Broncos fall to Air Force in Famous Idaho Potato Bowl

Published 10:57 am Sunday, December 21, 2014

Former Dowagiac standout Brett Scanlon, seen here against Michigan State last season, had four kickoffs for an average of 63.5 yards with a pair of touchbacks. (Leader photo/File)

Former Dowagiac standout Brett Scanlon, seen here against Michigan State last season, had four kickoffs for an average of 63.5 yards with a pair of touchbacks. (Leader photo/File)

BOISE, Idaho — The 2014 Western Michigan football season came to a close with a 38-24 loss to Air Force in the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl, played at Albertsons Stadium on the campus of Boise State.

PotatoBowlWestern Michigan led Air Force twice early in the game after kicking a field goal for a 3-0 advantage and briefly by a 10-6 margin. The Falcons pulled ahead with a pair of touchdowns in the second quarter and maintained the lead the rest of the game. Air Force led at halftime, 20-10.

Sophomore wide receiver Corey Davis scored all three of WMU’s touchdowns and was named Western Michigan’s MVP of the game. His first touchdown was a 47-yard pass from quarterback Zach Terrell that put WMU up 10-6 at the beginning of the second quarter. His second touchdown was a 35-yard strike from Terrell that pulled Western Michigan within six, 23-17, with 13:26 left in the game. The final touchdown was a 51-yarder with 3:16 remaining.

Davis finishes the season with 15 touchdown receptions, which stands as second most in a WMU single season, ahead of Greg Jennings who caught 14 touchdowns in 2003 and 2005. Jordan White holds the current school record with 17 touchdown receptions in 2011.

Western Michigan got off to a strong start, recovering a fumble on the opening play when Rontavious Atkins pounced on a bobbled pitch by Air Force’s option offense.

Andrew Haldeman banged in a 28-yard field goal to give WMU a 3-0 lead. Air Force scored a one-yard touchdown and bad snap resulted in no extra point as AF went up 6-3.

Davis’ 47-yard touchdown reception swung the momentum back in Western Michigan’s favor, but Air Force was quick to respond as running back and game MVP Shayne Davern broke free for a 55-yard touchdown run. The Falcons scored another touchdown before the half after rushing for a first down on a fake punt and led 20-10 at the break.

Air Force kicked a field goal midway through the third to take a 23-10 advantage into the fourth quarter. The Broncos gave one last push, cutting the deficit to six points with Davis’ second touchdown catch at the start of the fourth quarter. The Bronco defense forced a punt on Air Force’s next drive, which was fielded by Daniel Braverman. Braverman raced to the end zone in what would have been the game-tying score but the touchdown was called back due to a holding call.

With less than 10 minutes left in the game, Air Force’s Dexter Walker returned a 60-yard fumble recovery after Terrell lost the ball on a scramble. A 2-point conversion pushed Air Force’s lead to 31-17. A nine-yard touchdown run by the Falcons’ D.J. Johnson with 5:20 remaining all but sealed the win. Davis’ 51-yard touchdown catch for Western Michigan made for a 38-24 final.

Davis’s three touchdown receptions are a Western Michigan bowl record and the three touchdown passes by Terrell ties Alex Carder’s three TDs in the 2011 Little Casear’s Bowl. Davis made eight catches for 176 yards, the second most yardage in WMU postseason play.

Terrell completed 19-of-38 passing attempts and 297 yards in the air. He was also Western Michigan’s leading rusher with 61 yards, ripping off a career-long run of 41 yards.

Air Force’s defense kept the pressure on Terrell, sacking the quarterback three times. The Falcons held WMU to 6-of-14 on third down conversions. Offensively, the team rung up 284 yards on the ground and limited WMU to 79. Davern rushed for 101 yards and two touchdowns. Air Force concludes the season with a 10-3 record, after going 2-10 last season.

Former Dowagiac standout Brett Scanlon averaged 63.5 yards on four kickoffs, two of which went for touchbacks.
Devon Brant, Justin Currie and Robert Spillane each recorded 10 tackles for Western Michigan. Trevor Ishmael made nine stops, including one tackle for a loss.

The Broncos finish 8-5 on the season, under second-year head coach P.J. Fleck, one year after going 1-11. Saturday’s bowl appearance was WMU’s sixth in school history and the first since 2011.