By now, you know the details — the 2011 service academy football season ended with neither a bang nor a whimper, but with a failed two-point conversion.
Air Force’s 42-41 loss to Toledo at RFK Stadium may be remembered for a last-minute bobble (if you want the inside scoop on the play, head here for a great breakdown by Frank Schwab of the Colorado Springs Gazette), but there’s more to the game, more to Air Force’s season and more to the bowl itself then a moment of failed trickery.
The past: Wednesday’s loss capped the Air Force football career of quarterback Tim Jefferson, a four-year starter who may have his own chapter in the next edition of the school’s record book. Jefferson’s 28 wins are the most by an Air Force quarterback. He’s third overall in passing yards and total offense, tied for second with 34 career touchdown passes, and 10th all-time in rushing. His two touchdown passes against Toledo tied a school bowl record, and he’s the only QB to start four bowl games for the Falcons, going 2-2. Jefferson’s not done with the air game — he plans on going to pilot training after graduation.
The present: Jefferson isn’t the only departing Air Force star. The Falcons had 16 seniors atop the depth chart for Wednesday’s game — eight on both sides of the ball, including wideout Jonathan Warzeka (95 yards rushing, 1 TD catch in the loss), running back Asher Clark (second all-time in rushing) and linebacker Brady Amack (team-high 11 tackles against Toledo, giving him 136 on the year, also a team high). Who’s back to lead the 2012 bowl push? Jason Kons and Jordan Eason return to anchor the offensive line, Mike DeWitt (two TDs against Toledo) likely will be the featured back, and linebacker Jamil Cooks will hope to build on Wednesday’s effort, which included three solo tackles and Air Force’s only sack.
The future: Military Bowl organizers couldn’t have asked for more in 2011 — a high-scoring first half, big defensive plays in the second half, late-game controversy, a loud crowd and a large military presence. They’ll hope to recreate at least some of that in 2012 with Army, which is slated to play at RFK in December if it finishes .500 or better. In 2013, though, the bowl loses its service academy affiliation, with a Big 12 team slated to face an Atlantic Coast Conference representative. But this season started with Navy scheduled to face an ACC team and ended with Air Force versus a Mid-American Conference squad — in the world of the college postseason, anything’s possible. As of now, at least, Navy is committed to the Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl in San Francisco in 2012, and Air Force will return to the Mountain West Conference bowl mix, which includes several postseason destinations.
2011 Military Bowl Photo Gallery