by Ralph Routon
Air Force had a perfect play called to pull out a Military Bowl victory. But the play didn't work.
A fake extra-point try turned into a fumble through the end zone, and Toledo escaped with a 42-41 victory. Air Force had pulled to within a point with a clutch fourth-down pass from Tim Jefferson to Zack Kauth for a 33-yard touchdown with 52 seconds to play.
Air Force had spent the entire game chasing Toledo, catching up four times, but never taking the lead. If the option pitch had worked on the fateful extra point, the Falcons would've finally led.
Instead, Air Force came up short and ended its season 7-6, while Toledo finished 9-4 thanks to some luck and a fourth-quarter touchdown pass of its own.
After both defenses came up with three straight stops, but with the Rockets clinging to great field position, the Falcons finally buckled.
On a third-and-6 from the AFA 33, Bernard Reedy turned a short pass into a 33-yard touchdown, his third TD reception of the day from Terrance Owens, making it 42-35 with 5:01 to play.
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Air Force and Toledo are heading into the fourth quarter of the Military Bowl at 35-35 after a mistake-ridden third period.
After a dropped pass ended the Falcons' first series of the second half, Toledo's Jermaine Robinson picked off a deflected pass and returned it 37 yards to give the Rockets a 35-28 lead.
Air Force came back, as it has the entire game, this time driving 50 yards on seven plays. Mike DeWitt's second touchdown, a 2-yard run, made it 35-35 with 5:59 left in the third.
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Air Force has rebounded in the second quarter with two fourth-down touchdowns, including a fourth-and-3 pass from Tim Jefferson to Jonathan Warzeka for a 37-yard score, giving the Falcons a 28-28 tie with Toledo at halftime of the Military Bowl.
Senior Asher Clark scored from a yard out with 9:43 left in the half for a 21-21 deadlock, but Toledo responded quickly. Terrance Owens and Bernard Reedy hooked up for the second time, this one a 48-yard touchdown, putting the Rockets back on top.
Toledo's first turnover, a fumble at its 44, set up the final score of the half. With the Toledo defense expecting a fourth-and-3 run, Jefferson pulled up and lofted a perfect strike to Warzeka, breaking behind the coverage.
Air Force leads in total yards, 256-231, but has had a lot of trouble defensively against the Rockets' high-powered offense that resembles Boise State's.
After the half, the Falcons will get the ball to start the third quarter.
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Air Force's offense has awakened for two touchdowns, but Toledo has been more explosive in building a 21-14 lead after the first quarter of the Military Bowl.
AFA senior quarterback Tim Jefferson broke a third-and-13 draw for a 22-yard touchdown, and fullback Mike DeWitt capped a quick 63-yard drive with a 3-yard run as the Falcons avoided falling into a deep hole early.
Toledo scored two touchdowns in 16 seconds to take a 14-0 lead, then made it 21-7 on an 87-yard kickoff return by Eric Page.
Terrance Owens tossed a 17-yard touchdown pass to Bernard Reedy with 6:38 left in the first quarter for the first score. Air Force then fumbled the ensuing kickoff, Toledo recovered at the AFA 41, and running back Adonis Thomas promptly broke a 41-yard touchdown run down the left sideline to make it 14-0.
Owens directed a seven-play, 53-yard scoring drive after a short Air Force punt gave Toledo good field position. So far, Air Force's defense is having trouble with the Rockets' spread-out, wide-open offense. Owens threw a third-and-nine pass for 14 yards to the Falcons 37 to set up the score.
Toledo took the opening kickoff and drove from its 26 to the AFA 27 before stalling, and Jeremiah Detmer's 47-yard field-goal attempt sailed wide left.