Haaziq Daniels threw for a career-high 252 yards and two touchdowns Tuesday as Air Force crossed up Louisville with a surprising aerial barrage during a 31-28 win in the First Responder Bowl in Dallas.
Daniels completed 9 of 10 passes, averaging 28 yards per completion to offer an emphatic counterpoint to a running game held to 170 yards. He also added two scores on the ground.
The Falcons (10-3) sealed the outcome when Matthew Dapore connected on a 26-yard field goal with 5:28 left in the game, capping a 17-play drive that chewed up 9:36 of clock.
Malik Cunningham tried to bring the Cardinals (6-7) back from a game-long deficit. He drew them within 28-21 with four seconds left in the third quarter when he hit Tyler Harrell in stride for a 34-yard touchdown.
Cunningham pulled Louisville within three points with 2:57 remaining in the game on a 22-yard scoring run, his 20th of the year. But Air Force was able to melt the remaining time.
Cunningham hit 13 of 21 passes for 207 yards and a touchdown while adding 66 yards on 12 rushes.
Air Force entered the day as the top rushing team in FBS at more than 341 yards per game, but most of its 28 first half points were due to its passing game. Daniels’ 40-yard connection to Caleb Rillos set up Daniels’ 5-yard touchdown run at the 2:01 mark of the first quarter.
The next time the Falcons had the ball, they scored just 46 seconds into the second quarter when Daniels hit Brandon Lewis over the middle for a 61-yard scoring strike. Louisville responded with a drive of nearly five minutes that Trevion Cooley finished with a 1-yard plunge.
Daniels and Lewis made it 21-7 with 5:42 in the half on a short pass that Lewis turned into a 64-yard touchdown, juking two defenders with great cutbacks. However, the Cardinals got that score back on Jawhar Jordan’s 100-yard kickoff return.
Daniels capped a half in which he threw for 199 yards with a 1-yard sneak 54 seconds before the break, giving Air Force a two-touchdown lead.
–Field Level Media