in its past 18 games against New Mexico, UNLV and CSU.

LaCoste can carry the Falcons - and we're talking literally here - to two victories in their final three games. LaCoste even mentioned winning all three games, but that's too optimistic for me.

Coach Troy Calhoun has embraced a running game by committee this season, and the result was a 1-7 record heading into the Army game. In previous seasons, Calhoun employed a featured back, and Chad Hall, Asher Clark and Cody Getz carried the Falcons to six straight bowl games.

"I want the job," LaCoste said, answering my question before I fully finished asking it. "I want to be the featured back. I've just been waiting for the opportunity to make it happen."

LaCoste is a senior, with only three games left in his career. His injuries caused him to get lost in a crowd of Air Force running backs during his first three seasons.

And I'll admit his subtle, no-nonsense running style inspired me to underrate his potential. I've spent the past few months campaigning for Jon Lee to reign as the Falcons' No. 1 halfback.

Lee, a junior, will have to wait until next season. LaCoste won the job Saturday. It's not often a running back can say his 73-yard touchdown ranked as his second-longest run. LaCoste later rampaged to a 78-yard run.

In high school, these kind of games were common for LaCoste, who collected a mind-boggling 6,422 yards at West Albany High in Oregon. He waited a long time to begin his show at Air Force.

But the show doesn't have to end.

In the early minutes of Saturday's win, LaCoste could see the end zone - and hope - just ahead.

A bad football team may have finally awakened. The Falcons might be ready to leap into the ranks of the mediocre.

And mediocre, along with a patient running back named Anthony, could be enough for two more victories.


Twitter: @davidramz

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