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For the Air Force Academy in 1989, maybe it was playing in front of the home crowd. Most certainly, it was not having to play Cal Berkeley. But, after ten frustrating years with six appearances in the Final Four, Air Force triumphed in the National Collegiate final, a 25-7 victory against Cal State Long Beach.
Army defeated Penn State 18-9 in the consolation match.
In May, the Final Four was held in Colorado Springs, which permitted some 3,000 fans to watch the Air Force-Cal State Long Beach game.
Air Force led 6-3, then extended the margin to 13-3. Cal State scored, missed the conversion, to make it 13-7 at halftime. The “Zoomies” notched two tries in the last five-minutes to forge ahead 25-7.
The pivotal game of the four territories, qualification tournament might be Cal State Long Beach’s upset win against Cal Berkeley 18-10 in the Pacific regional final in Tucson. In other regional results, Army defeated Navy 43-18 in the East, and Penn State squeaked by Wisconsin 13-12 in the Midwest championship.
The victory added the Air Force to the list of former National Collegiate Title winners, including Cal Berkley (seven titles), Harvard and San Diego State one title each.
After years of frustration, the Zoomies claimed the top spot, the winners over 377 other colleges.