Air Force football defeated #24 James Madison, 31-21, Saturday afternoon at the Lockheed Martin Armed Forces Bowl at Amon G. Carter Stadium in Fort Worth, Texas. The Falcons cap the 2023 season with a 9-4 record.
The Falcons won for the second-straight season at the Armed Forces bowl with a combination of its running game and a defense that racked up four sacks and an interception. Air Force also ran its bowl win-streak to five games.
Air Force churned out 351 yards on the ground despite facing the nation’s top-ranked rush defense of JMU (62 yards per game). Senior fullback Emmanuel Michel ran for an Air Force bowl-record 203 yards on 35 carries. Michel was named Armed Forces Bowl MVP for his performance.
On defense, senior linebacker Bo Richter led the way with three sacks and 4.5 tackles-for-loss, which were both Air Force bowl records.
The game started with Air Force and James Madison trading touchdowns in the first quarter. The Falcons scored first as Michel capped an 86-yard drive with a one-yard rushing touchdown. The Dukes tied it up as quarterback Jordan McCloud found receiver Phoenix Sproles for an 18-yard touchdown pass.
Air Force took control of the game in the second quarter with two touchdowns.
The Falcons snatched momentum from JMU after linebacker Jonathan Youngblood intercepted McCloud in the second quarter. Air Force then drove 72 yards down the field and scored on another one-yard run by Michel. Air Force got the ball back with 37 seconds before the half and turned it into another touchdown, as quarterback Zac Larrier threw a 42-yard touchdown strike to receiver Jared Roznos to put the Falcons ahead 21-7 at the half.
James Madison scored a touchdown on its first drive of the third quarter on a five-yard TD pass by McCloud to running back Kaelon Black to pull to within a score at 21-14.
Air Force immediately responded with a 75-yard touchdown drive, capped with a one-yard plunge by Larrier to make it a 28-14 game. Matthew Dapore then capped a time-eating 17-play, nine-minute and 45 second drive with a 26 yard field goal to make it 31-14 with 8:20 to play.
James Madison scored its last touchdown on a seven-yard TD catch by Sproles.