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Gazette Premium Content Ramsey: Jacobi Owens shakes gloom from Air Force football program

82 photos photo - The Air Force Academy Falcons took on Nicholls State Saturday, August 30, 2014 at Falcon Stadium. Photo by Mark Reis, The Gazette + caption
The Air Force Academy Falcons took on Nicholls State Saturday, August 30, 2014 at Falcon Stadium. Photo by Mark Reis, The Gazette
By David Ramsey Updated: September 1, 2014 at 9:46 am

Hope.

That's what Jacobi Owens delivered to Air Force's football program Saturday while annihilating the Nicholls State Colonels.

He rushed for 233 yards on 23 carries, a first down waiting to happen every time he touched the ball. He showed power. He showed elusiveness. He showed, most importantly, the ability to bust outside.

"No matter what team it is, I'm going to run the way I run," Owens said a few minutes after the 44-16 win. "I feel I have the confidence to do whatever I need to do."

The Falcons hope to recover from The Nightmare of 2013, a season that saw Air Force stumble to two wins and 10 losses. A tough, fleet tailback who can dance around tacklers is a virtual requirement for a 2014 recovery.

Yes, Nicholls competes in the NCAA's Championship Subdivision (FCS), a lower grade than the rest of Air Force's opponents, but Owens' performance brought me back almost exactly two years. Back to when Air Force remained a dangerous football team.

Cody Getz was, in many ways, similar to Owens. He was a surprise starter. He was playing against FCS opponent Idaho State. Getz pulverized the Bengals for 218 yards.

I shrugged, doubting the importance of Getz's bust-out performance because of the caliber of the opponent.

But Getz was the real thing, the kind of back who could place an offense on his back, the kind of back who could scare any team in the nation. Getz nearly led Air Force to victory over Michigan in The Big House the week after the romp over Idaho State. He rushed for 887 yards in the first five games of the 2012 season.

Air Force's decline began the day Getz injured his ankle on a rainy night in Wyoming. The Falcons lost their star and soon lost their way. Air Force dropped 15 of 21 games before Saturday's win.

Air Force was heavily favored to defeat Nicholls, and it met expectations. Saturday's journey to Wyoming will be different. The Falcons will seek to erase memories of last season's beat down at the hands of the Cowboys in one of the worst home performances in the history of Air Force athletics, and we're talking any sport.

The Falcons require a thriving running game if they want to deliver a mild upset in Laramie. This thriving rush attack is also the key to a revival season. The defense has improved from 2013, if only because it would be difficult to be worse, but an offense that seizes first downs and eats the clock will be the prime weapon for a winning team in 2014.

The season is young and a wide range of vicious defenders await Owens, a 5-foot-11, 190-pound sophomore. Navy placed a scare into the hearts of Ohio State fans on Saturday. All sorts of frightening afternoons and nights are ahead.

Still, there is reason to believe. Owens led a Saturday surge that offered hints this season could be different from The Nightmare.

A few minutes before kickoff, Owens engaged in a short talk with himself.

"It's time," he said. "It's my time."

It better be.

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Twitter: @davidlukeramsey

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