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Air Force tops CSU 38-21, claim 4th straight Ram-Falcon Trophy

With two streaks on a collision course, one had to give. After a slow start to the season, the Colorado State Rams were riding a three-game win streak while the Air Force Falcons had claimed the Ram-Falcon Trophy in each of the teams’ last three meetings.

In a rivalry that dates back to the late 1950s, this year’s matchup between the Falcons and the Rams proved to be just like the last three: another painful loss for the Rams. 

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“I thought (it was a) really tough effort by our guys tonight,” Head Coach Mike Bobo said. “I thought we played extremely well on defense for a very long time tonight. A lot of missed opportunities for us offensively.” 

player throws
Quarterback Patrick O’Brien (12) throws downfield against the Air Force Academy. (Luke Bourland | The Collegian)

CSU started strong with two quick scores to take a 14-0 lead early in the first quarter. Patrick O’Brien engineered an efficient 14-play drive and found tight end Trey McBride in the end zone to put the Rams up 7-0  

The Falcons, on the next offensive possession, worked their way to CSU’s 29-yard line looking to tie the game, but the CSU defense came up big. Rams linebacker Cam’ron Carter forced a fumble from Falcons quarterback Donald Hammond III, and linebacker Mohamed Kamara picked up the loose ball and took it back 63 yards for another CSU touchdown. This marked the first fumble the Rams had returned for a touchdown since the 2015 season, swinging momentum in CSU’s favor early in the game and putting them up 14-0. 

“I thought the defense put us in an opportunity to put (Air Force) under some pressure with a bigger lead,” Bobo said. “Give (Air Force) credit. They made plays and tackled well.” 

Air Force responded in the second quarter, not with their usual run-heavy offense, but through the air. Before tonight, Air Force had only scored six passing touchdowns through their nine games in the 2019 season. Tonight against CSU, they scored three. The Falcons’ first score was off a 31-yard pass, and they added a field goal to cut the Rams’ lead to 14-10 as the first half drew to a close. 

Neither team put points on the scoreboard in the third quarter as the score remained 10-14. Just over a minute into the fourth quarter, Air Force took their first lead of the game off another passing touchdown, this time on a 50-yard score as Hammond connected with wide receiver Geraud Sanders. 

After scoring on the opening drive, CSU’s offense struggled to generate yardage against the Falcon defense, yielding eight sacks in the game while recording none. Air Force added yet another passing score with 7:21 remaining in the game to make it 24 unanswered points after trailing 0-14, bringing the score to 24-14 in favor of the visitors.  

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Trey McBride (85) celebrates after scoring a touchdown in the first quarter. (Luke Bourland | The Collegian)

“Offense just wasn’t executing as well as we’d like,” McBride said. “Air Force played really well. Offense just didn’t execute in the middle of the game.”

CSU did respond to bring the game to 24-21, but Air Force pulled away thanks to another touchdown and then a 99-yard pick six while on their own 1-yard line to ice the game and claim their fourth straight victory with a 38-21 win over the Rams in Fort Collins. 

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Despite having the lead for three quarters, the Rams let another close game slip away as they fall to 4-6 on the season. They must win their remaining two games to become bowl eligible. 

CSU will head up north for their next game as they’ll battle the University of Wyoming in their annual Border War game on Nov. 22.

Ryan Loberger can be reached at sports@collegian.com or on Twitter @Lobergerryan.

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About the Contributor
Luke Bourland, Photo Director
Luke Bourland is a history major from Durham, Connecticut. Bourland is studying history in hopes of going to law school in the fall 2022 semester after graduation. In terms of which law school Bourland wants to go to, he likes to joke, "I will attend anywhere that'll have me!" Bourland has been taking pictures recreationally for most of his life but did not officially join The Collegian until the beginning of his sophomore year in 2019. Bourland originally joined The Collegian to develop his skills and to photograph out of his comfort zone. During his time at The Collegian, Bourland has held positions such as freelance photographer, media archivist, assistant photo editor, photo editor and finally, photo director. As the photo director, it is Bourland's job to make sure the paper is accompanied with beautiful pictures alongside the photo editor. Bourland has photographed events ranging from speeches and galas to football and basketball games. In his free time, Bourland is an avid golfer, fly-fisherman and still loves to take pictures recreationally. Differing from the style of photography at The Collegian, Bourland enjoys slowing down and shooting landscapes and portraits on film. Bourland first learned how to develop film with a friend in the bathrooms of Corbett Hall, stuffing towels under the doors to avoid any light leaking in. No matter where life takes Bourland, he hopes that photography will always be there along the ride.  

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