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Offensive Struggles Doom Boise State at Air Force Academy

NCAA Football: Boise State at Air Force Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

Broncos 20, Falcons 27

On a blustery Friday in Colorado Springs, the Boise State Broncos squared off against the Air Force Academy Falcons. Coming into the game, the Broncos got some bad news with two of their starting linebackers ruled out for the season. Just prior to kickoff, it was also revealed that the Broncos would be without the services of safety, Dylan Sumner-Gardner. So, from the outset, Boise State was at a disadvantage, being down three starting defenders vs an offense and a team that had gotten the better of them the last two meetings.

The game started as did the match-up last year: With an explosive Jeremy McNichols run. Last season, The McWeapon started the game with an 83 yard TD on his first carry, This time, he cracked off a 56 yard gain that he turned into six just one short play later.

7-0, Broncos

Unfortunately, the Falcons moved the ball almost as easily and were able to plod down the field for six of their own.

7-7, All

The next two Falcon drives were ended by excellent TFLs from McCaskill/Moa and Durrant Miles, respectively. Unfortunately, the fact that there were two more Falcons drive means that their were likewise failed Bronco offensive drives. Early on, the Broncos WRs were struggling to get on the same page as Rypien. The pass game was 0-8 on pass attempts to start.

The Falcons were able to grind out a drive and put up 3 before forcing the Bronco offense into a 4th down punt attempt. They call it an ‘attempt’, because sometimes it doesn’t succeed. Today was one of those times. The Falcons blocked it and ran it back for a TD.

17-7, Falcons

Finally, after the Broncos had another 3 and out (Rypien 1-11 at that point), Leighton Vander Esch pulled off an incredibly heads-up interception on a tipped pass that bounced off the falling bodies of a tangled Falcon WR and a Bronco defender. Rypien finally started to put a drive together and drove downfield for a field goal just before the half to cut into the AF lead.

17-10, Falcons

Coming back from halftime, the Broncos forced a punt early but were unable to get anything going on offense—passing game was still struggling with only 3 completions on 17 attempts. The Falcons took the next possession, and after having set up the pass all game, they connected on one deep to get in the Bronco red zone. A couple plays later, the Falcons put it in the end zone.

24-10, Falcons

The Broncos were able to put together a drive after the Falcon TD, but had to settle for 3 again after a McNichols TD was called back on a hold from Roh.

24-13, Falcons

The Broncos were unable to convert a wide open Cedrick Wilson route to a TD on their next offensive drive, and the Falcons were able to get the ball back. They drove for a field goal. At that point, it wasn’t even that they had put a few more points on the board. Rather, it was the fact that their drives were eating up so much clock. To move only 27 yards, the Falcons chewed up 5:10 of game time.

27-13, Falcons

The Broncos, however did exactly what they needed to do to answer. In one play, Rypien and Wilson finally connected on a 75 yard completion for six points. The catch gave Wilson 1,000+ yards for the season, and gave the Broncos another chance to get back in the game.

27-20, Falcons

Upon getting the ball back, the Broncos were able to get inside the Air Force 5 yard line on back to back plays that went for a total of 88 yards, but on a 4th down sneak attempt, the ball came loose and AF recovered at their own 1. The Broncos had all three timeouts, and used them, but were unable to stop the Academy. The Falcons secured their final first down of the game and were then able to kneel out the clock.

Air Force’s win eliminates the Broncos from contention for the Mountain West title, regardless of how tomorrow’s game between Wyoming and New Mexico goes, and the Broncos are now 0-3 vs the Air Force Academy since 2014.

The offense looked absolutely unstoppable at times in the second half, but for too much of the first half and the first part of half 2, they were unable to connect on passes, whether it was because of drops or overthrows. The run game also struggled outside of that excellent first series for McNichols.

On the brightside, some of the better players on defense in this game were either true freshman or very young. Kekoa Nawahine was all over the field, as was Tyson Maeva and Vander Esch. Durrant Miles and DeAndre Pierce also made their presence felt. So, with Rypien, Wilson, and maybe McNichols coming back on offense, the future cupboard is far from bare.

The regular season is now over for the Broncos at 10-2, and let’s be honest, as up and down as this team has been at times, and how bad the turnover differential has been...that’s still a pretty dang good record.

Now, we get to sit back and wait for the bowl announcements.

In the meantime, as always, no matter what the record...

Go Broncos!