Sep 23, 2022; Colorado Springs, Colorado, USA; Air Force cadets finish pushups following a score in the second quarter against the Nevada Wolf Pack at Falcon Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

Air Force football gets probation for recruiting violations

The NCAA put the Air Force football program on probation for two years Thursday for recruiting violations during COVID-19 dead periods.

In addition to an unspecified fine, the Falcons also face reductions in official and unofficial visits as well as a cut in the size of the roster by 10 players for four years, per ESPN.

The Action Network first reported in May that the academy was under investigation for hosting high school prospects on campus during dead periods in 2020 and providing the recruits with improper benefits.

Four of the individuals involved in the investigation, reportedly including former defensive line coach Bill Sheridan, have reached an agreement with the NCAA enforcement staff about penalties. A fifth individual is challenging the allegations and faces a hearing with the Division I Committee on Infractions.

Air Force (3-1, 1-1 Mountain West) hosts Navy (1-2, 1-1 American Athletic Conference) on Saturday.

–Field Level Media

Sep 23, 2022; Colorado Springs, Colorado, USA; Air Force Falcons running back Brad Roberts (20) carries the ball in the second quarter against the Nevada Wolf Pack at Falcon Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

Air Force puts dominant rush attack against rival Navy

Air Force’s dominant rushing attack has guided the academy to a hot start to the season. The Falcons will aim to keep that going when they host rival Navy on Saturday outside Colorado Springs, Colo.

Air Force (3-1) embarrassed Nevada by gaining 461 rushing yards on 75 attempts in a 48-20 victory last week. Fourteen different Falcons took at least one carry, but Brad Roberts did most of the damage with 20 touches for 123 yards and three touchdowns.

The Falcons completed just one pass, but it went for an 80-yard touchdown as Ben Brittain connected with David Cormier in the first quarter. Then, the run game fully settled in. The Falcons average 412.2 yards per game to lead the Football Bowl Subdivision. Second on the list is Minnesota, far lower than Air Force at 294.5 yards on the ground per game.

Now the Falcons’ minds will turn to the Commander-in-Chief’s Trophy. Air Force leads the three-way series with 20 trophies to Navy’s 16 and Army’s nine, but it has not claimed one outright since 2016.

Air Force won 23-3 in Annapolis, Md. last year to improve to 32-22 all-time against Navy. But after Army defeated Air Force and Navy upset Army, the C.I.C. was split for the first time since 1993.

“It’s the level of respect that’s involved, again, not only for the football part of it, but beyond the football,” Air Force head coach Troy Calhoun said. “There’s some resemblances for both squads in terms of what you’ll see. Both squads want to play well up front, offensively and defensively. You want to do a good job of handling the ball. And yet there are going to be sometimes where you also want to try to have some larger-gain plays without completely sacrificing a bunch of series.”

Navy (1-2) is coming off its first win of the year, a 23-20, double-overtime victory on the road over American Athletic Conference foe East Carolina. Daniel Davies, a backup filling in for injured kicker Bijan Nichols, made critical field goals in both overtime periods.

While Navy is a run-heavy team like its fellow service academies, the Midshipmen had success through the air in beating the Pirates. Tai Lavatai completed 7 of 10 passes for 152 yards, including a 65-yard touchdown pass in the fourth quarter to Vincent Terrell Jr.

“We’re an option team and obviously we run the ball first and foremost, predominantly,” head coach Ken Niumatalolo said. “But they were so aggressive, East Carolina, they were just playing so aggressive. … Obviously, Tai can throw the football and we have some good receivers, but it’s not who we are. But the way the game was going, it dictated that.”

Navy hasn’t beaten Air Force on the road since 2012. Air Force hasn’t won three straight in the series since its six-game streak from 1997 to 2002.

–Field Level Media

Sep 2, 2022; Boulder, Colorado, USA; Colorado Buffaloes quarterback J.T. Shrout (5) passes the ball in the second quarter against the TCU Horned Frogs at Folsom Field. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

Reports: Colorado to start J.T. Shrout against Air Force

J.T. Shrout will start at quarterback for Colorado on Saturday when the Buffaloes play at Air Force Academy, multiple outlets reported.

Colorado coach Karl Dorrell did not announce a starter this week.

In a season-opening 38-13 loss to TCU, Colorado started Brendon Lewis, who completed 13 of 18 passes for 78 yards.

Shrout, a transfer from Tennessee, made his Colorado debut in the second half. He was 13-of-23 passing for 157 yards and a touchdown.

Last season, Lewis started all 12 games as a redshirt freshman. He finished the season 149-of-257 passing for 1,540 yards and 10 touchdowns with three interceptions as the Buffaloes posted a 4-8 record (3-6 Pac-12).

Colorado will play at Air Force Academy for the first time since 1974.

