2008 Air Force Falcons Season

Posted Feb 8, 2009

2008 Air Force Falcons Season, Game Recaps, Scores and Reviews

2008 Air Force Falcons

Dec. 31
2008 Armed Forces Bowl
Houston 34 … Air Force 28

Houston got out to a 17-7 first quarter lead helped by one-yard touchdown runs from Bryce Beall and Case Keenum, but Air Force fought its way back with Eric Herbort running for a five-yard touchdown and Ryan Harrison hitting field goals from 44 and 37 yards out. But every time Air Force appeared to be getting over the hump, the Cougars came up with the drive and score needed to pull away with Keenum connecting with Andre Kohn catching a 13-yard touchdown pass early in the fourth for a 31-20 lead. But the Falcons wouldn't go away, getting a two-yard Jared Tew touchdown run and forcing a Houston fumble in the end zone to stay alive, but the offense failed to get the passing game going on the late last gasp drive.
Player of the Game: Houston RB Bryce Beall ran 22 times for 135 yards and a touchdown, and he caught four passes for 92 yards.
Stat Leaders: Air Force - Passing: Eric Herbort, 7-14, 98 yds
Rushing: Jared Tew, 27-149, 2 TD. Receiving: Spencer Armstrong, 2-60
Houston - Passing: Case Keenum, 22-33, 252 yds, 1 TD, 1 INT
Rushing: Bryce Beall, 22-135, 1 TD. Receiving: Tyron Carrier, 5-49
Inside The Box Score ...  5 Thoughts on the Armed Forces Bowl …Houston LB Marcus McGraw made 15 tackles with a forced fumble and a tackle for loss, and C.J. Cavness made 15 tackles … Air Force LB Chris Thomas led all defenders on 16 tackles with two tackles for loss … Time of possession: Air Force 38:07 – Houston 21:53 … 2nd quarter time of possession: Air Force 13:24 – Houston 1:36 … Third down conversions: Houston 7-of-13 – Air Force 11-of-22 … Average yards per play: Houston 6.4 – Air Force 3.1

- 2008 Air Force Preview
- 2007 Air Force Season

2008 Schedule
CFN Prediction:
2008 Record: 8-

Aug. 30 Southern Utah W 41-7
Sept. 6 at Wyoming W 23-3
Sept. 13 at Houston W 31-28
Sept. 20 Utah L 30-23
Sept. 27
Oct. 4 Navy L 33-27
Oct. 11 at San Diego St W 35-10
Oct. 18 at UNLV W 29-28
Oct. 23 New Mexico W 23-10
Nov. 1 at Army W 16-7
Nov. 8 Colorado State W 38-17
Nov. 15 BYU L 38-24
Nov. 22 at TCU L 44-10
Armed Forces Bowl
Dec. 31 Houston L 34-28

2007 Schedule
CFN Prediction:
2007 Record: 9-

Sept. 1 S Carolina St W 34-3
Sept. 8 at Utah W 20-12
Sept. 13 TCU W 20-17 OT
Sept. 22 at BYU L 31-6
Sept. 29 at Navy L 31-20
Oct. 6 UNLV W 31-14
Oct. 13 at Colorado St W 45-21
Oct. 20
Wyoming W 20-12
Oct. 25 at New Mexico L 34-31
Nov. 3 Army W 30-10
Nov. 10 at Notre Dame W 41-24
Nov. 17
San Diego St W 55-23
Armed Forces Bowl
Dec. 31 California L 42-36

