In a Military Bowl that started with a scoring explosion, featured a kickoff return for a touchdown, had a handful of fourth-down stands and even more fourth-down conversions, it makes sense to go out on a failed two-point conversion.
Before Air Force fans had a chance to exhale after a 33-yard fourth-down touchdown pass from Tim Jefferson to Zack Kauth, the Falcons attempted to turn an almost-guaranteed tie into a victory. Holder David Baskra tried to hit kicker Parker Herrington with a pitch around the left side, but the ball came loose and the Falcons couldn’t find it in the ensuing end-zone scramble. It left the score at 42-41 in favor of the Toledo Rockets, whose high-octane offense managed to sputter past the finish with one second-half touchdown.
Jefferson had 160 yards passing and 66 yards rushing for the Falcons (7-6), who outgained the Rockets 411-333. The senior led Air Force on its final touchdown drive, moving the Falcons 78 yards in 12 plays. The 12th play went to Kauth, who collided with a Toledo defender, lost his balance, looked right, then turned left in time to find the ball and stumble into the end zone.
That set up what appeared to be a game-tying extra point. But Air Force gambled and lost, and the Rockets (9-4) recovered an onside kick and ran out the clock.
Eric Page caught the onside kick cleanly — an appropriate bookend for the wide receiver/return man who scored earlier on an 87-yard runback. But Page wasn’t even the standout receiver for the Rockets, as game MVP Bernard Reedy hauled in three touchdowns and racked up 126 receiving yards.
Reedy’s final score came at the most critical moment — on third down at the Air Force 33, he grabbed a pass from Terrance Owens, spun past one Air Force defender and juked a second on the way to the end zone to give the Rockets a 42-35 edge.
It was Toledo’s only offensive score of the second half, and their only points aside from a Jermaine Robinson third-quarter interception return for a score. Neither team could match the output of the first two quarters, which ended in a 28-all tie.
The announced crowd of 25,042 stayed to the end and saw a variety of off-field events, including a ceremony honoring five Medal of Honor recipients and an enlistment ceremony presided over by Gen. Norton Schwartz, Air Force chief of staff.
The 83 total points were the most in the Military Bowl’s four-year history (it was known as the EagleBank Bowl until Northrop Grumman became the presenting sponsor last year). The event benefits the USO.