–Field Level Media

Dec 28, 2021; Dallas, Texas, USA; Air Force Falcons wide receiver Brandon Lewis (13) runs for his first of two touchdowns against the Louisville Cardinals during the first half during the 2021 First Responder Bowl at Gerald J. Ford Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

Air Force topples Louisville in First Responder Bowl

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

Oct 23, 2021; Colorado Springs, Colorado, USA;  San Diego State Aztecs quarterback Lucas Johnson (7) throws a pass during the first quarter against the Air Force Falcons at Falcon Stadium. Mandatory Credit: John Leyba-USA TODAY Sports

No. 22 San Diego State outlasts Air Force

No. 22 San Diego State took advantage of two early turnovers and built enough of a cushion to hold off host Air Force for a 20-14 victory on Saturday night in Colorado Springs, Colo.

The Aztecs (7-0, 3-0 Mountain West) built a 20-0 lead shortly after halftime and prevailed despite totaling only 229 yards of total offense. A Dallas Branch interception and Noah Avinger’s fumble recovery led to the first two scores.

San Diego State is off to its best start since 1975.

Air Force (6-2, 3-2) had its three-game winning streak snapped.

San Diego State, which entered the game with the top-ranked run defense in the nation (61.5 rushing yards per game) held the Falcons’ potent triple-option running attack to only 89 yards on the ground in the first half and 87 overall. Air Force entered the game averaging 336.4 rushing yards per game.

Air Force came storming back in the fourth quarter. Backup quarterback Warren Bryan led the Falcons back after starting quarterback Haaziq Daniels was knocked out of the game with an injury with 6:04 left in the third quarter.

Bryan entered and finished an 11-play, 57-yard drive with a 13-yard touchdown pass to Dalton King to give Air Force its first points.

After forcing a punt on its next defensive series, Air Force used another methodical drive (15 plays, 89 yards in 6:33) to cut San Diego State’s lead to 20-14 with 3:59 left on Dane Kinamon’s 3-yard touchdown on a sweep.

San Diego State again was forced to punt and totaled only 49 yards in the fourth quarter.

Aztecs punter Matt Araiza, who had an 81-yard punt earlier in the game, booted a 56-yard punt to pin Air Force back at its own 13. The Falcons appeared to convert on fourth-and-7 from their own 16 with a Bryan completion to Brandon Lewis, but a chop block penalty nullified the play.

The Falcons elected to punt with 1:57 left and two timeouts remaining.

San Diego State ran out the clock, converting a first down on a 9-yard run by Kaegun Williams. Williams and Chance Bell each scored rushing touchdowns for the Aztecs as five rushers combined for 157 yards.

–Field Level Media

Sep 10, 2021; Boise, Idaho, USA; Boise State Broncos wide receiver Stefan Cobbs (5) returns a punt for a touchdown during the first half against the UTEP Miners at Albertsons Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brian Losness-USA TODAY Sports

AAC targeting Boise State, UAB, others for expansion

The American Athletic Conference has identified potential candidates, most from the Mountain West, to join the league after the announced exodus of three teams to the Big 12, CBS Sports reported Thursday.

At the top of the AAC’s wish list are Mountain West programs Air Force, Boise State, Colorado State and San Diego State, along with UAB of Conference USA.

The conference is losing Cincinnati, Houston and UCF to the Big 12. Texas and Oklahoma began the chain reaction of moves with their announcement that they will join the Southeastern Conference in 2025.

The CBS report said the AAC likely will be looking to add four teams to bring the number of members to 12, with Boise State the most coveted addition based on the strength of its football program. CBS reported last week that Boise State, as well as Memphis, also could be top targets for the Big 12 should it choose to expand to 14 teams.

The AAC also has a second tier of teams it could pursue if it is spurned by any of its preferred teams, per the report. It includes FAU and UTSA from Conference USA.

BYU, an independent in football and a Mountain West member in the other sports, is joining the Big 12 in 2023, with the AAC teams expected on board by July 1, 2024.

–Field Level Media

Dec 12, 2020; West Point, New York, USA; Army Black Knights running back Tyrell Robinson (21) celebrates a 15-0 win over Navy in the Army-Navy game at Michie Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Danny Wild-USA TODAY Sports

Army, Air Force to meet in 2021 Commanders’ Classic

Army and Air Force will play the first-ever college football game at Globe Life Field in Arlington, Texas, when they meet in the Lockheed Martin Commanders’ Classic on Nov. 6, 2021.

The U.S. military academies announced the details of a two-year agreement on Thursday, with the return meeting set for Nov. 5, 2022. The designated home team will be the Falcons in 2021 and the Black Knights in 2022.

The retractable-roof stadium, with a capacity of 40,300, opened its doors this spring. It is home to Major League Baseball’s Texas Rangers and was the location of the 2020 World Series, as a neutral site amid COVID-19 protocols.

