Navy torpedoes Falcons, 28-21, in OT

  • Published
  • By Don Branum
  • Air Force Academy Public Affairs
Three fumbles and two missed field goals cost Air Force the win, and likely the Commander-in-Chief's Trophy, in a 28-21 overtime loss to Navy at Falcon Stadium Oct. 6.

Navy captured the momentum in the second quarter, forcing three turnovers on three successive Air Force drives, and never gave momentum back even after the Falcons took a 21-13 lead in the fourth quarter.

The Falcons' first touchdown came on a four-play, 75-yard sortie capped with a 35-yard strike from Connor Dietz to Drew Coleman. After stopping Navy on their first possession, Air Force marched downfield again, but Parker Harrington missed a chip shot, sending a 27-yard field goal attempt wide left.

Navy stole momentum in the second quarter, as Navy's Cody Peterson forced Broam Hart to fumble. Tra'ves Bush recovered the fumble and ran it to the Midshipmen 39. Navy took the lead on a six-play, 61 yard drive set up by a 25-yard Gee Gee Greene run and capped by Noah Copeland's first career touchdown.

The Falcons fumbled on their next two possessions, losing their second fumble deep inside Navy territory and their third near midfield. A personal foul against the Midshipmen kept them out of the end zone, but they walked into the locker room at halftime with a 10-7 lead.

Navy sputtered on its opening drive on the second half. The two teams traded possession until Air Force staged a 14-play, 83-yard drive in the final minutes of the third quarter to take a 14-10 lead on a 21-yard scamper by Cody Getz.

Miller orchestrated a Navy drive that started at the 20 and continued into Air Force territory before stalling at the Air Force 24. Miller left the game on after being tackled on third down: He limped off the field with help from two Navy coaches.

Air Force dropped a bomb on its next drive, scoring on a 54-yard flea flicker from Dante Strickland to Drew Coleman. But Navy, helmed by freshman quarterback Keenan Reynolds, returned the favor with a drive that moved 75 yards in just over two minutes. Noah Copeland took the ball into the end zone on a two-point conversion to tie the game at 21.

That was the last score in regulation, as Parker Harrington's 51-yard field goal attempt sailed left of the uprights.

Air Force deferred to Navy to start overtime, and the Midshipmen capitalized, with offensive lineman Jake Zuzek falling on a fumbled snap for the go-ahead touchdown. Air Force's overtime possession ended when Navy's Wes Henderson batted down a Connor Dietz pass intended for Chris Jordan.

"Every game for us, we talk about turnover margin," Falcons head coach Troy Calhoun said. "Credit Navy for not turning it over. For us, not being able to handle the ball as well as we needed to ... was a critical part of the game."

The bright spot in Air Force's loss was Cody Getz, who rushed for his third 200-yard game this season and his fifth-straight game with more than 100 yards. Getz's performance makes him the first Falcon ever to have three 200-yard games in a season and the second player in Mountain West history with that accomplishment. Only two other Falcons, Beau Morgan and Dee Dowis, have three or more 200-yard games in their careers.

The loss virtually guarantees Navy will win the Commander-in-Chief's Trophy this season. To retain the trophy, Air Force must defeat Army, and Army must defeat Navy. Army's last win against Navy came in 2001: Since then, the Black Knights are 1-19 against their rival service academies.