You would think that 15 years of experience in the game of football would teach you not to count wins until the game is played, but yet I fell victim to counting the proverbial chickens before they were hatched. In the first game of the Military Academy series this season Navy hosted rival Air Force and shocked the Falcons, who now fall to 3-2 on the season, by a score of 34-25 to now make their meeting with Army in early December the deciding game for this years Commander In Chief trophy if Army can beat Air Force in their game coming up.
For the first time this season we saw the Falcons physically outplayed in a style that no one saw the defense receiving this season with their play up until this point. Navy averaged 4.5 yards per carry to find their way to a total of 216 yards total on the ground and 4 touchdowns on the day. Air Force retaliated but only managed to reach their lowest rushing yard total for the entire season, 108 to go along with 2.4 on each carry. The ball was placed very much in the hands of quarterback Donald Hammond III and the passing attack which posted a 246 yard day but failed to reach the end zone. Hammond’s line was 11-26 with an interception. The loss by no means is placed on him however, as is the case for most triple option teams it is a total team loss because the offense is not built for comebacks so when one falls behind the chances for victory drop astronomically.
After battling back and forth for most of the first quarter Air Force broke the scoreless tie with a field goal by Jake Koehnke to put the Falcons on top 3-0. The defense was then broken by the Navy offense as they gave up two quick scoring drives in the second quarter, both capped by touchdown runs by Nelson Smith to make the score 14-3 which many thought would be taken into the half but Air Force fought back with a field goal with 2:00 remaining in the second quarter to push the score to 14-6.
Koehnke began the scoring in the second half as well hitting his third field goal of the game putting the Falcons within a sore at 14-9. Needing a big stop by the defense Air Force couldn’t stop the nosebleed that Navy had started as a two minute drive was capped off this time by a Malcom Perry touchdown, Navy 21 Air Force 9. Koehnke hit his fourth field goal to make his performance now 12 solo points early in the fourth quarter as the score would be 21-12 until halfway through the fourth quarter when Hammond found the end zone from a yard away for Air Force’s first touchdown making the score interesting at 21-19 and the hard fought comeback would be further realized, if just for a moment, as on the next drive Taven Birdow found pay dirt from three yards out. The Falcons would go for two and fail to convert giving the ball back to the Midshipmen with just over 3 minutes left in the game. In a hard fought drive the Falcon’s defense was unable to make the stop as Perry scored his third TD of the game with just 23 seconds left on the clock. Hammond led his team for a final drive now down 28-25 and unfortunately there would be no miracles in this game as the Falcons would fumble and the ball would be scooped and scored by Tony Brown of Navy.
Overall Falcon’s fans should be disappointed as Navy doesn’t quite have the talent level to be able to compete with Air Force on paper, but strange things happen all the time in rivalries and Navy had the number of Air Force’s defense all game until the final whistle. The road does not get easier as the Falcons will return to Colorado Springs to host the 2018 Mountain West Champion Fresno State Bulldogs on October 12th at 5pm Mountain time. A preview for that game will be released Friday morning at 9am mountain time as well. Until then have a good week everyone.