BOISE, Idaho – Air Force’s second victory against Boise State on the blue turf included about 55 minutes of football and five minutes of, well, something more akin to falling through a trap door.
A punt hit off an unsuspecting Boise State player’s leg to create a turnover. The teams exchanged field goals. An onside kick was recovered. All this in a span of about 4 minutes until finally, Falcons’ cornerback Tre’ Bugg saw the ball coming his direction and with it a chance to finally secure a 24-17 victory for the Falcons.
“I better catch this one,” Bugg said. “That’s pretty much all that came to my head.”
Bugg did catch it, with his interception with 40 seconds remaining after the Broncos had kept their comeback efforts alive with an onside kick finally allowing Air Force to put the zaniness at the end of this game to rest, push the team to bowl eligibility and its best start to a season since 2002.
“Incredible,” fullback Brad Roberts said. “There’s so much momentum shifting, especially at the end of the game, to be able to come out on top is incredible.”
Air Force had multiple chances to seize control of the game but couldn’t do it, until a bit of luck intervened and a punt hit the back of the leg of Boise State’s Kekaula Kaniho as it rolled dead with 4:55 remaining.
Bo Richter recovered the muffed punt that gave the Falcons the possession that resulted in Matthew Dapore’s field goal with 2:49 remaining, putting Air Force up by two scores after it had led 21-14 since the second quarter.
The Falcons, who marched to touchdowns on long drives on their first three possessions, had come up empty on five straight chances prior to that.
The drought had included a pair of three-and-out possessions and a missed 30-yard field goal from Anthony Rodriguez.
The dry spell seemed unlikely given the way Air Force started the game.
That first half saw them complete just one pass – 59 yards on a third-and-long play from Haaziq Daniels to Brandon Lewis – as they leaned on a strong running game against a Boise State defense that ranked second from last in the Mountain West in stopping the run.
Air Force ran for 307 yards in the victory.
Roberts ran 28 times for 138 yards and two touchdowns. It was his fifth 100-yard game of the season and seventh in 11 career appearances.
The Falcons' other score came on a 26-yard run from Daniels.
Air Force started five sophomores on defense against Boise State – linebackers Johnathan Youngblood and Alec Mock, defensive backs Trey Taylor and Camby Goff and cornerback Michael Mack.
Mock provided one of the big defensive plays, knocking Boise State quarterback Hank Bachmeier out of bounds on a fourth-and-goal play. Goff provided another, forcing a backwards pass that resulted in a huge loss and thwarted a drive.
“I’m so excited,” said senior defensive tackle Jordan Jackson, whose team has avenged its two losses from 2019 – at Navy and now at Boise State. “I’m so proud of this team. I’m at a loss for words.”