Nov. 22
TCU 44 … Air Force 10
TCU dominated on both sides of the ball as the defense held the Air Force offense to just 161 yards while the Horned Frog attack rolled for 504 yards highlighted by a huge day from QB Andy Dalton. Dalton threw two touchdown passes and ran for two touchdowns as TCU rolled up a 37-3 lead after three quarters. Air Force finally got into the end zone on a 57-yard Jared Tew touchdown run, but TCU answered with a scoring drive ending with a two-yard Justin Watts run.
Player of the game: TCU QB Andy Dalton completed 21-of-27 passes for 321 yards and two touchdowns, and he ran 13 times for 39 yards and two scores
Stat Leaders: Air Force - Passing: Shea Smith, 1-3, 8 yds
Rushing: Asher Clark, 14-63. Receiving: Travis Dekker, 2-10
TCU - Passing: Andy Dalton, 21-27, 321 yds, 2 TD
Rushing: Joseph Turner, 9-50. Receiving: Jimmy Young, 5-100
Whoopty doo. What does it all mean, Basil? ... It was a bad matchup for the Falcons. Air Force couldn't handle the quickness of the TCU defensive front and the running game went nowhere. There wasn't even a hint of a threat from the passing game and Air Force didn't even try; it stuck with its bread-and-butter. The defense didn't provide much help as there wasn't nearly enough of a pass rush to throw off Andy Dalton. It was a sour way to end the strong season, but being fourth in the Mountain West pecking order isn't anything to sneeze at. Once in a while, the lack of the top-shelf talent is going to be a problem, and this just happened to be one of those games.

Nov. 15
BYU 38 … Air Force 24
BYU was sluggish in the first half as Air Force took a 14-10 lead on short scoring runs from Asher Clark and Todd Newell, and then the offense came out roaring in the third quarter with 21 straight points on two short Harvey Unga touchdown runs and a six-yard Austin Collie catch. Collie added a 45-yard touchdown grab late in the fourth to help BYU pull away. Air Force ran for 323 yards, but the defense couldn't slow down the Cougar passing attack that helped roll for 32 first downs and 354 yards through the air.
Player of the game: BYU QB Max Hall completed 28-of-37 passes for 354 yards and two touchdowns with an interception.
Stat Leaders: Air Force - Passing: Tim Jefferson, 12-20, 98 yds, 1 INT
Rushing: Todd Newell, 21-116, 1 TD. Receiving: Kyle Halderman, 3-17
BYU - Passing: Max Hall, 28-37, 354 yds, 2 TD, 1 INT
Rushing: Harvey Unga, 19-88, 2 TD. Receiving: Dennis Pitta, 9-113

Whoopty doo. What does it all mean, Basil? ... Air Force simply doesn't have the defensive talent to deal with a team like BYU when its offense is rolling. The Falcon running game was fine, but it didn't control the tempo nearly as much as it should've considering it rolled for 323 yards. Now that the pecking order has been established, and Air Force is the clear No. 4 team behind Utah, TCU, and BYU, the team needs to gear it up and be flawless with the date at TCU to close out the regular season. The Falcons can still make some noise, but the Horned Frogs are an awful matchup for them.

Nov. 8
Air Force 38 … Colorado State 17
Air Force won on the big play both through the air and on the ground as Asher Clark ran for a 41-yard touchdown in the first quarter, a 45-yard touchdown in the third, and Kyle Halderman took a pass 74 yards for a score. Colorado State stayed alive with a four-yard Dion Morton touchdown run in the second quarter, but that would be the last touchdown with Air Force going on a 24-3 run the rest of the way.
Player of the game: Air Force RB Asher Clark ran 16 times for 136 yards and two touchdowns.
Stat Leaders: Colorado State - Passing: Billy Farris, 19-36, 251 yds, 1 TD, 2 INT
Rushing: Gartrell Johnson, 19-81, 1 TD. Receiving: Rashaun Greer, 7-145
Air Force - Passing: Tim Jefferson, 6-8, 171 yds, 2 TD
Rushing: Asher Clark, 16-136, 2 TD. Receiving: Kyle Halderman, 2-99, 1 TD
Whoopty doo. What does it all mean, Basil? ... Air Force couldn't be coming in a better roll winning four of the last five games going into the showdowns against BYU and TCU. The Falcons showed more in the passing game against Colorado State and the big play in the running game that should be just enough to keep the Cougar and Horned Frog safeties worried a bit by more than just the normal Falcon running game. Tim Jefferson had his chances against the Rams, and he connected hitting 6-of-8 passes, and the running game was spread around extremely well.

Nov. 1
Air Force 16 … Army 7
Army for a 47-yard touchdown pass play from Chip Bowden to Damion Hunter in the first few minutes, and then Air Force took over as Ryan Harrison hit field goals from 20, 29 and 48 yards and kept the Knights pinned deep the rest of the way. Tim Jefferson added a one-yard touchdown run in the second quarter. The Falcons gained just 174 yards, but the defense forced three turnovers.
Player of the game: Air Force P/K Ryan Harrison hit all three of hit field goal attempts and averaged 41 yards on eight punts with two put inside the 20.
Stat Leaders: Army - Passing: Chip Bowden, 3-11, 64 yds, 1 TD, 1 INT
Rushing: Collin Mooney, 22-92. Receiving: Damion Hunter, 2-58, 1 TD
Air Force - Passing: Tim Jefferson, 3-8, 32 yds, 1 INT
Rushing: Todd Newell, 8-42. Receiving: Ty Paffett, 1-21
Whoopty doo. What does it all mean, Basil? ... The offense didn't get anything going against Army, but the defense and special teams picked up the slack. Ryan Harrison made sure to take advantage of every opportunity by hitting his three field goals, while the offense only turned it over once, even though it sputtered. The Falcons tried a little bit of everything to run the ball with little luck. The offense should do more against Colorado State next week.

Oct. 23
Air Force 23 ... New Mexico 10
New Mexico jumped out to a 10-0 first quarter lead and was driving for an apparent touchdown and a 17-0 lead, and then Aaron Kirchoff took a Brad Gruner fumble 96 yards for a touchdown and the rout was on. Air Force scored 23 unanswered points with three Ryan Harrison field goals and a one-yard Travis Dekker touchdown catch. The Falcons held on to the ball for 11:10 of the fourth quarter.
Player of the game: Air Force LB Chris Thomas made 10 tackles
Stat Leaders: New Mexico - Passing: Brad Gruner, 8-11, 83 yds
Rushing: Rodney Ferguson, 19-107, 1 TD. Receiving: Bryan Williams, 3-6
Air Force - Passing: Tim Jefferson, 1-2, 1 yd, 1 TD
Rushing: Asher Clark, 23-86. Receiving: Travis Dekker, 1-1, 1 TD
Whoopty doo. What does it all mean, Basil? ... Air Force didn't throw against New Mexico and it only outgained the Lobos by 15 rushing yards, and it still pulled off a big win thanks to the big play. It wasn't just Aaron Kirchoff's fumble return for a touchdown, it was his stop to stall a scoring drive in the second half, and other big plays from the Air Force defense. It also helped to get a big day from Ryan Harrison, who hit from 30, 43 and 32 yards out to get points with things stalled. Most importantly, the offense worked in the fourth quarter to close. The Falcons are bowl eligible, and now they're in a great position to finish in the top three of the conference if they can beat BYU or TCU.

Oct. 18
Air Force 29 … UNLV 28
Ryan Harrison hit a 19-yard field goal with 2:36 to play and the UNLV offense stalled on its final drive as Air Force came back for the win. Frank Summers gave the Rebels a 28-20 lead with a 45-yard dash early in the fourth quarter, but Air Force came right back with a 44-yard Kyle Halderman touchdown catch. However, the two-point conversion failed and the Falcons were down two. QB Tim Jefferson completed just 6-of-7 passes, but threw two scoring passes including a 28-yarder to Josh Cousins for a 14-0 lead in the first half. UNLV came up with two Omar Clayton touchdown passes including a 28-yarder to Phillip Payne with 14 seconds to play in the first half and a nine-yarder to Casey Flair. The two teams combined for 912 yards of total offense with Air Force running for 346 yards.
Player of the game: Air Force QB Tim Jefferson completed 6-of-7 passes for 162 yards and two touchdowns, and he ran 13 times for 99 yards
Stat Leaders: UNLV - Passing: Omar Clayton, 19-30, 251 yds, 2 TD
Rushing: Frank Summer, 11-69, 1 TD. Receiving: Phillip Payne, 6-124, 1 TD
Air Force - Passing: Tim Jefferson, 6-7, 162 yds, 2 TD
Rushing: Todd Newell, 22-134, 1 TD. Receiving: Josh Cousins, 2-35, 1 TD
Whoopty doo. What does it all mean, Basil? ... Tim Jefferson appears to be a playmaker to build the offense around for the next few years. He came up big when he had to against UNLV highlighted by a cool, calm final drive leading the way to the game-winning field goal. The running game is working, and while the defense is always going to be an issue against the power teams with good running games, it held late in the fourth quarter.

