Command Performance

This afternoon in snowy Falcon Stadium, Air Force ended a downbeat season on an upbeat note by blasting Colorado State, 47-17, in a Mountain West Conference game between Front Range Rivals. The Falcons used a touchdown with four seconds remaining in the first half to seize a, 21-17, halftime lead and begin an onslaught of thirty-three unanswered points to beat the Rams for the first time since 2000.

Chris Field, AFAFalcons Staff WriterVINDICATION. The senior class at AFA removed an albatross from its shoulders this afternoon in posting the first victory of its career against CSU. How fitting that today's game was one in which seniors scored every TD for the Falcons and 46 of the team's 47 points.

Senior HB Anthony Butler led the charge with a pair of scores, while FB Adam Cole added another pair. WR J. P. Waller snared two TD passes and HB Darnell Stephens accounted for the other TD for the home team.

The first half, which saw little defense played by either team, featured six scores on just eight possessions. It was quite another story during the final two quarters of play. On CSU's first four drives of the second half, AFA twice stopped the Rams from converting on fourth down, forced another drive to end on a "three and out" and short circuited the fourth drive with an interception.

The Air Force offense, which had been plagued all season by third quarter inefficiency, played its most impressive third quarter of the year in scoring 13 points as Cole scored the first of his two, 2-yard TDs on the day. QB Shaun Carney found Waller with a 5-yard scoring aerial late in the stanza to boost AFA's lead to, 34-17, before the teams headed to a largely anti-climactic fourth quarter.

CSU opened the game's scoring when QB Caleb Hanie found TE Kory Sperry on a 31 yard TD pass after defender Denny Poland missed an assignment on the play. Poland more than atoned for that error when he made the key defensive play of the game for AFA in the third quarter by stopping a CSU receiver short of a first down on a fourth and two from the Rams' 45 yard line.

After Butler scored on a 7 yard scamper to knot the score as the teams scored on their first drives of the game, CSU mounted a drive which culminated in a 37 yard field goal by Jeff Babcock to end scoring in the opening quarter.

Carney, who was 11 for 18 for 203 yards on the day, hooked up with Waller on a 35 yard scoring strike to open second quarter scoring only to have CSU respond on John Walker's 20-yard sprint to the end zone. From then on it was clear skies and following winds for the Falcons as they scored the game's final 33 points, marred only by a pair of missed PATs in the second half.

BALANCE AND PUNCH. The Falcons' option based attack produced a season high 576 yards of offense and showed remarkable balance throughout the game. Seventy rushes netted 373 yards on the ground--a high water mark for the 2004 campaign--and Carney continued his uncanny accuracy as a freshman in throwing for a pair of TDs and surpassed the 200 yard barrier for the second time this year. He connected with half a dozen different receivers and had little difficulty finding his targets all afternoon.

After committing six turnovers against San Diego State last week the Falcons didn't have a single miscue today. The ability to control the ball allowed AFA's offense to run 89 plays to just 55 for CSU and meant a short workday for Falcons' defenders as they were on the field for just twenty-four minutes. It was the second time in four games Air Force held an opponent scoreless in the second half having done so versus Army three weeks ago.

LOOSE THREADS. Senior FB Dan Shaffer rushed for 52 yards and finished his career with 1,036 yards rushing to become the thirty-fourth player in academy history to surpass the one thousand yard mark.

Darnell Stephens finished his career with 1,537 yards rushing and leaves the program as its 17th leading all-time rusher. Anthony Butler finished close behind his teammate with 1,524 yards and in 19th place on the academy's career list.

Stephens led AFA with 8 rushing touchdowns this year. Carney topped the team in running yardage gaining 596 yards on 159 carries and six touchdowns.

The teams punted only three times in the contest with AFA kicking once.

Waller led the team in TD receptions in 2004 with three and was the only player, other than Stephens, to catch more than one scoring pass.

AFA (5-6) and CSU (4-7) both ended the season with losing records for the first time since 1993. It is just the third losing mark for Fisher DeBerry in twenty-one years as AFA's head coach.

The victory was the 161st of DeBerry's career at Air Force and the school's 299th.

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