Disappointing, but accomplishments
By Art Garcia, www.armedforcesbowl.com
FORT WORTH – The season didn't end on the note Air Force wanted, but that doesn't take away from what the Falcons accomplished in 2015.
Air Force reached the Mountain West championship game before coming up short against Cal in the Lockheed Martin Armed Forces Bowl on Tuesday at Amon G. Carter Stadium.
Air Force lost its last three games to end up 8-6. The Falcons, bowling for the eighth time in Calhoun's nine years as coach, have played in five Armed Force Bowls during that span.
This edition of the Falcons left a lasting impression on Calhoun.
"Persistence, incredible grit, unselfishness, self‑discipline, sacrifice, humility, industry, respect," he said. "These guys ‑‑ some of those character traits are what you want.
"That's not easy to do. We're 22 years old, honestly. When you're 22 years old to really be a part of something that's just more than just only the initial person, there's a pretty good understanding of that amongst this group."
Air Force quarterback Karson Roberts accounted for three touchdowns and 222 yards of offense and was named the team's bowl MVP.
"We needed to capitalize more on the possessions we had, block a little better, better pitches and keep the ball in our hands, not theirs," Roberts said. "We turned the ball over a couple times.
"The big one was down the goal line where in scoring position that kind of hurts a little bit. But I think we have a lot to kind of learn from and move on for the younger guys for next year."
Air Force took a 7-0 lead on the game's first possession, driving 68 yards and chewing 6 1/2 minutes off the clock. The Bears nearly held the Falcons to a field goal try, but a face-mask penalty negated a third-down stop inside the 10-yard line.
Air Force fullback Jacobi Owens powered over the goal line from 1 yard two plays later.
The Bears came back with two touchdowns to finish out the first quarter, but the Falcons tied at score 14-14 on running back Tyler Williams' 16-yard run early in the second quarter before Cal quarterback Jared Goff fired two more touchdown passes.
Air Force pulled within 28-21 late in the second quarter, but Goff struck again for a 35-21 advantage at halftime.
The Falcons' defense was dealt a huge blow in the first quarter when safety Weston Steelhammer, the team leader in tackles and interceptions, was ejected for targeting.
"Scheme‑wise, we didn't really change anything," Calhoun said. "We knew what we wanted to do coming into the game. As far as losing Wes that really hurt us, but we figured that everyone else we needed to step up."