Falcons shot down in West Point, 41-21

  • Published
  • By Don Branum
  • Air Force Academy Public Affairs
Turnovers made the difference in the Air Force's 41-21 loss to Army Nov. 3 at Michie Stadium in West Point, N.Y.

The Falcons, unable to establish an offensive rhythm after two solid drives in the first quarter, gave up three interceptions and two fumbles that cost them 17 points against the opportunistic Black Knights and any hope of retaining the Commander-in-Chief's Trophy.

The Falcons and Black Knights traded touchdowns on their opening possessions. The Falcons looked poised to take the lead after stopping Army cold on its second possession and blitzing to the Knights' 1-yard line.

On fourth and goal, quarterback Connor Dietz called his own number. Video would later show that he broke the plane of the goal line, but officials didn't have access to replay video due to a power outage in the stadium caused by Hurricane Sandy's swath through the state of New York earlier in the week.

Instead of taking a 14-7 lead, Air Force remained tied with Army -- but while the Falcons wouldn't see the end zone again until the fourth quarter, the Black Knights took control of the scoreboard. They marched 96 yards on their ensuing drive before settling for a 20-yard chip shot by kicker Dan Grochowski to take a 10-7 lead.

Army's defense made sure Army kept that lead, twice picking off Dietz; who before Nov. 3 had just one career interception; to set up a touchdown and a field goal. The Falcons entered the locker room at halftime down 20-7.

While the Falcons' offense continued to falter in the third quarter, going three-and-out on three straight possessions, the Black Knights moved the ball at will, scoring two consecutive touchdowns on 54-yard drives. A two-point conversion on the end of the second touchdown made the score 35-7.

For part of the fourth quarter, it looked like the Falcons might overcome the 28-point deficit. Dietz led the Falcons into the end zone on an 11-play, 68-yard scoring drive, and Air Force recovered its onside kick to set up a second touchdown, making the score 35-21 with 6:28 to play.

The Falcons' defense stopped Army's next drive and got the ball back with about three minutes left in the game, but a bad snap bounced into Air Force's end zone, where Army defensive lineman Nate Combs recovered it for the game-sealing score.

Air Force travels to San Diego State Nov. 10. The Falcons are 5-4 overall and 4-1 in the Mountain West Conference. The Aztecs (7-3, 5-1) come off a 21-19 upset of No. 19 Boise State in Boise, Idaho, Nov. 3. A win in San Diego would give the Falcons a share of first place in the conference.