“We are honored to have Air Force and Army play the inaugural football game at Globe Life Field,” Rangers executive vice president Sean Decker said in a news release. “Honoring our military heroes is very important to the Texas Rangers, and we expect the environment and other activities surrounding this great matchup will make for a very exciting weekend in Arlington.”

Air Force (3-2) and Army (8-2) meet Saturday in West Point, N.Y.

The Falcons hold a 37-16-1 lead in the all-time series.

–Field Level Media

Oct 31, 2020; Colorado Springs, Colorado, USA; General view of Falcon Stadium during the first half of the game between the Boise State Broncos against the Air Force Falcons. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

Air Force cancels game at Wyoming due to COVID-19

The Air Force game at Wyoming, scheduled for Saturday, has been canceled and will not be rescheduled, the program and the Mountain West announced Sunday.

The game will be declared a “no contest,” according to Mountain West COVID-19 protocols.

The game was called off by Air Force because of an upward trend of COVID-19 cases at the Air Force Academy and within the football program.

It is the second consecutive game that Air Force has postponed and/or canceled. The program’s game at Army on Nov. 7 was postponed last week. There have been discussions between the two programs to possibly play that game at a later date.

The Falcons (1-2, 0-2 MW) last played on Oct. 31 in a 49-30 loss to visiting Boise State at Falcon Stadium.

Air Force is scheduled to host New Mexico on Nov. 20.

Wyoming (1-2, 1-2) is scheduled to host Utah State on Nov. 19.

“We are disappointed to lose a second consecutive game, but the health and safety of our cadets, staff and community is our No. 1 priority at the Academy,” Air Force athletics director Nathan Pine said in a released statement.

“We have seen continued increase in our COVID numbers within the football program and have again eclipsed our threshold for safe competition,” he continued. “We will pause football practices for now.”

–Field Level Media

Oct 5, 2019; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Boise State Broncos quarterback Hank Bachmeier (19) warms up before a game against the UNLV Rebels at Sam Boyd Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sports

Boise State QB Bachmeier sidelined vs. Air Force

Boise State sophomore quarterback Hank Bachmeier didn’t travel with the team and missed Saturday’s road game at Air Force.

Sophomore starting safety JL Skinner also missed the Mountain West contest.

No. 25 Boise State reportedly confirmed one player missed the game due to a positive COVID-19 test but didn’t reveal the identity.

Transfer Jack Sears, a former Southern California starter, took Bachmeier’s place. Sears threw a 75-yard touchdown pass to senior receiver CT Thomas on the game’s first offensive play.

Sears, a fourth-year junior, started one game for USC. He completed 20 of 28 passes for 235 yards, two touchdowns and no interceptions during a 38-35 loss to Arizona State on Oct. 27, 2018.

Air Force sophomore quarterback Haaziq Daniels departed the game in the first quarter with an injury. Junior Warren Bryan replaced him.

–Field Level Media

Nov 30, 2019; Colorado Springs, CO, USA; Air Force Falcons head coach Troy Calhoun gestures in the fourth quarter against the Wyoming Cowboys at Falcon Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

Revamped Air Force crushes Navy, 40-7

Air Force, with 11 new starters on defense and as many as 30 players having opted out of football for the fall, scored 37 unanswered points en route to a 40-7 win over Navy on Saturday in Colorado Springs.

Air Force scored three fourth-quarter touchdowns.

Sophomore Haaziq Daniels, in his first career start as Air Force quarterback, rushed for 96 yards and a touchdown, and Brad Roberts added 103 rushing yards and a score for the Falcons in their first game of the season.

Fullback Timothy Jackson led Air Force with 118 yards on 19 carries as the Falcons won their ninth straight game dating back to last season. That’s the longest active winning streak in the nation.

Air Force totaled 369 rushing yards on the day.

Teyve Schuettpelz-Rohl made all three of his field goal attempts in the first half, his last one as time ran out in the first half to give Air Force a 16-7 lead. He had four field goals for the game.

Navy (1-2) scored its only points on the first play of the second quarter. Tyger Goslin, in his first start of the season after expected starter Dalen Morris didn’t make the trip, found a wide open Miles Fells for a 73-yard touchdown pass. Fells caught the ball with no one covering him and ran untouched into the end zone.

The Falcons responded by marching down the field 75 yards in eight plays, with Daniels just getting the ball over the goal line for a touchdown and a 10-7 lead.

Goslin fumbled and Air Force recovered deep in Navy territory, but the Midshipmen kept the Falcons to a field goal and 13-7 lead with 6:36 left in the first half.

Goslin finished with 137 passing yards, but Navy was held to 90 rushing yards as a team, their lowest total in a game in four years.

In 13 season openers under coach Troy Calhoun, Air Force has outscored teams 668-143. All but Navy were FCS schools.

–Field Level Media