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Famous Idaho Potato Bowl: Air Force Fumble Return Keys 38-24 Victory over Western Michigan

A 60-yard fumble return by linebacker Dexter Walker provided the needed spark for the Air Force Falcons to capture a 38-24 victory over the Western Michigan Broncos.

Brian Losness-USA TODAY Sports

Senior Linebacker Spencer Proctor made the strip and Dexter Walker picked up the fumble by Zach Terrell and raced 60 yards for a touchdown to stop the Western MIchigan Broncos momentum in the fourth quarter and proved to be the play of the game to help seal the Air Force Falcons 38-24 victory in the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl on the rainy and overcast Boise, Idaho Saturday afternoon.

The victory completed the best turnaround season in Air Force history as they improved from 2-10 in 2013 to 10-3 in 2014. The victory also assures the Falcons the best turnaround in the nation this season. TCU can tie the Falcons with a victory over Ole Miss in the Chick-Fil-A Peach Bowl on New Year's Eve. It is also the first 10 win season in Head Coach Troy Calhoun's career as Falcons head coach. Three times Calhoun won nine games in a season in his eight year career at Air Force.

It was a fullback kind of day for the run-oriented Air Force offense Saturday, as the tandem of Davern, the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl MVP, and Johnson pounded out 184 yards on 32 carries and three touchdowns (2 by Davern and 1 by Johnson) in the process. The Falcons rushed for a total of 284 yards in the game, so the fullbacks carried the weight of the offense for the Mountain West representative. The ground and pound sophomores stole the spotlight from Jarvion Franklin, who entered the game as the highlighted player in the bowl game. Franklin was the MAC Freshman and Offensive Player of the Year, but the freshman running back was limited to 26 yards on 12 carries for the game.

The day started out the worst way possible for Air Force as Devin Rushing fumbled the pitch on the first play of the game and Western Michigan pounced on the ball. Air Force's defense would limit the Broncos to a field goal to take the 3-0 lead. The Falcons would answer the field goal with a drive that ended with a Davern 1-yard touchdown run to take the 6-3 lead. The Falcons would see a fumbled snap on the two-point conversion for the second costly mistake for Air Force in the first quarter.

Corey Davis of Western Michigan would score on a 47-yard pass from Terrell to retake the lead for the Broncos 10-6. It would be the last lead of the game for Western Michigan, as the Falcons would watch Davern rumble 55 yards on the fullback dive midway through the second quarter to retake the lead for good 13-10.

Air Force would increase the lead before the half on a long 15 play-80 yard drive that took almost six minutes off the clock. The drive looked to be stuck when the Falcons had a fourth and two on their own 39 yard line. But Calhoun is one of the biggest gamblers among college football coaches, and he would dial up a fake punt with the direct snap to Davern, who would run for eight yards and keep the drive alive. The drive got all the way down to the one-yard line before another fourth down situation faced the gambling Falcons coach. Calhoun would watch Rushing take a pitch to the right side of the formation and dive in for the touchdown and the 20-10 halftime lead.

Will Conant would score the only points in the third quarter with a 31 yard field goal to extend the lead to 23-10. The teams would trade punts the rest of the third before Western Michigan would put together another drive early in the fourth quarter that would see Davis catch his second touchdown of the day on a perfectly thrown pass from Terrell to cut the lead to 23-17.. The Falcons would follow with a punt, setting up the big play from Walker to recapture the lead and extend the lead to 31-17.

Johnson would score his touchdown later in the fourth quarter and Davis would close the scoring on the day with his third touchdown reception of the day as he would finish the game with eight receptions for 176 yards and the three touchdowns.