Air Force outscored the Wildcats 21-7 in the second quarter and racked up over 600 yards of total offense on its way to its 21st consecutive win over an FCS-opponent, 37-21.
“The first thing you do after a deal like this is you tip your hat to the Air Force Academy, those guys are class,” said head coach Ken Collums. “Where we are as a program, I think honestly we are right where we need to be. If we can stay healthy and get these new guys caught up to where our veterans are, I think within our conference I think we’ll be just fine.”
In the first quarter, the ACU defense seemed unfazed by the sell-out crowd in Colorado Springs. After the first three Falcons possessions, the Wildcats had already forced two turnovers, recorded one sack and posted a three-and-out.
But with just under five minutes left in the first quarter Air Force broke the 0-0 deadlock with a 62-yard touchdown pass from Nate Romine to Ryan Reffit.
The scored remained 7-0 until redshirt sophomore quarterback Dallas Sealey and the offense orchestrated a 10-play, 85-yard drive that was capped off on an eight yard touchdown pass to freshman Josh Fink.
However, on the ensuing Falcons possession Ronald Cleveland broke off a 33-yard touchdown run to regain the lead at 14-7. Air Force would then go on to score a touchdown on two of its next four possessions, with its second touchdown coming on another 62-yard pass from Romine with under two minutes left in the half.
In the second half ACU was not able to overcome the 21-point deficit, but did outscore the Falcons 14-9 in the final two quarters on a pair of touchdown passes from Sealey to juco transfer D.J. Fuller and redshirt freshman Tracy James.
“You don’t know how to play Air Force until you come and play Air Force,” Collums said. “They are tough and they are relentless and they are disciplined.”
In his third career start Sealey went 16-for-33, racking up 274 yards and three touchdowns. Fuller caught a game-high five passes for a game-high 109 yards and a touchdown.
“We always say around our place, when you get squeezed the real you comes out, and you saw the real us and I like what I see,” Collums said.
With the win Air Force improves to 21-0 all-time against FCS opponents and ACU falls to 11-34 all-time against FBS opponents. The Wildcats will take on Northern Colorado in the home opener this Saturday, as they look to avenge a 40-36 loss a season ago.
“I saw enough today to make me know, not to make me think, but to make me know, you know what we’re going to be okay,” Collums said. “Here in two weeks we’ll be a different team than what we just suited up with.”