Oct. 11
Air Force 35 … San Diego State 10
With freshman QB Tim Jefferson at the helm and with fellow freshman Asher Clark helping to lead the way, Air Force rumbled for 401 rushing yards with Clark running for two short scores and Jefferson kicking off the scoring with a one-yard run. San Diego State held a 10-7 lead at halftime on a one-yard Drew Westling run and a 45-yard Lane Yoshida field goal, but Air Force dominated the second half scoring 28 unanswered points. The defense helped with a 25-yard interception return for a score from Justin Moore.
Player of the game: Air Force RB Asher Clark ran 15 times for 109 yards and a touchdown
Stat Leaders: San Diego State - Passing: Drew Westling, 18-35, 128 yds, 2 INT
Rushing: Atiyyah Henderson, 9-28. Receiving: Atiyyah Henderson, 7-41
Air Force - Passing: Shea Smith, 2-2, 38 yds, 1 TD
Rushing: Asher Clark, 15-109, 1 TD. Receiving: Josh Cousins, 3-41, 1 TD
Whoopty doo. What does it all mean, Basil? ... San Diego State didn't have a clue how to slow down the Air Force option in the second half. The linebackers were making every play five yards down the field, while the secondary couldn't hold on the seven Falcon pass plays having to cheat up to help out. The big problem was an offense that couldn't get going with Ryan Lindley out. Drew Westling filled in at quarterback and threw two picks and didn't get anything on the ground.

Oct. 4
Navy 33 … Air Force 27
Air Force outgunned Navy 411 yards to 244, but special teams won it for the Midshipmen. Matt Harmon nailed four field goals, including shots from 48 and 44 yards out, and there were two blocked punt returns for touchdowns with Blake Carter returning the first one 25 yards in the first quarter, and Bobby Doyle recovering one in the end zone in the fourth. Air Force got two-yard touchdown runs from Shea Smith and Asher Clark, and a 19-yard Kyle Halderman touchdown catch, but after Clark's run with 2:32 to play. Navy recovered the onside kick and ran out the clock.
Player of the game: Navy PK Matt Harmon nailed field goals from 35, 48, 44 and 32 yards out.
Stat Leaders: Navy - Passing: Shea Smith, 8-12, 128 yds, 1 TD
Todd Newell, 15-50. Receiving: Kyle Halderman, 3-62, 1 TD
Air Force
- Passing: Jarod Bryant, 1-2, 38 yds
Jarod Bryant, 24-101, 1 TD. Receiving: Shun White, 1-38

Whoopty doo. What does it all mean, Basil? ... Air Force is going to be kicking itself for the loss to Navy. The offense played well, the defense held the Midshipmen offense to 244 yards, and there were even two takeaways. However, poor special teams play, two turnovers, and 10 penalties for 75 yards proved costly. The running game was solid and the offense moved late to make it close, but it was too late. Losing to Navy stinks, but it wasn't a Mountain West game. Next week's trip to San Diego State is more important overall.

