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Air Force Uses Seven Turnovers to Shock Boise State

Air Force forced turnovers early and often and quarterback Kale Pearson found room against an excellent Boise State defense to lead the Falcons to a 28-14 upset over the Broncos. The Falcons would have to withstand a furious fourth quarter rally by Boise State to hold on for the victory.

Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

The Air Force Falcons had created a grand total of one turnover defensively going into their home match-up against the Mountain division leading Boise State Broncos on Saturday night in Colorado Springs. When the game was over, the Falcons would create seven turnovers to upset the Broncos 28-14 in what has to be easily termed as the upset of the season so far in the Mountain West.

The turnover bug hit the Broncos early when on their first drive of the game Falcons sophomore safety Weston Steelhammer picked off an errant pass from Boise State quarterback Grant Hedrick. Boise State's defense, like they did heroically most of the night, would keep the Falcons from capitalizing.

The defense wouldn't be able to keep the Falcons out of the end zone on the very next drive after a Jay Ajayi fumble gave Air Force the ball deep in Boise State territory. Ajayi was stripped by linebacker Dexter Walker and the ball was recovered by nose guard Troy Timmerman. Falcon quarterback Kale Pearson would find junior running back Garrett Brown all alone in the end zone to give the Falcons a 7-0 lead.

Both teams would trade punts, but Boise State's Shane Williams-Rhodes would give the Broncos momentum with a huge punt return to the Air Force 15 yard line. On the very next play, Steelhammer would make a diving interception to take the momentum back for the Falcons.

Boise State's defense was able to hold the Falcons again and get the ball back for the offense. The Broncos would not have a turnover on this drive, but would find another unfortunate ending in trying to capture momentum and get on the scoreboard. On fourth and sixth, Hedrick threw the ball short of the marker and Pierce tackled the receiver one-yard short to stop yet another drive.

Air Force would find some footing offensively following the turnover on downs. With Devin Rushing finding room on the outside and Pearson hitting a big 22-yard run, the Falcons would cap off the drive with a five yard touchdown run by Pearson to increase the lead to 14-0. Air Force would tack on a late field goal to go up 17-0 at the half.

Two more turnovers (Gavin McHenry interception and Connor Healy fumble recovery of Ajayi's second fumble) early in the third quarter would allow the Falcons to keep the lead while their offense was struggling to move the chains. When Boise State did put together an impressive drive in the third quarter after a 32-yard pass to Ajayi, a penalty would snap the momentum and on fourth down Air Force would block a Boise State field goal to keep the unfortunate night for the Broncos going.

Air Force would punt and Hedrick would find Chaz Anderson on a long 46-yard pass to challenge the Falcons once again. Air Force would meet the challenge as Pierce would break on a Hedrick pass for the interception and race 56 yards to take the ball down to the Boise State nine yard line. Air Force would settle for a field goal by Will Conant to go up 20-0.

That was the end of the night for Hedrick as Boise State would turn to redshirt freshman Ryan Finley. Finley would rally the Broncos with two fourth quarter touchdowns, but late in the fourth quarter and the Broncos trying to cut it to a one possession game, Steelhammer would find his third interception of the game on an overthrown Finley ball and seal the victory for Air Force.

The win for Air Force would give the Falcons their first Mountain West victory since they defeated Hawaii on November 6, 2012. The Falcons would also find a way to grind out 287 yards rushing this evening, by far the most against the Boise State defense, who came into the game only allowing 53 yards a game on the ground.

The Falcons will host academy rival Navy next week in the first stage of the Commander-in-Chief Trophy battle. The game will be at 1:30 p.m. and be televised by CBS Sports Network.