akoiki-passport2 – by Adesina O. Koiki
A Lot of Sports Talk editor-in-chief

FORT WORTH, TEXAS — From their first offensive play of the game, the Air Force Falcons made it clear that their irresistible ground force was winning the battle with the supposed immovable object lining up across the line of scrimmage, especially since it returned their leader who had led the team to a historic start to the season — who helped to close out the season in style as well.

Running back Emmanuel Michel ran for 203 yards while quarterback Zac Larrier returned from a knee injury to record a touchdown both through the air and on the ground as the Falcons never trailed in defeating James Madison 31-21 in the Armed Forces Bowl on Saturday afternoon. The Falcons, coming into the game ranked No. 2 in the FBS in rushing, mauled the country’s top-ranked rush defense to the tune of 396 yards on the ground.

Just over a month ago, both teams had aspirations for undefeated seasons as the Falcons and Dukes entered November with 8-0 records. Larrier, who hurt his knee in a win over Wyoming on October 14, aggravated it a couple of weeks later during a loss to Army, the first of four consecutive losses to end the season for Air Force. Making his return to the lineup, Larrier’s first play was a handoff to the S-back (fullback) Michel, who rumbled up the middle for 54 yards on the Falcons’ first play from scrimmage. Seven plays later, Michel scored from one yard out to open the scoring.

James Madison answered on the next drive, with Jordan McCloud throwing his first of three touchdown passes, to Phoenix Sproles, at the 5:07 mark to tie the game.

After the teams exchanged punts, the Falcons took the lead for good in the second, with another 50-plus yard run highlighting the drive, this time a 51-yard jaunt from John Lee Eldridge III on a third-and-4 that took the ball to the Dukes’ 5-yard line. Michel then scored his second one-yard touchdown two plays later.

The Falcons then opened up a two-possession lead through the air, on a 42-yard touchdown strike from Larrier to Jared Ronzos right before halftime and give Air Force a 21-7 lead heading into intermission.

*Editor’s note: Above the byline is the photo gallery from Saturday afternoon’s contest, with photos taken by Dallas-area photographer Ross James. After clicking on the first photo to enlarge the picture, make sure to press the left and right arrow buttons to scroll through the rest of the pictures. There are 35 pictures in total.

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Tags : Air Force FalconsArmed Forces BowlCollege FootballJames Madison DukesMountain West ConferenceSun Belt Conference

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