Sept. 20
Utah 30 … Air Force 23
Darrell Mack powered in for a nine-yard score with 58 seconds to play as Utah overcame a sloppy performance to get by Air Force. The Falcons only ran for 53 yards and were outgained 440 yards to 191, but they managed 16 second quarter points helped by a Jake Paulson fumble return for a score and a eight-yard Kyle Lumpkin scoring grab. Utah would pound its way into the lead with Mack running for two short second half touchdown runs before his final score, but Air Force tie the score late on a one-yard Savier Stephens run. The Utes turned it over three times, but they held on to the ball for 36:38 and had 24 first downs to nine.
Player of the game: Utah RB Darrell Mack ran 18 times for 101 yards and three touchdowns.
Stat Leaders: Air Force
- Passing: Shea Smith, 7-13, 138 yds, 1 TD, 2 INT
Rushing: Kyle Lumpkin, 12-36. Receiving: Kevin Fogler, 4-93
- Passing: Brian Johnson, 16-23, 243 yds, 1 TD, 1 INT
Rushing: Matt Asiata, 19-116. Receiving: Bradon Godfrey, 4-47
Whoopty doo. What does it all mean, Basil? ...
Give Air Force credit for staying alive against Utah when nothing was working. The ground game was stuffed, Shea Smith couldn't get the passing game to go, and the defense was getting pounded on, but still it was tied at 23 going into the final minutes. The schedule isn't bad over the next several weeks with BYU and TCU not coming until mid-November, so now is the time to go on a big run. To do that, the ground game has to get going again.

Sept. 13
Air Force 31 … Houston 28
In the rain and wind thanks to Hurricane Ike, Air Force jumped out to a 31-7 lead, and then held on for deal life. The Falcons didn't complete a pass, but they ran for 380 yards and got three short touchdown runs from Shea Smith. Houston owned the final 20 minutes with Case Keenum throwing three touchdown passes including two seven-yarders to Mark Hafner in the fourth quarter. Houston never got the ball back as Air Force ran out the clock. The two teams combined for 20 penalties for 160 yards.
Player of the game: Air Force QB Shea Smith failed to complete any of his seven passes, but rushed 15 times for 93 yards and three touchdowns.
Stat Leaders: Air Force
- Passing: Shea Smith, 0-7, 0 yds, 0 TDs
Rushing: Shea Smith, 15-93, 3 TDs. Receiving: none
- Passing: Case Keenum, 34-57, 362 yds, 4 TDs, 1 INT
Rushing: Case Keenum, 10-75. Receiving: Tyron Carrier, 8-91
Whoopty doo. What does it all mean, Basil? ... How do you win with a 0-for-7 passing day? Air Force managed to get the running game going thanks to a great day from Shea Smith, but it didn't control enough of the clock and the secondary was picked apart by Houston's Case Keenum for 362 yards. However, when push came to shove, literally, Air Force was able to close out with a good drive to seal the win. This was a great win for the Mountain West, and an even better one for a 3-0 Air Force team that has to be taken seriously in the conference race.

Sept. 6
Air Force 23 … Wyoming 3
Air Force stuffed Wyoming allowing a mere 216 yards of total offense while forcing five turnovers en route to the stunningly easy win. The Air Force offense only managed 15 yards passing, but it rolled up 261 yards on the ground highlighted by a 74-yard dash from Kyle Halderman to lead to a one-yard Shea Smith score. Wyoming's only points came on a 47-yard Jake Scott field goal in the second, but Air Force got three field goals from Ryan Harrison from 40, 27 and 44 yards away.
Player of the game:
 Air Force LB Chris Thomas made 13 tackles with a sack and a tackle for loss
Stat Leaders: Air Force - Passing: Shea Smith, 3-4, 15 yds, 1 INT
Rushing: Kyle Halderman, 3-85  Receiving: Spencer Armstrong, 1-7
Wyoming - Passing: Dax Crum, 7-19, 72 yds, 1 INT
Rushing: Devin Moore, 15-70. Receiving: Donate Morgan, 3-33
Whoopty doo. What does it all mean, Basil? ... It was a dominant performance by an Air Force defense that had a few question marks coming into the season; Wyoming couldn't do a thing. Most importantly, the Falcons got off the field allowing the Cowboys to convert just two of 13 third down attempts, while the running game held the ball for a whopping 37:14. Eventually, though, there will have to be a passing game after Shea Smith only completed three of four passes for 15 yards with an interception.

