Air Force’s Upset Bid Falls Short In 29-13 Loss To Michigan
The Falcons gave a good fight, but ran out of steam in the fourth quarter against the Wolverines.
The Air Force defense held Michigan in check with field goals, but the Falcons’ special teams faltered.
For those who follow Air Force football, the closeness of this game should not have been a surprise, but the end result was still a loss with the Falcons losing to Michigan, 29-13.
The Falcons deserve a ton of credit despite the outcome of this game, especially on the defensive side of the ball. They forced the Wolverines to kick five field goals and allowed just one offensive touchdown late in the fourth quarter. Air Force also did a great job on third down defensively, allowing just 5-of-14 to the Wolverines.
Michigan had trouble moving the ball consistently on offense, as they stalled in the red zone multiple times while settling for field goals. Ty Isaac continued his strong September by 89 yards on 16 carries, but quarterback Wilton Speight had just 169 yards on 14-of-23 passing and struggled mightily in the red zone.
The Falcons caused havoc for Speight, who was hit multiple times, and there were a few times that he was nearly picked off. Jack Flor had a big game for Air Force with a forced fumble that led to a field goal, eleven total tackles, a tackle for loss. Marques Griffin also had a strong game with eleven tackles and a heads-up pass defense that stopped a Michigan red zone drive.
The Falcons offense had its moments but, too many times, they tried to play speed football by going to the edge on their option plays. There were too many times in which quarterback Arion Worthman decided not to pitch the ball to a back who had wide open lanes. Air Force also went away from the fullback dive in the second half which made the speed option plays less and less effective.
Tim McVey did end up with 62 yards on 11 carries, good for an average of 5.6 yards per carry, but Worthman had just 87 yards after adjusting for sack yardage and the fullback situation found little room to operate between the tackles: Parker Wilson only had 21 yards on eight carries.
Air Force had the lone touchdown of the game with a 64-yard connection between Worthman and Ronald Cleveland, but it was Air Force’s only completed pass on the day. Worthman finished 1-for-7 and nearly had a couple of passes intercepted.
While the defense played great and the offense had its moments, special teams hurt the Falcons’ chance for a victory. Punter Charlie Scott had a 21-yard punt in the second quarter and a 22-yard punt in the third, but it was outkicking the coverage that led to a 79-yard punt return touchdown by Donovan Peoples-Jones. Three times, the Wolverines started in Falcons territory and each drive ended with a field goal.
Luke Strebel, who made field goals of 37 and 50 yards, also had a 29-yard field goal miss that he’d surely like to have back. Down nine points at the beginning of the fourth quarter, the Falcons went on a 16-play, 73-yard drive that ate up 6:55 of clock but came up empty-handed.
The Falcons defense forced Michigan to punt with the ball on the ensuing drive down 22-13, but Air Force’s offense was stopped once again as Worthman was sacked and on 3rd-and-14.