Winds of change
COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo., -- The Wyoming Cowboy defense held the Falcons to 142 yards below their average rushing total, but the Falcons defense forced three Wyoming turnovers, as Air Force took the regular season finale 20-7 on Saturday afternoon in Falcon Stadium.
“We knew going in, This is, I believe, the most complete Air Force team that I have seen since I have been the head coach,” UW head coach Craig Bohl said. “I told Troy Calhoun that before the game. We were going to have a hard time moving the football and we certainly did.”
The Falcons rushed for 162 yards for the game and were held to 305 yards of total offense, which is one yard more than their average rushing total coming into the game of 304 per night. Wyoming mustered 225 yards of total offense for the game in a contest that saw gusts of 40 miles per hour.
“We played hard, we can probably execute a little bit better than what we did,” Bohl said. “It was a great effort, but we can certainly play better. We are going to move forward. I know a bunch of guys are disappointed in the locker room. This is a big ball game for our program. It’s a big game for Air Force as well. Hats off to them. They won, I told our guys to keep their heads up and move forward.”
The Pokes’ defense was led by safety Alijah Halliburton with 13 tackles. He has double-digit tackles in six games this season and has 119 tackles this season. Senior Logan Wilson and junior Garrett Crall added 10 tackles each. As it was a career-best for Crall. Butkus Finalist Wilson has 414 career tackles after his 10 on the day. Senior kicker Cooper Rothe became the all-time field goal leader with two for the day and has 58 in his career.
Freshman quarterback Levi Williams led the Pokes with a career-high 79 rushing yards. He also added 84 yards passing for the game. Raghib Ismail, Jr. added three catches for 41 yards to lead the Pokes with top rusher Xazavian Valladay was held to 38 yards rushing.
The Falcons opened the second quarter with the first score of the game on a one-yard run from DJ Hammond. It was an impressive drive that went 16 plays, 73-yards for 8:42. The falcons held the ball for over 12 minutes in the first quarter.
The Cowboys recovered a fumble inside Falcon territory in the second frame, but could not convert on a fourth down play, as the Falcons took a 7-0 led into the half. The Falcons offense recorded 134 yards of total offense with the Pokes countering with 78 yards.
The Pokes opened the second half with a big second play of the drive, a 38 yard rush from Williams to the Air Force’s 40-yard line. But the drive stalled, as the Falcons picked up an interception. The Falcons added a field goal from 31 yards after the turnover to take a 10-0 lead with 5:51 left in the third quarter.
The Pokes got on the board in the fourth quarter with a 26-yard field goal from Rothe that tied the Wyoming record for career field goals with 57 tying Sean Fleming. It was a 16 play drive that went 66 yards and lasted 7:42.
Rothe will stand alone with the field goal record after connecting on a 23-yard field goal to make it a 13-6 contest with 2:58 left in the game. The field goal was set up by a 58 yard kick return from the NCAA’s active leader in returns Tyler Hall.
The Falcons would fallow with a 75-yard touchdown pass, which would give Air Force the contest 20-6. The Falcons moved to 10-2 overall and 7-1 in the MW, as the Pokes fell to 7-5 overall and 4-4 in the conference.
Air Force was led by quarterback DJ Hammond going 5-of-6 passing for 121 yards with a touchdown. He also rushed for 35 yards for the game.
The Cowboys will now wait to see where they will play their final game of the 2019 season when bowl invitations are made on Sunday, Dec. 8. -- University of Wyoming press release