Aug. 30
Air Force 41 ... Southern Utah 7
Air Force got the machine rolling early and it didn't stop until late in the third quarter with Sean Smith running for a score and throwing for a one-yard score to Keith Madsen, while Ryan Harrison added three field goals. The defense got into the act as well with two safeties while holding Southern Utah to seven rushing yards. The Falcons rolled to 433 yards on the ground and held on to the ball for 39:37.
Player of the game: Air Force QB Shea Smith completed 8-of-12 for 75 yards and a touchdown, rushing for a team-high 91 yards and a touchdown on 16 carries.
Stat Leaders: Southern Utah - Passing: Cody Stone, 15-25, 123 yds, 1 TD
Rushing: Kenny Apili, 6-18. Receiving: Tysson Poots, 9-73
Air Force
- Passing: Shea Smith, 8-12, 75 yds, 1 TD
Rushing: Shea Smith, 16-91, 1 TD. Receiving: Kevin Fogler, 3-38

Whoopty doo. What does it all mean, Basil? ...
While the Falcons dominated Southern Utah in every imaginable way, it's impossible to take much from a game against one of the weakest teams in the FCS. In more of an exhibition game than anything else, Air Force outgained the Thunderbirds 508-130, 433 of which came on the ground. The most encouraging news was that QB Shea Smith looked comfortable in his first game directing the offense, leading the Falcons with 91 yards and a touchdown on the ground. Just as important for a game like this, he was on target on those rare passing occasions. 

2008 Early Lookahead
Why to get excited: What can Troy Calhoun do for an encore? After turning around a dead program with a sensational 9-4 season, the future is bright with the running game rolling again while getting surprisingly strong play from the defense. Three starters return to the O line along with TE Travis Dekker, while the defensive front comes back intact.
Why to be grouchy: Air Force, like all service academies, always have to retool year by year with seniors always emerging, but replacing key players always stinks. QB Shaun Carney was a four-year starter, RB/WR Chad Hall was the Mountain West Offensive Player of the Year, and three All-Mountain West defensive performers are gone. The entire offensive backfield has to be replaced along with six starters in the defensive back eight.
The number one thing to work on is: Making Shea Smith comfortable. The likely new starting quarterback is roughly the same size as Carney, and he saw a little bit of action completing four of 12 passes in the loss to Cal in the Armed Forces Bowl, but it's asking a lot for him to be the same leader and conductor. He spent last year preparing himself like a starter, so he should be able to hit the ground running.
Biggest offensive loss: RB Chad Hall
Biggest defensive loss: LB John Rabold
Best returning offensive player: OG Nick Charles, Jr.
Best returning defensive player: LB Hunter Altman, Sr.

2007 Recap
Recap: Pegged as an also-ran in the Mountain West before the season began, Air Force soared past expectations in 2007, winning six of its final seven games to finish in second place and earn a date with Cal in the Armed Forces Bowl.  First-year head coach Troy Calhoun was the architect of the revival at the academy, shrewdly increasing the role of playmaker Chad Hall, and getting sound contributions from a veteran defense.  Even after blowing a big lead to the Bears on New Year's Eve, the Falcons can look back on last year as a truly remarkable season that began with very modest goals.            

Offensive Player of the Year: WR Chad Hall

Defensive Player of the Year: LB Drew Fowler

Biggest Surprise: Beating Utah and TCU, a couple of Mountain West heavyweights, within a five-day span in September.  Early in the year, no one knew just how good these Falcons would become, so beating the Utes and Frogs forced the rest of the league to reevaluate its idea of a pecking order.     

Biggest Disappointment: Losing to Cal in the Armed Forces Bowl.  Midway through the second quarter, the Falcons were up by three touchdowns and in total control until QB Shaun Carney was lost with a knee injury and the Bear offense tore through Air Force en route to a 42-36 comeback victory.          

Looking Ahead: All of the momentum and goodwill that the Falcons amassed in 2007 will be useful in 2008.  Much of the senior leadership from last year's nine-win team, including Carney and five other all-conference performers, needs to replaced if Air Force is to return to the postseason.


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