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Armed Forces Bowl: Air Force 31, James Madison 21

Armed Forces Bowl

Associated Press

FORT WORTH, Texas - Emmanuel Michel rushed for a career-best 203 yards and two 1-yard touchdowns and Zac Larrier passed for one TD and ran for another score, leading Air Force to a 31-21 win over No. 24 James Madison in the Armed Forces Bowl.

Air Force (9-4) posted its fifth consecutive bowl win after losing its last four games of the season.

James Madison (11-2) lost in regulation for the first time this season while playing in the program’s first bowl game. The Dukes, who are completing their transition to the FBS level from FCS after being a two-time national champion in the lower division, earned the bowl berth after there weren’t enough bowl-eligible teams to fill all the spots.

Air Force’s triple-option running attack got the better of the top run defense in the FBS. The Falcons entered second in team rushing at 275.8 yards per game, and ground out 351 yards in the victory. JMU came in allowing 61.5 rushing yards, with a high of 146 yards.

James Madison gained 283 total yards — only 26 rushing.

Michel, a 5-foot-10, 210-pound senior, scored midway through the first and second quarters. His second gave Air Force the lead for good at 14-7 following an interception by Johnathan Young at midfield after Dukes quarterback Jordan McCloud faced a heavy blitz and flipped an opposite-hand pass up for grabs.

Larrier tossed a 42-yard TD pass to Jared Roznos with 27 seconds remaining in the first half and scored from a yard out in the third quarter.

Matthew Dapore kicked a 26-yard field goal, capping a 17-play, 49-yard drive and giving Air Force a 31-14 lead.

McCloud threw three TD passes for the Dukes. He hit Phoenix Sproles with scoring passes of 18 and 7 yards, and tossed a 5-yard TD pass to Kaelon Black.

McCloud finished 20 for 33 for 257 yards with an interception.

THE TAKEAWAY

James Madison: The Dukes finished first in the Sun Belt East both seasons while prohibited from playing for the conference championship.

Air Force: Consistency remains the key to the program under Troy Calhoun, with 12 winning seasons, 13 bowls and eight bowl wins in his 17 seasons at the helm.

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December 23, 2023






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