The Air Force Falcons blew an 18-point halftime lead only to have the game saved by Alex Means, when he blocked a long extra point attempt after an undisciplined display by Navy's quarterback Kriss Proctor. Tim Jefferson guided the offense to its own scoring drive in the OT and Parker Herrington secured the one point victory with an extra point to give the Falcons their first win in Annapolis since 1997.
As Air Force-Navy games have gone the past decade, it seemed surreal when the Falcons took a 21-3 lead early in the second quarter. The out comes of the games between these two bitter rivals have always been tight. Perhaps it is only fitting that the Midshipmen stormed back to tie the game late in the fourth quarter to set up one of the most memorable finishes in the storied history of this matchup.
But it certainly didn't have to end up the way it did. Air Force was in fact too efficient on offense in the first half, scoring touchdowns on their first three drives of the game in 1:30, 5:40, and 2:48 respectively. The offense was moving with a rhythm in a no-huddle, keep the opposition on its heels style. Navy's offense was more deliberate, slowly and methodically moving the ball and kept the Falcon defenders on the field for 40:46 total for the game. I don't care who is playing, when a defense is on the field for 40 minutes they are going to give up points and yards late because they will be tired. The defense forced 25 third down plays allowing Navy to convert 14 times. Navy was 5 for 5 on 4th down conversions, including a fake punt. But with the long breaks on the sidelines for the Air Force offense, their rhythm disappeared. The next three possessions for the Falcons after the three TDs went three and out, three and out, and three and fumble, totaling 9 yards and 3:42 off of the clock.
In this war of attrition the defense forced Navy to kick two field goals after two long drives in the first and fourth quarters. They also forced a field goal attempt in the second quarter after a 9:48 18-play drive by the Midshipmen, but Jon Teague missed the attempt wide to the right with 3:44 remaining in the first half to keep the score at 21-3 Falcons.
Running a hurry-up, no-huddle style of offense is great when you are controlling the tempo of the game, but Air Force only held the ball for 7:44 of the second half and their defense suffered for it. Don't get me wrong, I think the no-huddle offense is a plus for the Falcons. They can take advantage of their knowledge of the offense and ability to run it with precision, but when your timing is knocked off a bit and your defense is getting worn down, showing some patience might be a little more prudent.
While Alex Means came up huge with his blocked extra point in OT, the defensive star of the game has to be fellow linebacker Brady Amack. The senior middle linebacker compiled 23 tackles, 11 solo, one sack and two tackles for loss. It seemed like every where Navy fullback Alexander Teich went Amack was there to meet him. Three of Amack's tackles came on third down and forced Navy to punt each time. His 23 tackles were the most by an Air Force defender since 1988.
Offensively, the star of the game was without a doubt Tim Jefferson. In this his last meeting against Navy, Jefferson was 9 of 10 for 136 yards passing and a touchdown. The senior quarterback also carried the ball 18 times for 60 yards and two touchdowns. Jefferson, finally had the breakout game he and Air Force fans have been waiting for him to have all season. His leadership in overtime proved to be the difference in this game. He scored the tying touchdown in the extra frame, but unlike his counterpart Kriss Proctor, he showed the discipline to let his actions speak louder than his mouth. Then Parker Herrington drove home the final point.