NICK JEZIERNY, Associated Press
BOISE, Idaho (AP) — Shayne Davern ran for a career-high 101 yards and two touchdowns and Air Force beat Western Michigan 38-24 in the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl on a soggy Saturday night.
Air Force finished the season 10-3 after going 2-10 last year. Miami of Ohio was the last previous team to follow a 10-loss season with 10 victories, going from 1-11 in 2009 to 10-4 in 2010.
Davern was selected the Falcons’ most valuable player.
Dexter Walker returned a fumble 60 yards for a touchdown for Air Force.
Western Michigan finished 8-5 after going 1-11 last season.
The Broncos had cut a 23-10 deficit to 23-17 and were in Air Force territory when Western Michigan quarterback Zach Terrell was hit by linebacker Spencer Proctor and fumbled. Walker scooped the ball and raced untouched down the sideline for the clinching score.
Air Force snapped a two-game bowl losing streak. The Falcons last won a postseason game in 2010 when they beat Georgia Tech in the Independence Bowl.
Western Michigan recovered a fumble on the first play from scrimmage to set up a 25-yard field goal by Andrew Haldeman, then got a 47-yard scoring strike from Zach Terrell to Corey Davis to take a 10-6 lead.
Air Force put together back-to-back touchdown drives to grab a 20-10 halftime lead. Davern scored on a 55-yard run, which was the longest of the sophomore’s career. The Falcons then went 80 yards in 15 plays, including Davern gaining 6 yards on a fake punt from near midfield. The drive was capped by a 1-yard run by Devin Rushing on fourth down.
Air Force took 23-10 lead in the third quarter on Will Conant’s 31-yard field goal and appeared to be in great shape after a punt pinned the Broncos on their own 8.
Western Michigan responded with a nine play, 92-yard drive that was capped by the second of three touchdown passes from Terrell to Davis, this one from 35 yards to make it 23-17 with 13:26 to play.
But Walker’s fumble return ended any chance of a comeback by the Broncos, who finished the season losing back-to-back games after they reeled off six consecutive wins to become bowl eligible.
Western Michigan fell to 0-6 in bowl games. Davis finished with eight catches for 176 yards and the three scores for the Broncos to earn MVP honors for his team.