Three feet away from likely forcing overtime, Boise State’s hopes were dashed by the one team so good at doing it to the Broncos.
Quarterback Brett Rypien tried to score on fourth-and-goal at the Air Force 1-yard line with less than 2 minutes remaining, but was stuffed on the attempt, and as he tried to push forward, fumbled, and was recovered by the Falcons.
With the 27-20 win, Air Force (9-3, 5-3) has now defeated Boise State three straight years. That has only happened twice previously in school history: against Idaho from 1982-93 and Nevada from 1996-98.
The No. 19 Broncos (10-2, 6-2) scored on the second play from scrimmage, with junior running back Jeremy McNichols scoring from 4 yards out after he went for 76 yards on the first play. But the Falcons answered with 17 consecutive points, the last seven on a blocked punt return for a touchdown. Boise State never led again.
Rypien hit junior wide receiver for a 75-yard touchdown pass with 8:50 to play to cut the lead to 27-20, and got to the 5-yard line on a 47-yard pass from Rypien to Thomas Sperbeck the next drive, but they could not score, stopped on the Rypien sneak attempt.
With the loss, Boise State is officially eliminated from the Mountain Division race. Wyoming is the champion and will face San Diego State next Saturday in the Mountain West championship.
Air Force had the ball for 41:27 in the win and outrushed Boise State 314-84. Rypien was 9-of-26 for 316 yards.
BSU—Cedrick Wilson 75 pass from Brett Rypien (Tyler Rausa kick), 8:50. Key plays: Wilson took a post route pass from Rypien deep between two safeties and outran the defense, diving into the end zone for the score. Drive: 1 play, 75 yards, 0:12 elapsed. Air Force 27, Boise State 20.
AF—Luke Strebel 30 field goal, 9:02. Key plays: The Falcons started the drive in Boise State territory after a 28-yard punt return by Reggie Cleveland. Arion Worthman had a 3-yard run to the Boise State 28 on a third-and-1. Drive: 9 plays, 27 yards, 5:10 elapsed. Air Force 27, Boise State 13.
BSU—Tyler Rausa 31 field goal, 4:24. Key plays: Quarterback Brett Rypien snuck for 2 yards on a fourth-and-1 from his own 31 to keep the drive going, then hit Cedrick Wilson for 57 yards on the next play. Running back Jeremy McNichols appeared to score on a third-down run, but tight end Jake Roh was called for holding. Rypien threw an incompletion the next play, and Rausa came in for the field goal. Drive: 11 plays, 78 yards, 4:16 elapsed. Air Force 24, Boise State 13.
AF—Shayne Davern 8 run (Luke Strebel kick), 8:56. Key plays: On the first play of the drive, quarterback Arion Worthman tried just his third pass of the game and hit receiver Jalen Robinette for 34 yards. While making the tackle, safety Chanceller James was called for a personal foul, moving the ball to the BSU 13. Drive: 3 plays, 60 yards, 0:52 elapsed. Air Force 24, Boise State 10.
BSU—Tyler Rausa 29 field goal, 0:00. Key plays: Quarterback Brett Rypien’s second and third completions of the game went for 22 yards to Cedrick Wilson, then Thomas Sperbeck for 43 down to the 5. The Broncos lost a yard, threw an incompletion and lost 5 on a trick play attempt after, settling for the field goal. Drive: 8 plays, 59 yards, 2:21 elapsed. Air Force 17, Boise State 10.
AF—Tyler Weaver 11 blocked punt return (Luke Strebel kick), 5:11. Key plays: After a three-and-out by the Boise State offense, Brett Baldwin blocked Sean Wale’s punt, and it landed in Weaver’s waiting arms, running it in untouched. Drive: none. Air Force 17, Boise State 7.
AF—Luke Strebel 36 field goal, 6:13. Key plays: The Falcons got a 10-yard scramble by QB Arion Worthman on third-and-9 the drive’s third play, and converted a third-and-1 on an 8-yard Tim McVey run to get into BSU territory. On a first-and-10 at the BSU 21, Worthman fumbled, but recovered for a 7-yard loss. Drive: 15 plays, 63 yards, 7:11 elapsed. Air Force 10, Boise State 7.
AF—D.J. Johnson 1 run (Luke Strebel kick), 9:48. Key plays: The Falcons didn’t face a third down on the long drive, getting an 18-yard run from Tim McVey on the first play. Nine of the 10 plays were runs. Drive: 10 plays, 83 yards, 4:31 elapsed. Boise State 7, Air Force 7.
BSU—Jeremy McNichols 4 run (Tyler Rausa kick), 14:23. Key plays: Air Force had a late hit on the opening kick, giving the Broncos the ball at their own 40 after a touchback. McNichols reeled off a 56-yard run the first play from scrimmage, then scored easily the next play. Drive: 2 plays, 60 yards, 0:37 elapsed. Boise State 7, Air Force 0.
Boise State looks to improve to 11-1 and put pressure on Wyoming in the Mountain Division race, while also aiming to end a two-game losing streak against Air Force on Friday.
The Broncos and Falcons kick off at 1:30 p.m. Friday, televised on CBS Sports Network.
In its last visit to Air Force, Boise State (10-1, 6-1) had seven turnovers. The Falcons (8-3, 4-3) are 16-1 over the last three seasons at home.
Sophomore safety Dylan Sumner-Gardner did not make the trip for Boise State because of an injury. He has started the last three games after missing the first five of the season for disciplinary reasons. Air Force defensive end Ryan Watson (nine sacks) is not suited up for the Falcons.
Links to our coverage this week: