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Falcons scare Sooners in comeback

NORMAN, Okla. — Meeting for only the second time in school history, the Air Force Academy Falcons posted 351 rushing yards against the nationally-ranked Oklahoma University Sooners in a close 27-24 defeat at Sept. 18 at OU’s Memorial Field.

The Sooners took an early lead with a touchdown by running back DeMarco Murray on an offensive drive within the first five minutes of play. Falcon linebacker Pat Hennessey led the Falcon defense with a sack for a loss of nine yards, putting a hitch in the Sooner’s opening drive, and would go on to amass eight more tackles during the game.

The Falcons responded with a push to the 3-yard line resulting in a 20-yard field goal by Erik Soderberg. The score was set up by a 39-yard run by wide receiver Jonathan Warzeka and a 20-yard pass by Tim Jefferson to Zach Kauth.

Later, after forcing an Oklahoma punt, Air Force would fight down the field to the Sooner’s 32-yard line where a Soderberg field goal attempt went wide right and rounded out the first quarter.

Defensive play dominated the second quarter, causing several unsuccessful offensive attempts before the Sooners pressed close enough for a 32-yard field goal by Jimmy Stevens. Four more defensive stops would characterize the next eight minutes of play before Jefferson took a knee with 18 seconds on the clock before the half. The Sooners led10-3 going into the half.

The Falcons opened up the third quarter with a dynamic drive, and a 38-yard touchdown by Jefferson, who was assisted by a notable block from running back Cody Getz. This is the second time in three games Air Force has scored on the opening drive of the second half.

The Sooners answered readily with seven points of their own on a two-play, 22-second drive for Murray’s second touchdown to bring the score to 17-10. Adding three more points during the third quarter with a 41-yard field goal by Stevens, Oklahoma doubled the Air Force score, 20-10.

In the first turnover of the game, Oklahoma’s Jeremy Beal forced a Jefferson fumble on the Sooner’s 35-yard line, which was recovered by defensive back Javon Harris. Oklahoma would take advantage of the opportunity with a 17-yard pass by Landry Jones to Murray for the touchdown.

A Sooner standout, Murray gained 148 yards total, scored three touchdowns, and with 52 all-purpose touchdowns, now ranks third in the program’s history.

Willing Falcon fullback Jared Tew into the end zone, Air Force picked up seven more points at the start of the fourth quarter.

After a slew of incomplete passes by Sooner quarterback Landry Jones, the Falcons regained possession, and rushed down the field with a 14-yard run by Jefferson, and a 16-yard run by Asher Clark, before wide receiver Kyle Halderman dove for the touchdown, advancing the score to 27-24.

The Sooners held onto their possession for just under four minutes to secure a victory over the Falcons.

“Our guys are not interested in close,” said Air Force head coach Troy Calhoun. “As we go play over these next nine games, most important is to recover, rejuvenate and make Monday a good day for us.

“You can go back and look, there are some areas all across the board where we have to play better football,” he added. “The things we do have are pride and we have character, and that gives you a starting point to have that kind of make-up on a football team. We just have to work.”

The University of Oklahoma held a military tribute during half-time for a sold-out crowd of 84,332. A four-ship of F-15 Eagles from Mountain Home Air Force Base, Idaho, flew over the field before the game and a C-17 Globemaster III from nearby Altus AFB, Okla., flew over during the half-time tribute.

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