In one of the coldest bowl games to date, the 2022 Armed Forces Bowl played perfectly into the the hands of the Air Force Falcons (10-3). Using the frigid temps (13 degrees, -1 degree wind chill) to their advantage they dominated the trenches from kickoff to the final whistle on their way to becoming champions.
Securing their fifth 10+ win season, and fifth bowl victory since 2014, the Falcons have proven to be the cream of the crop between the three service academies. As a team that ranks number one in the country in rushing offense, Thursday night’s weather couldn’t have been better for Troy Calhoun’s squad.
After an opening drive three-and-out by the Baylor Bears, Air Force took over on their own 45 and chipped away for 15(!) plays eventually punching it in from the 2-yard line on a Brad Roberts run.
After Air Force’s field goal on their second drive of the game, there would be no scoring (Baylor kicker Jason Mayers missed a 38-yd field goal with 8:11 in the second quarter) until Baylor quarterback Blake Shapen found receiver Hal Presley for an 8-yd touchdown pass with six seconds remaining in the first half. The score was 9-7 at the break despite Air Force was in control the entire half.
After a lull for much of the first half things quickly picked up after halftime as Air Force scored on their opening drive of the second half. The drive would take just five plays thanks to Haaziq Daniels‘ 68-yard pass to Falcon receiver Amari Terry, setting up Daniels’ 2-yard touchdown run.
The Falcons would score on three of their first four drives of the second half giving them a 30-7 lead while Baylor would have three four-and-outs before they would finally muster a scoring drive with 3:34 left in the game cutting Air Force’s lead to 30-15 which would stick to be the final.
Air Force’s defense was certainly up to the challenge against the young Baylor offense holding the Bears to 230 total yards. The Falcons essentially doubled up Baylor in total yards and time of possession which happened to perfectly translate to a doubled up score for the Falcons.
Gridiron’s 2022 Armed Forces Bowl MVP
Air Force RB Brad Roberts
As we highlighted in our preview, the running back controlled the game from the start, scoring the Falcons first and last points of the game to lead the team to their second consecutive bowl victory and 10-win season.
The senior went out with a bang totaling 116 yards on the ground and scoring two touchdowns in his final game. It wasn’t his best performance in terms of yards per carry (3.1), but he shouldered the load and kept the chains moving.
His ability to grind out tough yards allowed Air Force to shorten the game and keep the ball out of Baylor’s hands.
The Senior’s final stat line for the 2022 campaign: 345 carries/1,728 yards/17 touchdowns
2022 Armed Forces Bowl Play of the Game
In perhaps the biggest moment in the 2022 Armed Forces Bowl, Air Force Junior running back John Lee Eldridge III made the biggest impact play of his career Thursday night — and it had nothing to do with his spectacular hurdle or his 10 carries for 65 yards in the final game of the year.
Eldridge took the opportunity to double down on his team’s success and ask his then-girlfriend Shanice Atkins to marry him (she said yes). Congrats to the happy couple. What a way to end a memorable night in Fort Worth.
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